The 25-minute film called Black Angel was the directorial debut of Star Wars art director Roger Christian, made with financial assistance from George Lucas. It centers on a knight returning from the Crusades who is transported to a mystical realm where he must rescue a princess from a black knight. “When George read the script, he felt it was very suitable to go with the Star Wars legacy,” Christian says. (It was shown in 1980 as a short in Europe and Australia, before Empire Strikes Back.)
The movie’s gorgeous art design and cinematography influenced many Arthurian myth films that followed, from Excalibur to Legend. Christian slowed and elongated the action scenes with a technique called step-printing, which Lucas then used for a lightsaber battle in Empire. “Fans had rarely seen images like this on the big screen,” Christian says.