A little while ago, in a city within driving distance of my home, I met David Prowse –the one and true Darth Vader– for upwards of a minute after I paid either him or his handler the mandated $15 for an autographed picture. There is photographic proof of this encounter somewhere. Of course I knew who he was, but frankly at the time, I was more excited to meet Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and of course, Ray Park, whose face was on my undergarment at the time of meeting him…full if not completely unnecessary disclosure.
My point being any Star Wars fan worth their salt knows who David Prowse is. That he spends almost every weekend (according to the documentary) at a con or fan festival does nothing but further reinforce this fact.
So why I Am Your Father feels as though it needs to redeem the man behind the most recognizable mask in the known world had me curious. And with Rogue One less than a month away, I gave it a shot.
The documentary itself has a few thesis points that it wants to make. Questions they want answered are: Who is David Prowse the man? Why wasn’t his the face we saw at the end of Jedi? Did Lucasfilm wrong him? Who or what is the…ahem…”force” responsible for David Prowse not yet receiving an invitation to any of the official Star Wars Celebrations?
Writer/Directors Toni Bestard and Marcos Cabota do their best to answer these questions along the way while trying to build up the mystery of whether or not David Prowse will be part of the unmasking Vader scene re-shoot.
I’m not sure how I feel about the overall success of their mission. Yes, they fill in the blanks to all the questions they want answered (to the best ability of anyone willing to talk to them) , and SPOILER ALERT: Mr. Prowse totally agrees to be in the re-shoot, but the whole thing feels a little scattershot in the end. As though they’re telling you the story first hand, but keep going off on tangents before getting back to their focus, and “oh but also we forgot this part which may or may not be relevant by the end”.
The filmmakers say they wanted to give back recognition to him for his contribution to the Star Wars legacy. With the exception of the official Star Wars cons snubbing and infamously being replaced as Anakin by Sebastian Shaw, I personally don’t see where he isn’t getting it, even within the doc itself.
Yes, there seems to be a still open wound inside of him about his face and voice being switched that just doesn’t want to heal. And yes,maybe the filmmakers want to help repair that by re-shooting the final scene and showing it to a small group of people, but end of the day, if you’re holding on to a grudge for THAT many years, will re-shooting that scene with new actors only to be viewed by a handful of people ever really fix you?
It’s an interesting watch as it gives you a brief recap of his life and career (I took special joy in finding out that his wife considers Star Wars to be an intrusion on their life together…even HIS marriage isn’t immune). The film itself doesn’t give any big reveals to Star Wars buffs who might be looking for extra behind the scenes details. Also, due to rights, you never actually see all of the finished re-shoot. Still, I’ve spent an hour and a half doing much worse things. (Looking at you Episode I.)
I Am Your Father is currently streaming on Netflix.