Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien
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For the first time, Oscar-winning production designer and director Roger Christian reveals his life story, from his earliest work in the British film industry to his breakthrough contributions on such iconic science fiction masterpieces as Star Wars, Alien and his own rediscovered Black Angel.
This candid biography delves into his relationships with legendary figures, as well as the secrets of his greatest work. The man who built the lightsaber finally speaks!
sunk into the control panels. Each control station had to have a sea of switches and levers and controls, emergency lights, helmets and equipment. At the back of the bridge behind the flight-control sections, was a large underlit navigation table. Stanfords, the huge map store in Covent Garden, had transparent sheets of maps of the star systems so we ordered some of those to lay on the table. We needed navigation instruments as well, and I figured that even if they had a computer-controlled
Kubrick’s film The Shining at the same time. Companies like Rank and Samuelson’s helped support emerging filmmakers. The rewards are that the filmmakers return when their careers gather momentum, and relationships are formed. Mike was great at this and recognized my ambitions. He really helped Alan and Roger and me; Rank bent over backwards to treat me as well as any top director. They are sorely missed from the UK scene now. So we had it all in place. I just needed my two large heavy horses.
Tunisia to try to make the illusion of floating work. It needed the expertise of a car company and Ogle might well fit the bill. Les Dilley took over the making of the landspeeder and he and Norman Reynolds went to the Ogle factory in Hertfordshire to discuss making it. Time constraints were one of the major issues. Ogle was really enthusiastic about the project, and agreed to do it. They took on outside commissions to design and make other work besides their car line, so were able to turn
Star Wars. Uncle Owen had to walk down a line of second-hand robots the Jawas were selling, and choose C-3PO and eventually R2-D2 after the first choice astro droid unit blew up. I needed a selection of eight or nine robots for the lineup, and some spare ones to dress around. John Stears had been instructed to have some radio-controlled ones working for the action required, R2-D2 as a three-legged unit, and the red astro droid blowing up as it moved forward. In its three-legged mode Kenny Baker
as he described it. Also on board was art director Les Dilley, and he knew what was needed as he had gone through the Star Wars journey with me. Alien was a different look to Star Wars but needed the same techniques to achieve the reality Ridley aspired to. Star Wars was pure fantasy but set in a real world and filmed that way by George. Alien had to be a hardcore industrial reality. The crew were bickering workers basically, trapped together inside a space submarine. If this world could be