MOVIE REVIEW: ELSTREE 1976
The Star Wars Saga is full of iconic characters. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia are the stars that have legions of fans. But what about Greedo? Or Gold Leader? Maybe Fixer rings a bell?
Some casual Star Wars fans have no idea who these people are. They can’t be blamed for their ignorance. They were the minor characters who maybe had a scene or two of note in the iconic 1977 film. But the die hard fans know exactly who they are.
Elstree 1976 takes a loving look at the extras and actors who played the small roles in Star Wars. While the documentary is not the most thorough or detailed behind the scene look at Star Wars, the charm of the people who played a small part in a galaxy far, far away carries the film.
Some of the actors and extras featured in the film are somewhat well known. There is David Prowse, the man who gave Darth Vader his towering figure and Jeremy Bulloch who played personal favorite Boba Fett. Prowse is always a fascinating interview, a man so brash he dared to question film icons George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick. However, those looking for more insight into the feud between Prowse and Lucas will be disappointed.
However, the more fascinating and entertaining subjects are the lesser known ones. Angus MacInnes, who is still a working actor, played a Y-Wing pilot and is one of the more fun subjects. His love for film making is obvious, but he also brings a pragmatic and grounded viewpoint of Star Wars and the movie business.
Anthony Forrest is best known for appearing in a deleted scene from Star Wars as one of Luke’s friends. His life before and after Star Wars is incredibly fascinating. Among other things, Forrest has met John Lennon and continues to be a busker or street musician.
And then there’s the incredibly outgoing Paul Blake, the actor behind Greedo. The kind of man who tells you his life story when you simply say hello, Blake is one of the stand outs of the documentary. Even extras like Pam Rose, Derek Lyons and John Chapman are charming as hell.
While the actors are a bit flabbergasted by the popularity they were given for such small roles, they are grateful for it. They acknowledge that some of the fandom can get weird, but for the most part they love the people who come out in droves to see them.
The stories these people share give us a glimpse of the shooting of Star Wars. Unfortunately, it is just a glimpse. There are stories about George Lucas, and Mark Hamill, but there is virtually nothing or barely anything about the other actors. In some ways, this is good; it allows Elstree 1976 to focus on its subjects. But I can’t help but feel like something is missing. The documentary also starts with a notably cinematic style that virtually disappears by the midpoint.
Elstree 1976 is also something of a niche documentary. If all of the characters mentioned above mean absolutely nothing to you, then this may not hold your interest. However, that might be a mistake. Yes, the documentary is aimed squarely at a certain audience, but it’s not just Star Wars Fans.
This is a documentary for film fans.
The most evident trait all of the people featured in Elstree 1976 is their absolute love of film. Some of them have left film making and acting behind, but the love for it is so evident with every smile and laugh. If you have ever dreamed of creating, acting or even writing (Looks at self), this documentary will give you glimpse of the passion people feel for their work.
Elstree 1976 may not be the epitome of documentary film, but its charm and passion make up for it. The love the filmmakers have for their subjects is infectious and it deserves a look.
Score: 7 out of 10
MOVIE REVIEW: ELSTREE 1976