Star Wars creator George Lucas wanted a short film to play before the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, back in 1980.
Roger Christian, who won a Best Art Direction-Set Decoration Academy Award for his work on the original Star Wars (also credited as the creator of the lightsaber and R2-D2) and was also nominated for the same Oscar for his work on Ridley Scott’s Alien, had written a short titled Black Angel. When Lucas read it, he decided it was exactly what he was looking for.
After the theatrical run, Black Angel was lost and remained so for around 30 years until just a few years ago when it turned back up. Now, fully restored, the short film has been made available for all to see, and you can do so below.
Here’s a short synopsis for Black Angel:
A knight returns home from the Crusades only to find his village devastated by disease and his family gone. He roams the forest searching for them, until he finds a mysterious maiden in a lake who asks him to kill the evil black knight.
While he’s done great work as an art director and set decorator, and he was a second unit director on Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, Christian has also tried his hand as the primary director, beginning with this short film. Unfortunately his work directing features hasn’t gone so well. Some of his directing credits include Nostradamus, Masterminds, Stranded, and the infamous Battlefield Earth.
At the beginning of the video Christian tells the story of how the short came to be and mentions some “very exciting news” coming June 2nd. Your guess is as good as mine as to what this might be, but I can’t help but think maybe a feature-length version of Black Angel could be on the way?
Oh, and if you’re wondering what scene in Empire Christian is talking about that used his slowed-down fight style, it’s this one.
What are your thoughts on the short? Do you remember seeing it in theaters?