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Thirty-five years ago, a legend was born...

Who is Roger Christian?

Roger Christian shot to fame when he won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his work on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. By the age of 34, he'd already created R2D2, the lightsaber and an entire arsenal of interstellar weaponry.

Black Angel was his directorial debut, as he teamed up with cinematographer Roger Pratt to create a stunning visual spectacle. His retelling of the classical hero's journey, set in a mythical evironment, has influenced a great many films, including John Boorman's Excalibur, and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. 

He is also known for his work as Art Director on Alien, which earned him another Academy Award nomination.




As viewers sat down to watch ‘Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’ in 1980, they were shown a short film. It was so mysterious and dark that many never forgot it. Its name was Black Angel.

The project began when Roger Christian, Art Director on ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’, was given the green light by George Lucas to turn his fantasy script into a short film. Having spent years designing droids and space stations, he now set about creating a medieval fantasy world, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Check out the original poster on the right, by artist Mark Raats.
But then it was lost. For decades, it was thought the film had gone the way of Han Solo, frozen in time. But then, in 2011, a negative was discovered by complete chance, and painstakingly restored frame by frame. The legend has been brought back to life, and it’s available for you to watch on YouTube today.

Working with a shoestring budget, Christian helped create some of Star Wars' most memorable scenes.

In 1977, the battered look of the rebel spacecraft was a completely new idea, and a radical departure from the shiny perfection of previous sci-fi interiors. In an interview with shadowlocked.com, he recalled creating the Millennium Falcon: "It's like you own a car... you buy it second-hand and you keep repairing it and fixing things and it gets dented... and in the end that's how it is."

Christian details how he made the very first R2D2, as well as hundreds of Star Wars weapons, in his book Cinema Alchemist, a must-read for Star Wars fans. The book also contains rare insights into his work on Alien and Black Angel.

Working on Star Wars


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