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The previously lost film that played before Empire Strikes Back has been found

Back in 1980, George Lucas wanted a film to play with Empire Strikes Back in the UK and ended up commissioning then art director Roger Christian to make it. Christian, who had set-directed Star Wars, and art-directed both Alien and Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian, made the short film in Scotland and titled it Black Angel. The film is a swords-and-sorcery tale of a knight traversing a plague-stricken land with many elements of dream imagery and mythical archetypes woven throughout.

Christian says that John Boorman screened the short for the crew before beginning filming on Excalibur, and the influence is clear on that film, along with other works like Lionheart and Ladyhawke. The short also proved influential to Empire Strikes Back as well—the fighting sequence in Black Angel is step-printed (slowed down in a specific way) which would later be used in the fight between Luke and the Darth Vader vision on Dagobah in Empire. Prints have been lost for many years but one was recently rediscovered and now the film is on YouTube in total, complete with an introduction by Christian. The director (who would later rise to infamy as the helmer of Battlefield Earth) also promises more news on the film, so look to Twitter for whatever updates those might be.

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