20 Set Photos That Will Change How You See These Films

From Godzilla to The Avengers, the road for a film from conception to the theater is often truly worthy of the term, ‘movie magic.’ Let’s take a peek behind the curtain, shall we?

1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting. He had to fall onto something. Regardless, seeing a ton of pillows and mattresses under Mark Hamill in this ridiculously iconic scene is something of a mind = blown effect.

2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Another behind the scenes shot from The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps the most incredible thing about this photo is how instantly and unreasonably adorable the AT-AT walkers become.

3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Here, George Lucas stands with the second Death Star. And pokes it.

4. Alien

Meet Bolaji Badejo, the man inside the suit of the original 1979 Alien. According to IMDB’s trivia section, he stands at 7’ 2”, and was not originally an actor, but a design student who was discovered at a bar. Ridley Scott wanted someone unusually tall so as to make the suspension of disbelief more natural, and Badejo fit the bill. Of note, is that this role seems to have been Badejo’s only real stint in the acting world, and there is little to no information about his life after Alien (save for rumor) to be found on the internet.

5. Ghostbusters

In case you’re like the little girl in Zombieland and are among the few that have not seen Ghostbusters, this is the infamous scene where Sigourney Weaver’s character gets dragged into the evil-dog-thing and possessed. And it scared the hell out of me as a kid.

And yet, I think the set photo might actually be the creepier one here.

6. Ghostbusters

Here, Stay Puft marches down the street in his man-sized, latex suit. It was apparently composed of two layers, with the outside bit flammable, and the inside bit fireproof. I don’t know why, but it never ceases to amaze me just how many old effects involved people in insanely awesome and expensive rubber suits.

7. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Harrison Ford and John Rhys-Davies carry the ark at what is probably the lightest it has ever been. There’s something incredibly charming about knowing such a classic movie magic technique was used on this film.

8. The Matrix

I remember watching featurettes on this around the time it came out, showcasing how they created the effects that were truly revolutionary for the time. See all those black circles spiraling around the green screen? Those are cameras, and the ‘bullet time’ effects in The Matrix were achieved by all of those firing at nearly the same time during key shots.

9. Godzilla

We all know that the original Godzilla movies were a bunch of folks in rubber costumes, but somehow that doesn’t make this photo any less incredible.

10. Braveheart

I can’t even begin to caption this.

11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Right, again with the people-in-the-suits thing. And yet it never stops being somewhat astonishing. As a kid, I never once thought about the fact that there were people in those suits - and that’s the kind of magic that classic films should achieve.

12. Jurassic Park

I still don’t think any film has topped the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park. Sure, the CG dinos in King Kong were well done, but there is something organic that’s lost when they’re just computer graphics. While the second shot here is likely part of the concept phase, rather than an actual filming piece, the third picture shows the actual, enormous T-Rex in all of its glory, and it’s a sight to behold.

13. Halloween

So, mindjelly time. The white mask that Michael Myers wears in the Halloween franchise? It was in fact a William Shatner Mask spray painted white. Apparently it was the cheapest mask they could find at the costume store, and it didn’t take much to make it one of the most iconic and terrifying masks of all time.

14. The Lord of the Rings

Here, Sir Ian McKellen stands with his two rather motley stunt doubles. It seems that Ian McKellen is not much of a horse person, and therefore every shot in the films with Gandalf riding a horse is actually a stunt double - presumably, one of these guys.

15. The Avengers

This shot surfaced recently in an effects featurette for The Daily. As films become more tech reliant, it’s rather boggling to see just how much they change from what is shot, to their final, theatrical release.

16. Inception

I could make a stupid pun about this photo incepting your brain or something, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you a half-remembered anecdote of how I think I read something somewhere about director Christopher Nolan keeping the technical secrets of Inception under very tight wraps before its release, as he was using rather unique, groundbreaking techniques in the film. Faulty memory aside, this shot calls to mind the classic ceiling dance by Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding. Rather than going full CG, it’s admirable to see Nolan use some practical effects in addition to the green screen.

17. Avatar

Avatar is one of those films that’s impressive as hell to watch, but you can tell it’s about 90% CG. Here, Zoë Saldaña snarls at the camera in her motion capture equipment. As always, it’s a delight to see just how goofy the motion capture outfits look.

18. Titanic

There was a bit of a misconception when the ‘kid pool’ photo first surfaced, that the climactic scene of Titanic was actually filmed in this tiny tub. While amusing, these inflatable pools were in fact used to keep the actors warm in between takes. Instead, as the second picture shows, the scene was filmed in a rather larger pool.

19. Blade Runner

So, this one’s a little different. Here, Harrison Ford poses with costar Sean Young, taken with a polaroid on the set of Blade Runner.

Why is it here, you ask?

Because it’s Harrison Ford taking a myspace shot, that’s why.

Yes, I know - this is long before myspace was even a forlorn, duckfaced gleam in Tom’s eye. And yet. Dat face.

Still not convinced? I’ve (badly) shopped Sean Young out of the picture. Look again.

Harrison Ford. Myspace photo.

20. The MGM Lion Logo

Alright, so this one’s not actually for a specific film, and although I cannot find any specific information on it, it was likely for a magazine or some similar photo shoot.

Still, imagining that Alfred Hitchcock directed one of the MGM Lion logos?

Without any evidence to the contrary, I’m happy to think that was the case - because that thought is truly gold.

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