Black Angel 1980
If you are a Star Wars fan you might remember the short that was shown before 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. An Arthurian legend, The Black Angel filled a 25-minute slot before the main screening and it has since taken on cult status – so much so that it is now to be shot as a full-length film with Eilean Donan Castle as the location.
The original negatives of Black Angel were thought to be lost but the film was rediscovered after 34 years and given a special screening at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2014.
Black Angel was the brainchild of Empire director Roger Christian who shot it on a shoestring budget of £25,000. Roger, who gave an introductory talk at the Glasgow screening, stated that, from the start, there was only one place to film – Scotland.
How this came about is intriguing. Christian had taken ill during the making of a film in Mexico and admitted to hospital.
Eilean Donan Castle was destroyed in 1719 and restored between 1912 and 1932. Black Angel 2 will be filmed there.
He told film fans: "I was near death and for some reason on a wall in the room where I was being treated there was a poster of Scotland. It showed lochs and it helped me want to stay alive."
The outcome was that in 1979 Christian arrived at Loch Shiel, Wester Ross, with 11 cast and crew members and Black Angel was born.
Compared to today's enormous film budgets, working with just £25,000 meant the use of locations was limited. The castle of Sir Maddox, the film's hero, was not a castle at all but the ruins of Bernera Barracks at Glenelg dating from 1717 and built to confront the Jacobite threat.
In the room where I was being treated there was a poster of Scotland
In Black Angel 2 Bernera is to be reborn as Eilean Donan which, it may come as a surprise to know, was a shapeless ruin until restored between 1912-1932 after which it became the picturesque location for other films including The Master of Ballantrae in 1953 starring Errol Flynn followed by Prince Valiant in 1954 and Highlander in 1986.
Bernera Barracks featured as a castle in Black Angel. It was unroofed during the Clearances to prevent occupation by evicted crofters
We look forward to seeing one of Scotland's most iconic castles' starring role in Black Angel 2.
Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle. "Black Angel 1980" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia