Today: July 22, 2024

Flash Gordon (1980)

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been 40 years since the Queen-fuelled Technicolor spectacular that is Flash Gordon first hit the big screens.

Based on the 1930s comic strip of the same name, over the last 80 years, Flash Gordon’s influence can be seen on everything from fledgling sci-fi to sprawling space operas like Star Wars. In fact, George Lucas tried unsuccessfully to buy the film rights.

Turning the Superman trope on its head—Flash is an Earth-man stranded on an alien planet—this was a comic that had it all. Great characters, fabulous world-building, and a magnificent sense of fun. 

Buster Crabbe had previously starred in three hugely successful movie serialisations in the 1930s and these were considered the gold standard of Flash adaptations. Initially King Features—who owned the rights—wanted Fellini or Nicholas Roeg to direct their 1980s reboot. However they finally settled for British director Mike Hodges (Get Carter).

Hodges and screenwriters Michael Allin (Enter The Dragon) and Lorenzo Semple (King Kong) decided to go big, bold, and camp. This, along with Hodges’ casting decisions, undoubtedly had a lot to do with the film’s success here in the UK.

Surprisingly it wasn’t that big a hit in the US, but since its release it’s gained a massive cult following.

StudioCanal’s new, 4k restoration perfectly captures the vivid colours of the sets, skies, and costumes. It also corrects some of the SFX problems that Hodges had at the time—most notably the Hawkmens’ wires, which were still visible in some 35mm prints. With Hodges approval, these have been removed and the prints restored and repaired in line with the director’s original vision. 

StudioCanal’s spectacular 4K Restoration is an absolute joy. This is how restorations should be done. 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The UHD, DVD and Blu-Ray Disc 1 includes:

  • The main feature (1 hr 47).
  • New Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon (also iTunes extra).
  • Audio commentary with Mike Hodges.
  • Audio commentary with Brian Blessed.
  • Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon
  • Stills gallery (also iTunes extra).
  • Storyboards gallery (also iTunes extra).
  • Original theatrical trailer.

Blu-Ray Disc 2 includes:

  • Interview with Mike Hodges.
  • Episode 24 of Flash Gordon (1979-1982): The Survival Game/Gremlin’s Finest Hour.
  • Sam Jones’s acting start.
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise.
  • Bob Lindenmayer discusses deleted scenes and original endings.
  • 35th Anniversary Greenroom.
  • 35th Anniversary reunion featurette.
  • Renato Casaro extended interview.
  • Brian Blessed anecdote.s
  • Melody’s musings.
  • On the soundtrack (Brian May & Howard Blake).
  • Easter Eggs.

The 5 disc Collector’s Edition includes:

  • The UHD and 2 Blu-ray discs.
  • Bonus Blu-Ray Disc of LIFE AFTER FLASH, the 2017 feature documentary celebrating the film and it’s star, directed by Lisa Downs.
  • Original soundtrack by Queen & Howard Blake.
  • 32 page booklet.
  • 16 page Titan mini book (The Story of Flash Gordon).
  • Reproduced booklet of the first strip of original comic books.
  • Poster of original artwork.
  • 4 art cards of various incarnations of Flash film posters across the years.
  • 1 sew on ‘Flash patch’.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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