One of the most iconic props in Hollywood history was actually created from an old piece of photography equipment for about $15. the lightsaber.
YouTube channel DigitalRev recently shared a feature video on the little known history of the well-known prop, and it’s a history that starts in an small photo shop in London.
Set director Roger Christian was tasked with finding props for the movie on a limited budget. According to the video interview, Christian said he wanted the items to look like they had a history –that they were used and not something just brought out of the box.
Christian was at a small photography shop in London when he asked the proprietor if he had anything unusual he might use, which is when he brought out a box that likely hadn’t been opened in a decade and pulled out a camera.
But it was what was attached to the camera that caught the set director’s eye — a Graflex three-cell camera flash. Christian bought the flash, and for about $15, adjusted the flash handle and painted it with blue projection material to turn it into what’s now universally known as a light saber.
That first flash handle became Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Darth Vader’s was also made from old camera gear. The flash handle wasn’t behind all of the light sabers, including Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, for example. It began life as a balance pipe from a Rolls-Royce jet engine
While the original lightsaber was constructed for pennies compared to modern Hollywood budgets, DigitalRev says Luke’s original lightsaber sold for $250,000, making it one of the most valuable film weapons in history. The flash handle originally picked up for less than $20 now often costs four figures, thanks to demand from fans learning how to build their own variations.