ELSTREE 1976

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

With the umpteen retrospective releases on film, DVD, Blu-ray, and book form - with J.  W. Rinzler's insightful official accounts of the production and release of the Star Wars films - you would have thought there might not be anything else left in the tank to provide extra perspective on what any number of geeks have probably researched over the internet etc.

However, with help from the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign and a bit of ingenuity, director Jon Spira has managed to track some of the key figures behind the supporting roles, with the likes of David Prowse (Vader), Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader), Paul Blake (Greedo), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), and Anthony Forrest (Fixer) providing their own journey before and after that fateful Summer of 1976 in Elstree Studios.

Inevitably, given the fact that this is more of a documentary that is set outside the circle of completion of Lucasfilm, there are only fleeting glimpses of the production and probably stills that have been seen before. Still, there are some personal recollections in photo and memory from the names above and others, including one anecdote regarding who claimed credit for the infamous Stormtrooper bumping his head as they entered the control room where the heroes located Leia and the tractor beam.

Elstree 1976 on balance is going to be of interest primarily to die-hard Star Wars fans and people who aren't swayed by various campaigns and Internet stories and in a rather twisted irony, the independent nature of the documentary actually falls within Star Wars creator George Lucas' determination to maintain autonomy when he made the film, so whether or not he has actually approved of this work remains to be seen. David Prowse does at one point bring up his own detachment from the official circuit with a ban from certain conventions and the current Disney contingent who are refusing to allow him into the inner circle of prestige.

As a long-term Star Wars fan, this writer actually found this quite an illuminating documentary, if only for seeing some of those character favourites as they are four decades on, and it is enlightening to hear the principal actors talk about their own inside experiences in their various roles. There is a semblance of disappointment at the lack of actual on-set footage with the subjects here, but given that even the official archives are limited to the Making Of montages and the Empire Of Dreams supplement on the DVD release some years ago, it is a faint hope that this might turn up once Episode IX is completed half a decade or so from now in the complete box set that is doubtlessly going to be released in the not-too-distant future.

At 97 minutes long, it is compact and does hold the attention, so well worth a look nonetheless.

ELSTREE 1976 / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JON SPIRA / STARRING: DAVID PROWSE, JEREMY BULLOCH, PAUL BLAKE, GARRICK HAGON, PAM ROSE / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 14TH

 


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