DIRECTED BY: Jon Spira
CAST: Paul Blake, Jeremy Bulloch, John Chapman

In 1976, George Lucas began filming his first Star Wars movie at Elstree Studios in England. The documentary Elstree 1976 tells the story of ten actors who were featured in the groundbreaking sci-fi opera, even if only for a moment, and how their small roles affected their lives and careers afterwards. If you’ve ever wondered who was underneath the helmet of a stormtrooper or fighter pilot, then look no further.

The narrative is fluid and the different stories are interwoven seamlessly with one another, even when the interviewee seems to have no connection to the next. Director Jon Spira guides the overarching story in a linear way, first showing how each performer started out in show business, then how they got cast in Star Wars. Some were already from England, while others found their way to the London area to eventually wind up in the 1977 groundbreaking blockbuster. We watch on as these people tell tales from on set, later giving us their feelings about their respective roles and the perspective they’ve g gained since those days.

Some were under the impression their characters would have a greater importance in the film, while others were satisfied merely being an extra, even making a career out of it later on.

Almost each case is interesting in its own right, including Anthony Forrest, who played a character named Fixer, featured in a deleted scene as one of Luke’s best friends. The scene was cut from the film entirely, much to the disappointment of Forrest. However, he also had a helmeted role playing a sandtrooper who gives us one of the most iconic moments in the movie. So Forrest wound up in the film after all, but the bittersweet irony is, he was hidden under a mask.

Some weren’t aware of their diminished and virtually non-existent roles until they watched the premiere. Think about how excited you would be that you were playing the best friend of the main character in the biggest movie of all time, telling everyone you knew about your part, just to have all but two of your lines cut, and left with ten seconds of screen time.

This is exactly what happened to actor Garrick Hagon who played Biggs, an ace pilot whose role in the film got infamously truncated. Actors have some of the biggest egos, and their profession is extremely competitive. So a blow like this can be embarrassing in the moment, but can also affect you forever for better or worse.

While some were devastated by the end result, others were thrilled. One of the extras, Derek Lyons, claims he never wanted to be a star, desiring only to make a living being involved in film at any level. And that’s what he’s done throughout his career. He’s been in some of the biggest movies of his generation, yet has hardly ever had any lines.

These ten individuals have gained a lot of wisdom over the last forty years and can now look back at their experience with the hindsight and incisive perspective of someone who’s been through the ringer and out the other side of the Hollywood machine. Perhaps the movie makes too many esoteric references and implies too much for those who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of Star Wars, such as the deleted scenes at Tasche Station or the random alien in the background at Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina, but this is a documentary for those biggest fanatics of the franchise.

I think the issue some people have with Elstree 1976 comes from their expectation that the film is supposed to provide commentary on the Star Wars movies themselves. But Spira knows that there is already an abundance of content and behind-the-scenes information on the trilogy, so he creatively finds a new spin, providing for us original content we may not have been already privy to.

Elstree 1976 expands the much-expansive Star Wars universe in a unique way. But it’s not only intended to be a Star Wars film. Spira uses his project as a way to convey the complicated dynamic of working actors in the industry, using the groundbreaking 1977 classic as the backdrop to get the audience familiar with and invested in people they may not have been otherwise. And by the end, we not only know that they exist, but care about them as well.

Some were under the impression their characters would have a greater importance in the film, while others were satisfied being merely an extra, even making a career out of it later on.

I think the issue some people have with Elstree 1976 comes from their expectation that the film is supposed to provide commentary on the Star Wars movies themselves. But Spira knows that there is already an abundance of content and behind-the-scenes information on the trilogy, so he creatively finds a new spin, providing for us original content we may not have been already privy to. Elstree 1976 expands the much-expansive Star Wars universe in a unique way. But it’s not only intended to be a Star Wars film. Spira uses his project as a way to convey the complicated dynamic of working actors in the industry, using the groundbreaking 1977 classic as the backdrop to get the audience familiar with and invested in people they may not have been otherwise. And by the end, we not only know that they exist, but care about them as well.

About the Author: Ethan Brehm

Ethan Brehm

Related Posts

TRENDING

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

TRENDING now

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE