This kind of Doc should be right up my street; I remember both the summer of 1976 and of course the media hysterics surrounding Star Wars‘ release the following summer (and Winter here in the UK). Sometimes it feels rather like yesterday, and Star Wars still something new and relevant and exciting, but that was 44 years ago- its like looking back from the perspective of 1977 and thinking about films made in 1933. That’s a little like comparing Star Wars to the 1933 King Kong, which makes me feel older than I feel and depresses me. Thinking like that can depress anyone.
Sometimes I think I’ll always be ten or eleven deep inside, like 1976 etc is locked away in there, all those Marvel comics I was reading, or paperbacks like Logans Run and the Making of book about the 1976 King Kong, with Star Wars and Close Encounters and Superman: The Movie just around the corner…
Alas Elstree 1976 finds it too difficult to really capture the feeling of 1976: I think it should have shown some news footage or home movies, maybe, of that summer and how people dressed and what music we listened to (ABBA, for one thing). Yeah, the soundtrack missed a trick there; it should have played songs from 1976 to emphasis the sense of the ‘now’, the fashions (hideous as they may be now). Capture the moment and how this country was back then. A sense of the place, too, as I really didn’t get any feeling for what Elstree was like that summer.
I did enjoy the reminiscences of some of those involved in the making of the film: maybe it should have been opened up more to talk with some of the craftsmen and technicians as well as those actors. Some of the stories and observations were fine, but it seemed to only briefly actually talk about making Star Wars at Elstree before going off to talk about later careers and movies and convention appearances. Much of that was padding out the running time- as it is, the film could have been half-hour shorter and lose very little. Indeed, had it been edited to 60 minutes it would make an excellent extra on a home release of Star Wars.
Still, at least it offered some perspective away from the stars of the film who usually take all the attention, and I really did appreciate some of the observations, sense of perspective some of them had regards this strange little movie that refuses to go away like most others did.
Elstree 1976 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime