Star Wars Lost and Found History: Black Angel
It’s summertime, 1980 and you’re in a mercifully cool, air-conditioned theater. The lights go down and your heart rate increases in anticipation of the feature attraction — The Empire Strikes Back. If you were at a theater in America, that’s exactly what you got, but if you saw The Empire Strikes Back at a European or Australian theater, you saw something more.
For theatrical release, George Lucas wanted a featurette to precede Star Wars Episode V, and he found a story in Black Angel, a script by eventual Empire Strikes Back Art Director Roger Christian. Lucas gave Christian the job directing what would become a 25-minute featurette about a medieval knight who must rescue a princess. There were thematic similarities between Black Angel and the Star Wars saga, and Christian made use of step-printing to slow down action sequences, a technique that would come to be mimicked by countless others. Black Angel was shown to European and Australian audiences immediately preceding Empire, and for those who saw it, it was something special and became part of Star Wars lore.
Black Angel, however, was lost for thirty years. No known complete print of the film existed until one was recently discovered at Universal. Now, you can watch it in its entirety.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.