No, I’m afraid Black Angel is NOT a lost chapter in the Star Wars saga itself. Rather, it was a companion short and directorial debut of Star Wars art director Roger Christian shown only in select areas back in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back first opened. It was only screened in Europe and Australia, and after disappearing without a trace, was long believed to be an urban legend by many Star Wars fans until it resurfaced in 2011.
Hit the jump for more info, and two clips from the legendary film.
George Lucas commissioned the piece after reading the script in 1979, and gave Christian a budget of $50,000. The 25 minute short subject was made as an introduction to ESB, and told the story of Sir Maddox–a knight who returned home after the Crusades to find that his family was missing. While searching for them through a mystical realm, he encounters a beautiful maiden held in the clutches of an evil black knight.
Black Angel was released with The Empire Strikes Back on May 21st, 1980 and starred Patricia Christian, James Gibb, Tony Vogel, and John Young…and no–I’ve never heard of any of these folks, either.
Apparently Sir Maddox (Tony Vogel) would go on to play the iconic role of “Tall Captain” in Raiders of the Lost Ark. And John Young had previously appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail–as the “famous historian” King Arthur gets accused of murdering….So, there’s that.
Oh, and despite my initial suspicions: James Gibb is NOT a lesser member of the Bee Gees.
After its limited release, all copies of Black Angel were believed to be lost. A few who saw Empire back then remembered it vaguely, and Steven Spielberg himself called it “one of the most enigmatic films” he’d ever seen.
Still, many fans remained unconvinced it ever actually existed, until a Universal Studios archivist discovered a negative of the short in 2011. Black Angel received its second world premiere at the Mill Valley fest last October, and was shown soon thereafter at the Glasgow Film Festival.
It is still uncertain when and how Black Angel will be presented to the general public: It may be released on Netflix or iTunes, or may possibly be part of yet another DVD re-release of The Empire Strikes Back….we only know that it will be released THIS year.
For his part, Roger Christian is happy to see his film taking its rightful place in the Star Wars hall of fame, saying:
I would like it to be with Star Wars, because it’s history. It belongs there
We’ll be sure to let you know when Black Angel‘s specific release (and what format it will show up on) is announced.
Category: Cool Stuff