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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

a lost Star Wars movie?! well, sort of…

I have never heard of this before. From BBC News:

Black Angel, a short film shown in the cinemas before the 1980 Star Wars feature The Empire Strikes Back, disappeared for decades and was believed to have been lost before it re-emerged in 2012.

Shot in spectacular locations, directed by an Oscar-winner and shown before screenings of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Black Angel had it all. Then the film was lost.

Black Angel is an Arthurian tale of a knight who rescues a princess while he is returning home from the Crusades.

Shot in Scotland on a shoestring budget in 1979, it was shown the following year in cinemas in the UK, Scandinavia, Japan and Australia as part of screenings of The Empire Strikes Back.

Why didn’t I see this?

In the US shorts were no longer shown ahead of feature films but the tradition still continued in Europe and elsewhere.

Oh. Right.

After Empire had completed its run in cinemas worldwide, the original film prints of Black Angel were lost.

[Filmmaker Roger] Christian had almost given up on the original prints when he received a call in 2012 from a Universal Studio’s archivist who told him he had found them.

Californian visual effects company, Athena Studios, painstakingly restored the Black Angel prints frame by frame. The firm’s bosses then convinced Christian to let them show it at last year’s San Francisco’s Mill Valley Film Festival.

Black Angel is set for a homecoming when it is shown at the Glasgow Film Festival later this month ahead of screenings at Dundee DCA, Inverness’s Eden Court and Edinburgh Filmhouse.

So cool! Maybe it’ll show up on DVD at some point.

(Check out the full story, which is much longer and includes all sort of interesting tidbits from Christian on “Black Angel” and also on the Star Wars films, some of which Christian worked on as a set and prop designer.)


  • RogerBW

    Oh, I remember that. Going by my dim recollection, it was all about the visuals, with a minimal plot and I think one line of dialogue. I wonder what I’ll think of it when I see it again.

    (Yes, short extra films did occasionally get shown in those days, but I don’t remember any of them being good.)

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