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"Only the mad know, the impossible is possible!"
April 2019
This Blog is offering a colorful kaleidoscope of movie magic for cinema aficionados.
Crispy peanuts, thin-skinned baloons and thrilling sensations on celluloid.
See offbeat goodies and magic crumbs ...weekly!
The Reality behind the Fantasy! - The Story behind the Spectacle!
No inflated endlessly long stories, but short and crisp. 
'This is Helmet time!'
Photos beat content!
Welcome to the manege of madness! - Have a pleasant trip!

Jeanne Moreau on set for 'Mata Hari, Agent H21', talking with Director Jean-Louis Richard, her divorced husband, 
and their son Jérôme Richard.
What a happy Family idyll on the set!
Too bad that this idyll has clouded the senses of one or the other.
The movie does not really run smoothly.
Its missing the right bite, tension, atmosphere and style.
A toothless tiger is sucking on a meatless bone.
'Mata Hari' is a pretty boring, in parts only very modestly staged, 'World War I' spy flick with Jeanne Moreau as Mata Hari, 
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Claude Rich and Marie Dubois.
Only in the last third of the movie the show gets a little more powerful and slightly better.
Anyway, the only stylish crumbs in this merciless waste of time are the costumes of Mata Hari, 
designed by Pierre Cardin.
5/10
On Set in Paris for a scene in the end of the movie, the arrest of Mata Hari.
Jean-Louis Richard was never really a feature film director.
His missing experience is clearly recognizable.
A good director could have done more with this material.
Rehearsing a scene for 'Mata Hari, Agent H21', Paris, 1964.
The son of Jeanne Moreau watches his mother at work.
A little fun on the set between 2 takes.
Mata Hari (Moreau) and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
The different sets are equipped quite spartanic, which suits the often plain scenes pretty well.
A few pictures are staged nicely and interesting.
Cinematography by Michel Kelber ('The Hunchback of Notre Dame', 'John Paul Jones').
But in the end, over all the tiresome length of the film, that's not enough to convince.
A few years later Producer Eugène Lépicier produced the Jean-Pierre Melville masterpiece 'Le samourai'.
Every minute of the Melville movie has more style and atmosphere than the entire 'Mata Hari' disappointment!
A rough and dirty little 'World War I' spy flick was produced by the Italian movie mogul Dino de Laurentiis.
His gripping rusty wire brush is called 'Fräulein Doktor' and shows the fetching Suzy Kendall as deadly super spy.
You have to see that: 
On Set with 'Fräulein Doktor' - Anesthesia is something for wimps.
Lunch break for Mata Hari and the film crew. 
Sausages, beer and wine!
Alcohol can cover a lot ...Jeanne is obviously in a good mood.
The last meal shortly before the Execution of Mata Hari.
Even the final scene in the film, the Execution, does not make a good impression.
Pretty simple mediocrity!

'Jurassic Park III' shows the 'Stan Winston Studio' at it's best!
As the animatronic sector has developed a lot over the years, the crew had the unique opportunity 
to beef up a few of the old heroes (T-Rex) and to design and built new dinosaurs, 
like the very impressive and hellish powerful Spinosaur.
My personal favorite dino of the 'Winston' Jurassic Park movies is the majestic Pteranodon!
Originally scheduled for the 'Lost World', the Dino had to wait for "JP III" to finally get permission to fly.
The Production design and Art direction crew designed some wonderful sets for the thrilling chase sequence 
with the mighty 'bird'.
The Pteranodon (Winston puppet & CG) pursues his prey through various perfectly prepared studio stages and set-pieces.
The chase ends in a deep valley with steep cliff faces and water beneath, built at the 'Falls Lake' outdoor tank 
on the backlot of Universal Studios.
A pretty costly, elaborate and complicated sequence.
But every second is awesome!
Director Joe Johnston and executive producer Steven Spielberg talk about the eerie Pteranodon chase scenes.
From the ceiling hangs a 'parachute rig' for a scene with Alessandro Nivola (Billy).
The 'parachute rig' in a test-run. 
The ceiling of the huge Pteranodon Canyon consists mostly of a silk cloth cover (top right).
Steel cables were stretched over the canyon with rig points for the flying stunt rigs and other special effect gimmicks.
The Falls Lake Canyon set was 80 feet tall and 300 feet long and with the help of matte paintings, painted backings 
and CG set extensions even bigger.
Backed by a colossal scaffold rig!
The daily work on and in the Set was a tough job for all involved. 
The water tank had a depression in the middle, in which several clueless crew members submerged.
A waterproof pants gives you a certain security ... that can suddenly be over ...when you are on the way to the bottom!
The foam set pieces were stabilized and held in position from behind by a huge scaffold.
As the set was built outside, over the pool at Falls Lake, lighting was an ongoing problem.
It took quite some time to manage the atmospheric shots, with fog and soft skylight, 
that we see in the finished movie (pimped with CG fog, etc..).
The Winston crew built an awesome Pteranodon suit (a crazy plan!), but it is no surprise that most of the action with 
the snappy bird was finished with CGis.
For the climactic scenes of the Spino shredding the boat the crew attached the Spino rig to an underwater track 
at the studio's man-made Falls Lake location.
Great scenes!
Another day, another scene ... but the feet are still wet!
For the water cascade effect they pumped up the water to the top of the cliff and let it go...
The Set Design is excellent. 
The colors, the vegetation, ...the whole Canyon Set is a perfect backing for the scenes.
Preparations for filming a scene down in the canyon.
Through the water cascades, the humidity in the canyon increases significantly.
Everyone protects themselves as much as possible against the ingress of moisture.
Look at all the nice little Set decoration details, like fallen or stranded branches.
A small but impressive 'Jurassic Park III' Set is the airplane fuselage, that has crash landed into a treetop. 
The hungry Spino snaps at the people inside.
Powerful hydraulic jaws are looking for prey ...
The crew built a huge jungle set on Stage 12 at Universal Studios.
The special effects department of Donald Elliott lifted a full-size fuselage mock-up onto a treetop/gimbal.
To navigate the giant Winston animatronic Spino to the right spot was a bit tricky.
The thing had enormous power and could easily hurt the poor Players in the mock-up.
The creature's jaws were puppeteered by Rob Ramsdell (Stan Winston Studio).
He knows all the teeth of the Spino, since he painted them all, hundreds of teeth!
More of the Jurassic Park series can be found here: Mommy and Daddy T-Rex in 'The Lost World'.
And you will find several Winston Studio stories hidden in the blog and website, 
here is one on the Killer Hippo in 'Congo': King of the Pool!

