Review of 'Elstree 1976'

elstree_1976.jpg In 1976 a little known director was creating a film in small London film studio that would ultimately change the lives of everyone involved. In “Elstree 1976” we meet some of the actors, including body-builder David Prowse (who was the body, but not voice, of Darth Vader, sadly passed away in 2020), and extras involved in the filming of “Star Wars” and learn how the experience changed their lives. The film begins with each of these people giving their personal background and how they eventually came to find themselves on the set of one of the biggest films of all times. Surprising in this is the relative ease that many of them had at being included though perhaps not so surprising when considering how little faith people seemed to have in this film becoming as big as it eventually did. How the ultimate success of the film affected each of them shows how big it did become to the point that now fans are willing to spend money on autographs for people who were not even in the credits but simply glimpsed only briefly in the background of some scene…The actors interviewed here were as surprised as anyone but managed to take advantage of the situation by going around the convention circuit to meet with enthusiastic fans.

Coupled with archival images and film footage “Elstree 1976” is a mild-mannered documentary that has no particular agenda other than highlighting how even small players in the biggest film of all time have been affected by their involvement. There is no big message here but there are many moments that will be a surprise to most viewers including the lengths to which fans will go to get close to those involved, even in an incredibly minor away, with the film. There are also amusing anecdotes the interviewees share of their relationships to the primary cast and the director with one whose first day involved him having George Lucas get him a cup of coffee.

An interesting but very slow moving film telling the story of how even minor actors involved in the filming of Star Wars had their lives turned upside down and always to be remembered for their involvement. The amount of talking heads here really slows the film down and with no real message to tell, this is narrative with no ultimate goal. Yes, interesting but not much more.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-01-24

Directed by: Jon Spira

Studio: British Film Company

Year: 2015

Length: 97 minutes

Genre: Documentary