Film Screening 4th May, 2016

Poster for Elstree 1976

Elstree 1976 

7:30 PM, 4th May, 2016

  • PG
  • 103 mins
  • 2015
  • Jon Spira
  • Jon Spira
  • David Prowse, Anthony Forrest, Garrick Hagon, Angus MacInnes

If you need only to look at the title to be able to guess at once what this documentary – screening on May the 4th, no less – must be about, then obviously it’s the film for you.

But in case you need some prompting: Elstree is one of several film studios in or near London. Alfred Hitchcock’s first British films were shot there, as were three films we’re showing this semester (most notably The Danish Girl). And, in 1976, one of the films shot there was Star Wars.

This is the story of the little people involved in that 1976 Elstree shoot – or as director Jon Spira points out, big people, in little roles – literally big in the case of the hulking bodybuilder under Darth Vader’s cape (whose voice was unheard because George Lucas didn’t want Vader to sound like an apple farmer). We also meet people such as the guy playing Greedo, various extras and fighters, perhaps the only recognisable female in the Cantina scene – and also, in a fun bit of trivia, the guy behind the Boba Fett mask, who didn’t technically appear in the films until The Empire Strikes Back but was in Elstree in 1976 to film a single scene that ended up being cut from the original film.

I won’t tell you their names here, because in the course of the film we’re introduced to them properly – and we find out what happens when professionals just doing their job have small but pivotal roles in one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the 20th Century.

Henry Fitzgerald