There’s nothing more inspiring and entertaining than a perfectly executed practical effect or stunt in a film. Actually, filmmaking is the only art form that goes way beyond the realm of human possibilities and laws of physics when it comes to performing extremely hard to shoot scenes and making the impossible possible.
Plus, the big Hollywood studios already successfully proved to the world that when you’ve got the money, commitment, dedication and the right crew virtually nothing can stop you from achieving even the craziest stunts a human being can think of. Some time ago we’ve covered the insane stunt of Tom Cruise hanging outside on a military plane, and now here’s another compilation of 9 more movie scenes that were incredibly difficult to capture.
The above video definitely puts things into perspective in those terms, especially when you consider how many countless hours, money and effort were involved in the preparation of these scenes. For instance, to put together the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg outfitted 1,500+ extras, including 1000 Irish soldiers to shoot the scene that lasts around 30 minutes on-screen.
Entire days were spent in preparation before the camera started rolling. Needless to say, that even today there are not many productions that can afford to spend so much money on a single sequence, but that’s why Saving Private Ryan is seen by many as the most realistic recreation of the war even seen on film, and for a good reason.
Another great example is the dangerous-looking aerial transfer performed thousands of feet above the ground in the Cliffhanger. At first, the studio refused to pay for such risky stunt, that also took months of preparations and calculations before can be executed in front of the camera.
The stuntman Simon Crane himself received a quarter million dollars for his performance and also earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the most expensive stunt ever performed by the time.
In a similar manner, the Redbull Skydiving team spent a week jumping continuously without goggles, wearing parachutes hidden under their costumes that still can be spotted in a few shots in the Iron Man’s scene where the hero successfully rescues a dozen free-falling Air Force One passengers.
Again, most parts of the scene were shot in-camera. I’m sure you can recall at least a dozen other scenes where practical effects were used instead of utilizing a green screen and complex CGI.
But these ambitious scenes aren’t related to only complex acrobatics up in the air, but they also can take place on the ground as well. Another example is the nightclub scene in Tarantino’s Kill Bill where the camera literally flew around, over, and through the set. We can only imagine the resources involved in this scene with so many wide angles and precisely timed moments.
According to video, it took the crew over six hours of rehearsals before the principal photography commenced and the only two-minute long take can be wrapped up. No wonder that after the seventeenth take the veteran Steadicam operator Larry MacConkey collapsed from exhaustion.
Overall, all of the above scenes prove the statement that when a director, a producer and a crew are committed to realism, or there’s simply no way to fake a shot, there’s no limit they’ll go to until the job is done, even if that means to spend months of preparation and millions of cash just on a single take.