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Long-lost Scottish short now online

Press Release   •   May 13, 2015 15:46 BST

Black Angel, the short film attached to initial screenings of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, has now been made available on YouTube until the end of May 2015.

It was re-premiered at the 2013 Glasgow Film Festival, as an essential piece of Scottish cinema, and is now available for anybody to watch for free. It has now been uploaded to YouTube, accompanied by an exclusive introduction from director Roger Christian.  A crucial part of the Star Wars legacy, Black Angel was commissioned by George Lucas, who chose it to accompany Empire in Europe and Australia.

The 25-minute film was produced and filmed in Scotland on a budget of £25,000, given to Christian by an Eady Scheme fund from the UK government. The film headed into the Highlands in a Volkswagen campervan, a horse trailer and a small van.

Speaking of his choice of location, Christian said: “I already had an idea for locations in Scotland. For me Eilean Donan is the ultimate romantic castle, while the landscape of Kyle of Lochalsh is spectacular. With just the vans and a horse trailer we were able to get right into these beautiful locations. We went in September and October because then the light in Scotland is fantastic.”

An epic fantasy adventure, the script follows a knight (Tony Vogel) who returns from the Crusades, only to be transported to a fantasy world to rescue a princess from the clutches of a dark and mysterious character. Shot in the Scottish Highlands, the film highlights the beauty and majesty of the location. It was loved by fans and industry tastemakers the world over, with Steven Spielberg describing it as ‘one of the most enigmatic films I’ve ever seen.’

Following its release, all copies of the film were lost for over 30 years. That is, until December 2011, when an archivist at Universal Studios came across the negative. The prints had ended up in the US after the collapse of the UK studio Rank, which had stored the prints along with other film negatives in WWII bunkers. The film was restored frame by frame by a visual effects company, before having its ‘re-premiere’ in October 2013 as the closing film of the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. It was also released on iTunes in early 2014, where it quickly ranked as ‘#1 short film.’

Christian won an Academy Award for Art Direction for his work on the original Star Wars movie. He was also nominated for the same award for his work on Alien. Christian is widely acknowledged as a key part of the ‘Star Wars family’ of writers, directors, cinematographers and crew who have been involved in the billion-dollar franchise since day one. Black Angel was his directorial debut.

Jenni Steele, VisitScotland’s Marketing Manager for Film, Culture and Heritage, said: “It’s fantastic that this classic short film, in which Scotland looks absolutely amazing, is now available for people to watch online. We don’t need to use Jedi mind tricks to encourage people to visit Scotland, but anything that helps show off our unique country to the world is to be welcomed. Around 40 per cent of visitors to Scotland are encouraged to come here after seeing it on film or television, and Black Angel really does show our spectacular scenery at its very best.” 

Black Angel is now available to watch on Youtube:
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