For the original Star Wars film in 1977, Set Decorator and prop maker Roger Christian created a totally new look in sci-fi film by using found objects to give George Lucas' fantasy worlds a feeling of authenticity.
Christian dressed the Star Wars sets with airplane scrap and modified WWII guns to create menacing, realistic sci-fi weapons. He built the prop for Luke Skywalker's lightsaber out of vintage camera parts, creating a true cinema icon that has endured across four decades of the Star Wars saga. Christian's radically innovative approach won him an Oscar -and transformed the look of sci-fi cinema forever.
The story behind Roger Christian's realization of the Star Wars "used universe" has been a great missing chapter in the history of the Star Wars saga -until now. Christian's new feature-length documentary Galaxy Built on Hope gives us all the details in Roger's own words, a feast of exciting new stories for fans and film historians alike.
Today Star Wars is a massive global franchise, but once upon a time it was a fragile experiment in the hands of a few cinema revolutionaries. How did these pioneers create the look of a grand space fantasy epic on a small budget with no precedent to guide them?
Based on his memoir Cinema Alchemist and enhanced with numerous interviews, Roger's documentary Galaxy Built on Hope fills in a major missing chapter in the history of the making of Star Wars. The film tells the story of the Star Wars Art Department and how Roger worked with the brilliant production designer John Barry to bring George Lucas' fantastic vision to the big screen on a budget.
Roger Christian's insights provide us with stories never shared before, from a man who was actually there. He was right in the center of the action on the Star Wars design team, creating innovations that would change the look of science fiction film for decades to come.
In his documentary Galaxy Built on Hope Roger Christian shares his perspective and reveals the process behind creating the look of one of the most powerful movie franchises in film history.
At this time Galaxy Built on Hope can only be viewed on DVD and Blu-Ray disc; the film is not available anywhere as streaming content.
Running an impressive 2 hours and 23 minutes, the movie incorporates material that would otherwise be exported into bonus features -or cut to fit standard programming lengths. "This long cut is a cut for fans," explains director Roger Christian. "I wanted to give them all the detail they've been asking for all these years. Now they've finally got it." The 2:23 cut features material that will be exclusive to the disc versions of the film. "We'll have to cut this down when we prepare it for streaming," says Roger, "The disc version of the film is the only way to see the entire story of Galaxy Built On Hope!"
The documentary features cutting-edge remote interview techniques, a virtue born of necessity. The COVID-19 pandemic struck right when production on the film began, threatening to cripple the project because no one could travel to studios for the planned interviews.
Christian accepted the challenge to carry on in spite of the restrictions. "That's the Star Wars tradition," he says. "We did it on New Hope all the time."
For featured interviews Christian and editor Daryl Davis used digital compositing to bring together on screen people who never saw each other in real life. Elements shot in different locations, even in different countries, are combined to give the appearance of conversations that never actually happened.
Galaxy Built on Hope features exciting CG animated sequences that give viewers a unique glimpse into the director's imagination. Some of these sequences reveal how Christian saw Star Wars in his mind when he first read George Lucas' script, before the final designs had taken shape. Other sequences illustrate essential inspirations that shaped Christian's approach and influenced his work on the film.
This makes Galaxy Built on Hope look completely different from conventional documentaries, but "I didn't want this to be just a lot of talking heads," Christian says. When it came to illustrating his story, "the fans have seen Star Wars clips a thousand times," the director explains. The animated sequences offer viewers a wealth of material they've never seen before.