Black Angel, Black Angel short film, The Empire Strikes Back short film,

‘Black Angel’, the Film That WASN’T The Empire Strikes Back

This short film – which has just been uploaded to You Tube – represents one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood (up there with the time I was run over by a lorry).

Picture this. It’s 1980. You’re 9 years old. You’ve been Star Wars obsessed since 1977 when the original film came out. They’ve made a sequel after a long wait (3 years was an eternity at that age), and you are delirious with excitement. Your older brother takes you to to the cinema to see it. After the endless trailers and Pearl & Dean adverts, the lights finally dim, the curtains open, and at last the film begins. Only… hang on, this isn’t the Empire Strikes Back. What the hell is this? Black Angel?!

I turn to my brother and say something akin to “wtf?”, he answers: “Oh no. We’re in the wrong cinema.”

Me: “Then let’s go to the right cinema! The one showing The Empire Strikes Back!”

Him: “We can’t, it’s already started. We’ve missed the beginning.”

Me: “I don’t care. I want to see it!”

Him: “Don’t worry, we’ll go an see it another day. Let’s watch this instead.”

I’m sure this back-and-forth continued, but as it did I started crying, and I continued crying. A lot. Instead of The Empire Strikes Back, I was watching whatever the hell this dark, low budget, ponderous, weird British medieval drama was.

I sat there and watched it all, sobbing away at how unfair this all was, lamenting that next door there was a cinema full of people watching The Empire Strikes Back – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK! – while I wasn’t.

After Black Angel ended, we didn’t leave the cinema. My brother said let’s wait. So we did. AND THEN, the lights went down again, the curtain opened, and… well, it may have been a dark time for the rebellion, but it was a moment of utter joy for me.

So Black Angel was simply a film (which in memory was a whole feature, but I now discover was only 25 mins) shown before the main feature, something they used to think was a good idea. It was was only shown with The Empire Strikes Back in the UK, and perhaps Australia and New Zealand.

It may have been only 25 mins, but my brother let me cry all the way through Black Angel just to fuck with me.

And I’ve never forgotten it…

(Thanks for taking me though.)


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