Black Angel

Directed, written and produced by: Roger J. Christian
Cast: Tony Vogel, Patricia Christian, James Gibb, John Young
Composer: Trevor Jones

Well, here’s a wee treat for you.

Black Angel tells the story of a knight returned to his homeland to find it devastated by a strange disease. When his life is saved by a young maiden, he vows to fight a mysterious Black Knight on her behalf.

It’s a visual treat with an amazing soundtrack, and worth taking 25 minutes out of your day to watch. This version also has an introduction from the writer and director Roger Christian (film starts at 2:04).

Black Angel was made in 1980, and released in some cinemas ahead of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The film in its entirety was thought lost for decades, until a full 35mm print was found just a few years ago. There was a limited release in festivals when it was first restored, and it was available to stream online too. It’s now been, rather wonderfully, made free to watch online in all its glory.

The writer and director is Roger Christian, who worked as an Art Director on Star Wars and Alien, then went on to direct films. His friend and colleague George Lucas apparently gave him £25,000 to make Black Angel, as well as mentorship, in gratitude for Christian’s amazing work on Star Wars.

Black Angel was shot around Scotland – Eilean Donan castle features prominently at the start – and has a wonderful, atmospheric feel to it. If you’re a fantasy or SF fan like me you may find some of it familiar, as there’s no doubt elements of it have influenced later filmmakers.

Composer Trevor Jones worked on the soundtrack, lending it that certain something that has made so many films outstanding – he also composed The Last of the Mohicans, Excalibur, and Labyrinth to name a few.

I am a huge fan of 80s fantasy – HUGE. Why wouldn’t you be? The 80s boast The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Time Bandits, Highlander, Legend, Willow, Excalibur, The NeverEnding Story, Highlander, Ladyhawke, Conan, Return To Oz… and that’s just the live action films. I know there are problems with some 80s fantasy films, like ropey screenplays, a lack of diversity and sometimes hammy acting, but there’s still a lot to love. The look and feel of them, the music, the gorgeous sets – they are pure escapism, and don’t try to hide it. This joins their ranks, and it’s great to see a fantasy shot in Scotland.

Read a 2010 interview with Roger Christian on the making of Black Angel, and see the Black Angel facebook page for (apparently) some ‘special news’ in the next few weeks.

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