Black Angel is a 1979 short film that was put together for the sole purpose of preceding The Empire Strikes Back in cinemas, back when it was still a thing cinemas did. Its relationship with penultimate movie in the Star Wars franchise (chronologically, at least) is nearly zilch, except for the fact that it used an editing technique that found its way into Lucas’ somewhat more famous work.
Put together by then-Star Wars set director Roger Christian, the 25-minute long Black Angel was only ever shown in “parts of Europe and Australia”, according to Esquire’s Jeremy Singer, before becoming lost in the murky depths of time for 30-odd years. It was never shown in the States, making it the subject of rumours and speculation.
Black Angel has since been found and restored and will be release soon for public consumption “this year”, most likely via iTunes or a similar service.
What makes the film particularly interesting is the fact the finished product required a little creative editing to fit into its near half-hour time slot, so Christian and the film’s (unnamed) editor decided to use a method called “step-printing”, which resulted in a slow motion-like effect. The technique looked surprisingly good, so much so it caught the attention of George Lucas himself:
“It looked amazing,” Christian says. Lucas was apparently so impressed with the fight sequences that the technique was then edited into The Empire Strikes Back during a scene with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in a cave. “He liked that look.” Black Angel’s stunning Arthurian appearance would also go on to influence fantasy movies in the 1980s like Excalibur and Legend.
You can watch a few minutes of Black Angel in the clip above, but for the full feature, we’ll have to wait.