In 1979, George Lucas was looking for a good short film to show in theaters before The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980. Roger Christian, the set decorator on the first Star Wars film, was commissioned to make a 25-minute film for Lucas. It was Christian’s first attempt at directing a film, and he only had a £25,000 ($50,000) grant to do it with. The result was Black Angel, a medieval fantasy about a knight who must rescue a mysterious woman. Christian and his tiny crew shot the film in Scotland.
But back in London, Christian's editor informed him that there wasn't enough footage to meet the 25-minute contract. To lengthen the film, they decided on a new option at the time, called step-printing, which produced a slow-motion effect during fight sequences by printing one frame repeatedly.
"It looked amazing," Christian says. Lucas was apparently so impressed with the fight sequences that the technique was then edited into The Empire Strikes Back during a scene with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in a cave. "He liked that look." Black Angel's stunning Arthurian appearance would also go on to influence fantasy movies in the 1980s like Excalibur and Legend.
Black Angel was shown before The Empire Strikes Back in Europe and Australia, but not in America. Then the film was completely lost for thirty years! A negative was recovered under mysterious circumstances in 2011, and the complete restored short film will be available for sale soon. Read the story of Black Angel, and see a clip, at Esquire. -via Digg