Star Wars. The name of that movie, now a series of movies, is iconic and known throughout most of the world in many languages. For my generation it is the defining film, the one that shaped our imaginations and gave way to a whole new way for filmmakers to make sci-fi movies. It produced 3 sequels, 3 prequels, countless fan films, TV series, toy lines and everything else you could possibly think of and is showing no signs of stopping. But back in the 70s it was a phenomenon and a movie that we as kids could not know enough about. We read about it in magazines, we exchanged stories on the playground as to our theories on the characters, and we collected every toy and promotional item we could get our hands on. Now, 40 years later, we still want to know about that original movie and there are still stories to be told about it. Elstree 1976 is a new documentary telling the story of Star Wars from a perspective we have never heard from before.
Elstree 1976 is the story of Star Wars told from the perspective of the many extras, bit part actors and actors under masks and makeup that helped make Star Wars such a unique and special film. The man under Darth Vader’s mask, Boba Fett, the legions of Stormtroopers, the creatures filling the legendary creature cantina at Mos Eisley, these are the people who saw the whole film come together under the direction of George Lucas and then saw how the finished film transformed a generation.
As a devout Star Wars fanatic, Elstree 1976 was one of the most nostalgic, intimate and endearing films about Star Wars I have ever seen. The best way I can describe it is imagine you walk into a random British pub. You sit down and casually start talking to the older men and women sitting around you and you discover they all happen to work on one of your favorite films and proceed to tell you stories you have never heard before. That is Elstree 1976. By the end of the film you will feel you know these people, you will feel a connection to them and their place in the Star Wars universe. Writer/Director Jon Spira creates a wonderful narrative that is not only a great story of the making of Star Wars but a great insight into making films in general, and the people that it takes to put together a film. People you usually hear nothing about. For Star Wars fans this is essential viewing and for everyone else, fan or not, this is still a unique and thoroughly entertaining documentary that I highly recommend.