Elstree 1976



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 81% · 27 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 40% · 250 ratings
IMDb Rating 5.9/10 10 1522 1.5K

Plot summary

A documentary about ten very different lives connected by having appeared onscreen wearing masks or helmets in Star Wars.

February 11, 2024 at 02:31 AM


Jon Spira

Top cast

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
James Caan as Jonathan E.
Christopher Reeve as Superman / Clark Kent
930.54 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 41 min
Seeds ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rkhen 9 / 10

Brilliant little film

Well, after reading the pouty petulance of half a dozen butt-hurt sci-fi nerds in this forum, I figured a grown-up ought to weigh in.

This is a great movie. Yeah, it has "Star Wars" in the deck. No, it isn't really about Star Wars. It has that in common with life.

Elstree 1976 has a novel premise: let's sit down and talk with several people who had uncredited bit parts in one of biggest smash hits in history. What is it like to have had a tiny, expendable role in a huge cultural event?

In other words, it's not really about the movie. It's more about that old Patricia Rozema line: "Isn't life the strangest thing you've ever seen?" This is a meditation on living, working, hoping, striving, failing, changing your mind, and growing old. The interviewees are engaging, funny, personable, and wholly aware they're "nobody". And a little bemused that anybody wants their autograph, or to interview them. And refreshingly grateful for that, every last one.

In sum, Elstree 1976 is a pleasant evening spent with people not much older than those of us who saw Star Wars first-run, talking about things people our age can understand.

I like Star Wars. I went into this expecting another rehash of Star Wars lore, which would have been mildly entertaining. What I found was something much rarer than that. If you're more than half an inch deep, you'll appreciate it.

Reviewed by kirbylee70-599-526179 8 / 10

I'd Like To Thank The Little People...

Those are the famous lines spouted by actors for decades. They always want to thank "the little people", those inconsequential actors, extras and crew members who make the star shine. But rarely do we ever hear about them and they never receive the accolades that the stars do. No one even makes movies about them. Until now.

STAR WARS is perhaps the biggest cultural event film made in the last 50 years. It was released, sequels were made, all were re-released, prequels followed, we got an all-new movie last year, a movie tie-in is coming as well as a sequel to the new movie. And while all had a handful of stars in major roles what most don't consider is the number of bit players and costumed actors that are found running around in each of these movies.

ELSTREE 1976 takes a look at those actors. If you were in a mask or played a small role in the original film you were there watching it all happen at Elstree Studios in 1976. The film makers here have gone back to those actors now and discussed with them the experiences they had in making that first movie. Matched with their appearances in that film we see them as they are now, masks off or a little aged for those who didn't have to wear masks. Each of them talks about their time and it makes for a nice backstage look at movie making.

Not only do we get to hear them talk about the making of the film we get to find out how it influenced their lives moving forward as well. Various cast members went on to roles in other films or TV projects, some of them recognizable when it is pointed out. For them you'll be watching and saying "Oh yeah! I didn't realize that was him/her!" We see where they are today and what they're doing as well as those no longer with us.

I've read some reviews of this film that take its makers to task for focusing on the minor bit players while ignoring some of the bigger name stars that were made who also wore masks. I find it difficult to side with those complaints seeing as how many of those stars have had programs made about them already as well as their appearing at numerous conventions to sign autographs to this day. The focus of the cast members here were those who aren't as recognizable, who didn't jump onto other major projects in starring roles, who haven't gotten the recognition that those others did. For me that makes the movie even better, giving them a chance for the recognition they deserve as well.

Understand going in that this is not an action packed film. We don't see tons of clips from the original movie. We get glimpses of these people in their roles, see them now and get the chance to listen to them talk about their experience. It is a documentary not a narrative film. And yet it is still interesting to watch. Fans of STAR WARS will find themselves listening to these tales with rapt attention. Others might find it interesting as well. For me it was a treat and worth watching.

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 7 / 10

oh yeah, and that guy was there, too.

Maybe slightly too long (yeah, even at 100 minutes), but there's a lot of wonderful anecdotes from all of these 'walk-on' players and actors and people-behind-masks, and it's not completely about the making of Star Wars either. I think that was what pleasantly surprised me the most; not only that, the people talk about where they came from and their personal lives to an extent - all of them, from what I could tell, came from working class backgrounds, had sometimes sick/dead family members, and it was not necessarily always a 'I'm going to be this kind of actor' let alone any kind of recognizable entity - and, after Star Wars, how their lives fared.

Some kept on working in movies (there's one guy who went on to be in a number of films as the sort of 'oh, hey, background guy' in films like Living Daylights and Last Crusade), some didn't (the one actress, who barely considers herself that, found that she was more keen on getting her walk-on roles and not really seeking anything more), and some went on to being other iconic figures (Dave Prowse as... cross-walk guy?) There's also a good deal of time spent talking about fans and conventions, and the reactions to how these cons go isn't anything too out of this world (as one of them says, 95% of the people are terrific, the rest are... weird), but it adds another level on to the proceedings.

Most interesting is the bit about how there is a sort of tier system as far as people going to these conventions, with one man being interviewed (I forget his name but he's the guy that gets blown up in the X-Wing after shouting "Loosen up!" and recalls not remembering his lines out of order) saying that at one con a guy came trying to make himself into a thing when he wasn't even credited... and then this same guy, one presumes - or someone like him- is interviewed, and I mean, hey, that briefing scene on the Death Star on Yavin had a LOT of guys, you know. And meanwhile a guy like Prowse says with only a bit of bitterness that he isn't asked to conventions anymore, certainly not the official SW ones, but it doesn't seem as anything sad, like he knows he's made some bad blood along the way ...(the context, in case anyone's curious, Prowse used to be really terrible when it came to leaking info about the sequels when they were in production, to the point where he wasn't given the pivotal line in 'Empire' due to his loose lips, so that may be a reason he neglects to mention, but I digress)...

The key thing with Elstree is that you don't have to be a major Star Wars fan to see it. I'm sure it helps, and having listened recently to the 'I Was There Too' podcast with Anthony Forrest (the 'Mind-Trick' Stormtrooper, and another character cut from the final version), there's some extra things to find out about these people that make them interesting all within this context. Stylistically it's talking heads and a sprinkling of film clips, stills, (mostly from SW, and sometimes, to emphasize a character as the one neat trick, the film does a kind of back and forth loop like one might see on, of all places, Instagram, but it works as a 'here's this guy or woman').

What it comes down to is that these people would be great fun to talk to in sum, and that's the important thing. While the fandom is nice for these people, it's not everything (not even for Prowse, not anymore, or Jeremy Bulloch, the one actor interviewed here that wasn't there in 76), so in a way this is more like a series of human interest stories that happens to have as the connecting thread of 'Oh yeah, that sci-fi movie that the quiet bearded guy was directing). It works for both crowds, even as it's special up to a point, a 'good for one watch' thing.

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