Elstree 1976 Review

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North London, 1976. At the famous Pinewood Studios a new heavyweight was being brought to life: George Lucas’ Star Wars, changing the face of the modern cinema experience forever. But while he and his stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were making the leap into superstardom, a similar albeit smaller scaled leap was happening for those whose faces you didn’t see but whose impact were just as substantial.

North London, 1976. At the famous Pinewood Studios a new heavyweight was being brought to life: George Lucas’ Star Wars, changing the face of the modern cinema experience forever.

Elstree 1976 tells the story of the background artists that helped bring one of the defining blockbusters of all time to the screen and their stories and experiences, both positive and negative. With the exception  of Dave Prowse perhaps, the giant looming British figure who was the man behind the mask as Darth Vader, many of those interviewed here you have probably never heard of but their contribution was such that even today hundreds if not thousands of Wars fans seek them out for autographs and photos at comic-con’s.

Director Jon Spira has crafted a sincere, heartfelt doc that not only embraces the lure of Star Wars and it’s decades of power but also the ways in which has shaped the lives of those involved – some used it as a platform to jump to other things while the rest struggled to adjust to the fame and the whirlwinds that come with. Indeed, it’s very much a reflective piece on not just their time on-set in North London all those years ago but also about chasing and losing the “Hollywood dream” and its power to both bless and curse.

Director Jon Spira has crafted a sincere, heartfelt doc here that not only embraces the lure of Star Wars

Those involved give some brilliant insights and anecdotes into what happened on the set (one involving coffee and George Lucas is the film’s best) and the contributors’ passion and avuncular natures help make the film immensely enjoyable. The only disappointment is that there isn’t a whole lot of footage from the set from 1976/77 to reference from bar some photos and film footage. But Spira and co smartly add their own take on what “downtime” on Star Wars may have looked like.

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All in all Jon Spira’s documentary is a fascinating insight into the lure of this business we call show. With some wonderful insights from all of those involved, Elstree 1976 an essential piece of history for both film lovers and Star Wars fans young and old.

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