This week Roger J. Christian, who won an Academy Award for his work as Set Decorator on Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), published a reader comment to one of my older articles concerning the prop lightsabers used in that first Original Trilogy film, and two featured at the NRA Museum acquired from Ellis Props. I feel Mr. Christian’s information as principal production member directly involved in the props was definitely important to highlight here and memorialize as part of the ongoing dialogue concerning memorabilia in the marketplace that is characterized by some as “authentic” and “original” to the production, when that might not be the case.
The original article to which he responded can be found here:
- November 3, 2008 – “Ellis Props “Star Wars Luke Skywalker Lightsaber”?”
As originally written in the opening of that article, I “came across a blog post about an “original prop Luke lightsaber” from Star Wars on display at the National Firearms Museum at the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Upon researching this piece, I found a number of questions about the authenticity of the prop that I have yet to resolve in the favor of its attribution.”
Jim Supica, the Museum Director at the National Firearms Museum also took the time to respond via Reader Comment at the time of the original article. This message was republished at a stand alone article update much in the same way as I am doing with Mr. Christian’s message today:
- November 6, 2008 – “Ellis Props “Star Wars Luke Lightsaber” Update – Comments from Jim Supica, Director of the National Firearms Museum”
Below is the new message published yesterday by Roger J. Christian in response to the first Original Prop Blog article on the NRA/Ellis lightsabers:
1 A New Hope was filmed at Elstree studios, then called EMI in Boreham Wood.
Only 1 scene was filmed at Shepperton studios the X-wing fighter hanger.
2 I bought all the graflex flash handles as Set Decorator through my buyer on the film Peter Dunlop. I made the original prototypes myself by hand, sticking the T-strip on and the bubble strip and the D-ring.
The ones i made were used in the film as we had no time to make more when shooting started in Tunisia.
All my mockups were handed over to John Steers to make the blade, a concentric motor span the wooden dowel, painted with front projection materials. This was also used in the film to give some semblance of the sword, and rotoscoped at ILM who created the actual blade in post.
Ellis had nothing to do with them, and the one shown here in the museum is simply an original graflex flax handle which anyone can buy.
I have 7 or 8 of the original handles and am assembling some as protoypes exactly as I made them.
All the exact details of how this and all the weapons and robots and sets were made is my book, coming soon Cinema Alchemist.
I will send a link to both Mr. Supica and Mr. Christian in the event either have any additional thoughts or information to share on this topic.
Another relevant article to the discussion:
Roger J. Christian was also kind enough to post a reader comment to another Original Prop Blog article on another topic in the past:
- May 22, 2009 – “Shepperton Design Studios Expands Line of “Post Lawsuit” Unlicensed Replica Star Wars Props”
Special thanks to both for engaging in a dialogue on properly identifying these important artifacts.