Your comments are always welcome!
Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Sometimes.

'Lifeforce' is a multi-million-dollar B-Movie Monster of enormous size and scope, directed by Tobe Hooper, 1984.
An epic sci-fi horror flick with ingenious visual surprises, like the VFX work by John Dykstra and his famous Apogee shop.
The glorious creature effects were handled by the British wizard Nick Maley ('Krull').
But these things are all well known and already described perfectly in numerous sources.
Nick, for example, is very active on the web and he has already published every photo available (Facebook).
On the other hand 'Lifeforce' is packed with so many great pictures and there are still lots of little known 
details to discover. 
Let's talk about the great Sets, the model miniatures and stuff like that.
So far, very few information and photos have been published on these topics.
'Lifeforce' - The Story behind the Spectacle!
Here we see the 'Lifeforce' Embankment Set - restricted zone - built on the Elstree Studios backlot.
Gate Guard: "You don't want to go in there, Sir"
Peter Firth: "I know I don't"
Movie Scene - Screenshot - Nightshot.
There is a sign 'Embankment SW1'. A Set Decoration gimmick?
Should we believe that we are on the Victoria Embankment, London?
Well, we can see the Tower Bridge and some building lights through the fog over the River Thames.
How is that possible if we are on the Elstree backlot?
Contact Sheet enlargement photo showing the Elstree set with the Tower Bridge on the left.
Definitely not a matte painting.
Might be a scale model (forced-perspective) or a painted cutout shape.
There are some light effects (backlighting), nice reflections on the River Thames (Elstree pool), 
and lots of artificial fog.
Among the Extras on the excellent 'Arrow' blu-ray is an Audio Commentary with Tobe Hooper, 
moderated by a chap called Tim Sullivan. 
Just in the moment as Tobe wanted to tell us something about the Tower Bridge in this particular scene, 
this crazy jerk interrupts him roughly. What?
Oh no! 
Someone should write a book about Audio Commentaries and how bad they way too often really are.
When will these fools finally learn that an audio commentary should not tell us what we all see on the screen. 
They should make their homework and let us know details about what we do not see!
What are the secrets behind-the-scenes of each scene?
It might help to let the director or other people, which have been involved in the production, have a say.
Last modifications on the Embankment Set - Elstree Studio backlot, 1984.
Fine tuning with DOP Alan Hume ('Zeppelin', 'Return of the Jedi') and his First Unit camera operator Mike Frift.
Even the street lamps have a slight similarity to those at Victoria Embankment. Not bad!
A pretty challenging tracking shot, with the Tower Bridge model somewhere in the back, the lighting 
and all the fog at night.
The miniature background elements of the shot. The Tower Bridge and some buildings.
London looks a bit two-dimensional. 
The water (Elstree tank - River Thames), the light effects (London is burning) and the fog, 
all pretty atmospheric and cool!
And through the clever use of backlighting & fog, the large trees at the Elstree pool became invisible.
Painted cutout shapes or a real three-dimensional model miniature?
A cutout model of the Tower Bridge would be more than adequate for this scene.
The building on the right seems to be a 'front model' (more depth), built to be filmed only from the front.
Well, it is a night shot, next to a well-chosen camera angle the illumination is the key to the scene.
The finished movie scene is stunning,  the whole composition looks fairly believable.
The groovy sequence artful combines live-action and an actual set with painted cutout models (backdrop).
The Elstree Tower Bridge is a lot more convincing than the model miniature they filmed in the 'Tucktonia' 
theme park (model village) for the Helicopter flight sequence.
The Tower Bridge in the Elstree pool - 'Lifeforce' 1984.
Think it is a painted cutout model (wood/aluminium sheet?) and not a three-dimensional model miniature.
The well-made illumination gives the model a certain depth which makes the scene quite effective!
A tremendous effort for such a short scene.
Maquette of the 'Thurlstone Hospital' Set - 'Lifeforce', 1984.
What is the story behind of it?
This and so much more ...for example the huge 'London' Set at Elstree ...coming soon on this channel!

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