In some movies there are, quite simply, certain sets that just plain stand out. At given times, these single backdrops or interior shots can nearly eclipse the film itself. Some just blow past most viewers unnoticed while others are absolutely breathtaking. I’ll start out with one or two that are etched into my own memory. One is completely ancillary to the plot, yet adds ineffable charm and rusticity. Another is a dazzling tour de force of special effects. Both are superb.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves:[ul]While Snow White dances with the dwarves in their cottage, look carefully at the instruments being played in the background. Doc is strumming a sort of lute. Upon examination, the instrument is modeled upon a goose. From its head, a long neck carries the fretboard and strings, terminating at a bridge whereupon this bird’s feet clutches them.
Grumpy plays at an organ hewn from large logs and topped with a rank of almost totem pole-like pipes. Each of the ports on the pipes is hatched with various animals and what have you. As they occasionally stick open, Grumpy closes them with a roundhouse (almost Three Stooges style) slap.
While these elements may seem minor, I’m rather confident some set designers spent many hours making sure that all of the instruments carried forth a nature-evoking sort of theme. I’m equally positive that this small scene blows past a majority of audiences completely unnoticed. To me, it represents an attention to detail that merits applause in and of itself. To so thoroughly integrate the surrounding forest’s wildlife with an interior shot like that is a touch of genius.[/ul]
The Fifth Element:[ul]The exterior city shots of New York’s futuristic megalopolis are superb. The art pretty much outpaces the movie (most certainly Willis’ wooden acting). The commute locomotives scaling skyscraper walls and the layers of aerial traffic all lend a superb air of congestion and nearly chaotic overpopulation to the scene.
However good the exterior shots were, one interior sequence merited its own special effects Oscar. The DNA replicating machine that fabricated Leeloo’s body was simply some of the best analytical science fiction technology I’ve seen in donkey’s years. That one sequence lasted but a few minutes, yet managed to completely steal the show for me.[/ul]
Please list some of your own favorite scenes from movies where you felt there was extreme attention to detail paid by the designers.