Cast your mind back to 1980. The Empire Strikes Back has just been released. I’m a gawky, geeky teenager who spends his time writing stories, drawing spaceships and making disturbing Super-8 films. I’m also rabid with anticipation for the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker. So imagine my dismay when, after queueing outside Bournemouth’s Gaumont Cinema for four hours, it dawns on me that before I can return to a galaxy far, far way I have to sit through a support film called Black Angel.
Now imagine my delight when, as I settle back in my seat to endure the torture that is the British B-movie, what I get is in fact a wondrous dreamlike feast of an Arthurian myth, filmed in a misty autumnal Sottish landscape and featuring grimy knights knocking seven bells out of each other in a kind of hallucinatory slow motion.
Fast forward 34 years and I’m delighted all over again, as I find myself interviewing Black Angel‘s writer/director Roger Christian for Cinefex.
Here’s a short extract from my article about the making of Black Angel, which you can read in full on the Cinefex blog:
Black Angel tells the story of a mediaeval knight returning from an overseas war. Finding his homeland destroyed and his family dead, he decides to return to the war. On the way, he falls into a river and is transported to a mystical realm where he has to fight the Black Angel – a figure representing death itself – to save a maiden in distress.
Christian first started thinking about Black Angel while at film school, in which he enrolled following his work on Star Wars and Alien. Despite more offers of design work, he dreamed of become a film director. “I remember sitting at home – I was eating a bowl of brown rice and I was absolutely broke – when I was offered the design on Conan the Barbarian,” he recalled. “I turned it down because I was trying to get Black Angel made – but I couldn’t afford to get it made at film school.”
Fate stepped in while Christian was sitting in on a sound mixing session for Alien. “Sandy Lieberson, the head of Fox, came in. I told him the story of Black Angel and he said, ‘Fax it to me tonight.’ The next day he called me and said, ‘Do you mind if I send this to George Lucas?”