“Behind the masks. Beneath the helmets. Big People. Small Roles.”
Directed by: Jon Spira
Synopsis: An exploration of the unsung heroes of the Star Wars universe, the actors behind the masks and makeup, and how the franchise has changed their lives for better and for worse.
Elstree 1976 gives a voice to the voiceless. Quite literally in the case of David Prowse, who donned the Darth Vader costume in the original Star Wars trilogy, only to have his lines famously (and iconically) dubbed over by James Earl Jones. It showcases the actors and actresses whose lives were touched upon by the beloved franchise to varying degrees, and who left their marks on the series as well. Be it Paul Blake, who played Greedo (and mercifully is never asked who shot first), or Derek Lyons, an extra on A New Hope.
Though it is the likes of Prowse and Black you tend to find yourself wanting to hear about (i.e. the actors whose characters you have a deeper affiliation with), there is a heavy focus on those in the supporting cast. Each of them has their story to tell, and each of them is as lovely as you’d like, but when you have David Prowse discussing being banished from Star Wars conventions by George Lucas, they feel like a bit of a distraction. Talk of geek culture, the idea of celebrity, and the politics behind the celebrity hierarchy adds a touch of spice, but mostly it’s nice people, with nice tales about their brief time in a galaxy far, far away. All of which amounts to a perfectly pleasant documentary for those looking to delve a little deeper into lesser-known Star Wars history.
Rating (out of 5):
Elstree 1976 is available to rent now on We Are Colony.