11/15/2016

I AM YOUR FATHER (Review)

Title: I Am Your Father  
Writers/ Directors:  Toni Bestard, Marcos Cabotá  
Cast: David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Jeremy Bulloch, Ben Burtt, Marcos
Cabotá, Lou Ferringo     Year: 2015  
Min: 83  

David Prowse is the actor who played one of the greatest villains in cinema history: Darth Vader, in the original Star Wars trilogy. He is now 80 years old and has been, for many years, completely forgotten/ ignored by Lucasfilm, despite his iconic role. Two Spanish filmmakers try to discover what lead to this behavior by Lucas and company and attempt to pay loving tribute to the actor. They also decide to this by giving him the chance to do the one thing Prowse never could or was allowed to do, play the scene in Return of the Jedi where the redeemed Vader removes his mask and shows his face (in the actual movie actor Sebastian Shaw played him for this pivotal scene).
I Am Your Father is an excellent documentary about an actor that seemingly has gotten shafted by Lucasfilm and might be forgotten by some. But, he shouldn't be. True Star Wars fans know this. And, this docu solidifies and reminds us why. It consists of interviews with people who worked behind the camera on the Star Wars films, and actors and friends, who know and or worked with Prowse. Shit, even James Earl Jones, who gave Vader's voice chimes in. It is fascinating to find out what lead to George Lucas/ Lucasfilm and their ultimate ignoring of Prowse and whether it is warranted or not. And, of course, there is lots of interviewing of Prowse. He comes off as very sweet and despite the animosity shown by Lucasfilm, his great love of the Vader and Star Wars endures.
 I love that there is a Hammer Films poster behind him.

The interviews are honest and captivating as is the structure of documentary. It moves swiftly and is clearly done by a duo who love Star Wars, Vader, and Prowse. Their decision to shoot the unmasking Return scene is, in of itself, is proof of it. By the last 15 minutes or so, I was so moved, tears ran down my face.
There are no Star Wars clips, but I didn't expect there to be. However, being a HUGE horror fan (with a true love of Hammer Films) on top of being a HUGE Star Wars I loved that they showed clips of his Hammer monster roles (like his excellent portrayal of the monster in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell). They also show his crossing the street commercials which reportedly saved thousands of lives in England. Getting back to the horror connection, it is also awesome that while the credits role, we are shown pictures of horror/ monster actors like Boris "Frankenstein's Monster" Karloff, Lon "The Phantom of the Opera" Chaney, Robert "Freddy Kreuger" Englund, Doug "Pinhead" Bradley, etc, and Prowse is shown among them. It's a truly perfect way to end the proceedings.
This is the second of two must see documentaries concerning Star Wars released this year. The other being Elstree 1976. Both are must sees (and both are on Netflix, right now), and both feature Prowse. It's actually on that one that I first heard about the heat that Lucas holds for Prowse. But, this one is the better of the two. In fact, this is the finest documentary on Star Wars since The People Vs. George Lucas. 
I Am Your Father is entertaining, honest, loving, and moving. I cannot say enough good things about it. I had the pleasure of meeting David Prowse at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors many years ago, but I knew about him ever since I was a little kid. Darth Vader is my favorite character in the Star Wars franchise, a film franchise I so very deeply love. Any and all Star Wars fans must see this docu, especially since, as I mentioned earlier, is on Netflix currently. Highest possible recommendation. 

4 out of 4

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