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A few years back, I had the opportunity to see Fritz Lang's science fiction masterpiece Metropolis in theaters. Thanks to the addition of some recently uncovered scenes long thought lost, it was the most complete version of the film that had screened since 1927, when studio execs cut it down considerably to better appeal to audiences of the time. Even with some portions still missing, Metropolis was a marvel, not only of dystopian science fiction, but also of filmmaker imagination and ingenuity. Without the wizardry of modern computer imaging, Lang and his team crafted a marvelous movie monster who could topple society, and created a fascinating, futuristic Metropolis that still inspires artists today. Thanks to some spectacular behind-the-scenes photos, modern audiences can get a fuller appreciation of the work that went into building some of cinema's most captivating film worlds.
The image above as well as many others from iconic science fiction and monster movies, from The Empire Strikes Back, to Back to the Future, Planet of the Apes, Close Encounters Of Third Kind, Alien 1 & 3, , and Universal classics like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man, have been collected over at io9. But we've plucked a few of our favorites here.
There's plenty of mind-bending shots that reveal how many sets we know well were just miniatures, lovingly detailed. But the photos I found the most jarring are those of monsters in moments of rest between takes. Sure, the shot of impossibly tall and lanky Bolaji Badejo without his Alien mask on is practically iconic in its own right. But how about one of 2001: A Space Odyssey's primates enjoying a smoke while reading the paper?
Or this chill pic of an ape from Planet of the Apes enjoying some shade and a soda?
Or this shot of the Wolf Man napping with a surprisingly calm canine friend?
And here's Boris Karloff enjoying some toast and tea while coated in his Frankenstein prosthetics.
Finally, a half-dressed Godzilla (circa 1954's Gojira) steps through his blocking.
Looking at these, it's impossible not to feel nostalgic for the days where filmmakers had to physically create their movie monsters. Le sigh.