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Have Cheetah,Will View #26 – “Elstree 1976 (2015)

It’s 3:49 am

Next to last transfer of my reviews from the older blog. I decided not to move a couple of small short films as I don’t think anyone would benefit from reading them.  I may change my mind but for now…
Elstree 1976 was my first review of a documentary and I enjoyed this film quite a bit. To all of the new readers here,I hope you’ll enjoy it as well. I posted this on 20 Oct 16.

It’s 7:43 pm

Like so many folks,I am a “Star Wars” fan….while not a fanatic,I have been known to read a Star Wars novel here or there. I thought the first three movies were far superior to the 2nd trilogy. While I think Star Trek is endlessly better,Star Wars does have the much more badass ships,I mean,can you see a Imperial Super Star Destroyer come out of warp to face the Enterprise???

The first Star Wars came out in 1977 and was a huge hit worldwide. It made huge stars of Harrison Ford,Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as well as cemented George Lucas as a top director. The Star Wars train blasted off and really,has never slowed down….but what about the other actors who starred in the movie? The ones hidden by makeup or in some cases,Stormtrooper uniforms? Or maybe a extra,while having no dialogue,were featured in key and well loved scenes?

This is the premise behind “Elstree 1976”,a documentary that crowd-funded via Kickstarter and directed by Jon Spira. It is a true labor of love and respect and for the most part,Spira does a fine job in capturing the pride,envy and in some cases,regret from the 9 men and 1 woman interviewed here.

The film starts off by introducing each actor by the make-up or costume they each wore.
Each person then shares their role in the film with a small clip showing them in the film.
Some folks are literally on film for a split second while others do have speaking parts that actually are in today’s pop culture.
The most well known name in this documentary is David Prowse,who played Darth Vader but whose voice was famously done by James Earl Jones. What is interesting is watching the filming and hearing Prowse acting out the script,he had no idea that his voice would be replaced after filming was completed.
The actors share what they have been (or have not) been doing in the time since the film was completed,while some went on to a small measure of success,many have led normal lives,they talk about “what might have been”.
Two things that really stand out is how fan conventions have really helped these folks but the politics behind the tables is something else. The infighting between a actor who had a few lines of dialogue versus someone who was just an extra really catches one’s attention. I found it personally sad to see and instead of a group who should have bonded over their shared experiences,are left bitter and jealous of each other.
The other thing is how Prowse has been treated by George Lucas and Disney. He has been banned from all official Star War events and reunions because of a falling out with Lucas.
He said he got in trouble when he signed pictures “David Prowse IS Darth Vader”. Why would he get in trouble over that? The fallout was a costly one as while Prowse played Vader in all three films,Lucas decided to use Sebastian Shaw in “Return of the Jedi” as Anakin Skywalker once Luke removed Vader’s mask and at the end of film as Luke looks at his father and Obi-Wan. Poor Shaw was digitally replaced himself by  Hayden Christensen in later editions of “Jedi”.

This is a very well made film,it really does a good job in capturing what the spirit of some of folks who were forever made famous,even if it was for a split second. Spira treats everyone he chats with with respect and gives each of the 10 actors interviewed time enough to express themselves. “Elstree 1976” runs for 90 minutes but plays much faster.
There are no extras on the DVD release which would have been nice to see but on a tight budget,I can see why that happened.

The cheetah and I both liked this and give it the thumb/paws up!


16 thoughts on “Have Cheetah,Will View #26 – “Elstree 1976 (2015)

  1. That must have been a bit disappointing for the David Prowse! Someone else’s voice coming out your mouth has got to be uncomfortable for an actor. I remember watching Star Wars as a child and loving it, although I’m not a fan of either Star Wars or Star Trek anymore. Maybe I should watch one again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting read. I’ve heard of this film but I didn’t know Prowse was banned from all Star Wars events. It’s a bit silly I suppose. I mean Star Wars has survived due to fans like Prowse who felt compelled to pay homage to the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I bet this is fascinating. My husband is a huge Star Wars fanatic and I wonder how he would feel about the politics behind all of this? Particularly the feud between Prowse and Lucas. Will definitely be passing the word along to him, I don’t know if he has even heard of this! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My dad was a huge sci fi junkie so I Have seen most and was in love with Hans Solo of course. It is interesting to learn the behind the scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this is so cool, i love movies like this and you just did justice to it in a very stylish way, good thing is the fact that i never knew of a thing like this ever happened but you just gave me a good insight to what most of us never knew happened behind., strange enough i have not really followed the movie proper.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt bad about what happened with David Prowse!! I not a big fan of Star Wars though I really liked its first part.. It was amazing to read the story behind Vadar..
    Kudos to Jon Spira for releasing out Elstree..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never heard of this movie, but will need to check it out. I’m also not a huge Star Wars fan. I enjoy it, but it’s not a huge deal to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. what an interesting review. The name of this film rang a bell with me but I had no idea what it was about. Probably not the kind of thing I would watch but sounds ideal for a die hard star wars fan.

    V ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds like a really fascinating movie. Is it stupid that I knew James Earl Jones did Darth Vaders voice, but I didn’t know he didnt actually play him! I feel really sorry for the guy who did!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds like a rather interesting film, and no doubt something I’d happily watch. I am afterall a big fan of the “first” Star Wars films. Saying that, I had no idea about David Prowse, poor chap.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember David Prowse was also the Green Cross Man and like you say it’s odd how he was treated. I also remember queuing the length of Queen Street in Cardiff to see Star Wars in 1976. The original is still the best.


  12. I preferred Star Trek too! My husband an older son will want to see this though and now I will be able to sound knowledgeable when they talk about it to me!

    Liked by 1 person

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