Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Universe Is Used Goods

bink used to make wigs for movies, and once when she was out in LA, she met a woman working on Star Wars who told her how they took old car dashboards and other junk parts, turned them around, spray-painted them, and used them for the insides of spaceships.

I just started reading Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars & Alien (2016), a memoir by Roger Christian, set decorator, and he talks all about that.
Some of it was because the first Star Wars has such a tiny budget---less than $8 million. But also, he, designer John Barry, and creator George Lucas wanted the universe to look worn, grease stained, used, not like most sci-fi of the time that always looked ridiculously new and spotless.
Christian came up with the idea of dressing the Star Wars sets with used parts from airplanes and junk yards.

I'd written a while ago about how The Nice Guys, a movie set in the 1970s, looked fake & wrong, thought the sets were nicely set-dressed in cool 1970s stuff. I couldn't quite nail what was wrong, except that it was too blatantly seventies.

Mortmere pointed out to me that Starsky & Hutch sets look authentic because they contain a jumble of older stuff along with stuff from the 70s, when the show was made.
That's how we really live, with layers of time.

She sent this screencap as an example: the weird dog next to Starsky is a carnival prize*, probably already 20-30 years old when the show was shot:

*From Collector’s Weekly:
“Made out of plaster of Paris, chalkware was used to create inexpensive versions of decorative objects such as animal figurines—so many small figurines were given away as prizes at carnivals, the pieces became known as “carnival chalk.”
“The heyday of the material was the early 19th to mid-20th centuries…”


deanna said...

My sis-in-law, Tim, Tim's dad, and I watched a Star Trek special she had recorded, showing scientists at work on a cloaking device of sorts and other cool things. It's all rather micro-scale, but they're doing it!

Then, in honor of 9-11, I rewatched World Trade Center, with Nicholas Cage (the sort of based-on-real-life drama I enjoy when dealing with remembering major things like that), and, anyway, in the midst of the moments where two police officers, trapped beneath the collapsed towers waiting for rescue, are trying to keep each other talking and alive, one of them says, "Remember Starsky and Hutch? That show made me want to be a cop." (Or something to that effect.) I thought of you, and all your cool thoughts about human interactions with stories. :)

Fresca said...

Deanna: I may have seen that special---or one like it. Imagination shapes reality, for sure!

Speaking of which, that is some intersection between fiction and real-life, that Stasrky & Hutch conversation! Wow---thanks for telling me!