While everyone eagerly awaits Star Wars: Episode VII, fans have a new reason to get excited. Roger Christian's long lost fantasy short film Black Angel will become available for the first time ever this year, possibly through iTunes or Netflix and may be part of a DVD re-release of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back.
What's so special about this particular short? While it doesn't tie directly into the Star Wars mythology, the 1980 film was shown in theaters with the original May 21, 1980 release of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back in select localations. It was the directorial debut of Star Wars art director Roger Christian and was thought to have disappeared forever, until the film was rediscovered in December 2011.
George Lucas himself commissioned the short as a companion piece, which served as an introduction to Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Production began in 1979 after George read and approved the script himself. Roger Christian was given a tight budget of $50,000 to make the short, which clocks in at 25 minutes.
Black Angel centers on Sir Maddox, a medieval knight, who returns from the Crusades to find that his family is missing. As he makes his way through a mystical realm, he encounters a beautiful maiden who appears to be drowning. The knight learns that the maiden is being held prisoner by a black knight, and in order to free her, must confront this Black Angel.
Check out two clips from the film.
Black Angel was only ever screened in Europe and Australia, and became something of a myth. Young kids remembered seeing it, but a lot of Star Wars fans didn't believe that the movie existed. Director Steven Spielberg was a fan, and called it 'one of the most enigmatic films' he'd ever seen.
While all copies where thought to be lost in 1980, an archivist working at Universal Studios discovered a negative in 2011. 33 years later, the film, having been digitally restored, made its second premiere at the Mill Valley fest in October of last year. It then played the the Glasgow Film Festival in Scotland shortly there after.
No official release date has been set. While Black Angel does not carry any of the same characters of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, it does hold a lot of the same themes. Because it was released with, and tied into the production of what some call the best Star Wars film of the entire franchise, many fans view it as an essential part of the overall Star Wars experience, and many would like the chance to watch it alongside this installment of the series. They will soon get their wish.
"I would like it to be with Star Wars, because it's history. It belongs there."