10 Great Movie Sets That Were Built From Scratch
Through ever-changing growth green screen and CGI technology, movies have the ability to take place almost anywhere. From historic times to distant planets, almost anything is possible when it comes to filming locations.
While this technology has its benefits, filmmakers were previously forced to create their locations from scratch for years, and many continue to do so to this day. Here are some of the best examples of exotic and extravagant sets built just for the production of a movie.
“The Abyss” (1989)
In by James Cameron underrated sci-fi epic, engineers and estranged married couple Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and bud (Ed Harris) are enlisted to investigate an unidentified underwater object. Operating from the “Deep Core”, an underwater platform designed by Lindsey, they soon discover there is more to the mystery than they could ever imagine.
Known for his obsession with all things aquatic, it’s no surprise Cameron had a massive freshwater tank built for him. the abyss, where most of the film was shot underwater. The reservoir was 55 feet deep and held over 7 million gallons of water, which at the time was the largest of its kind.
‘Crimson Peak’ (2015)
At Gullermo del Toro’s gothic romance follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an up-and-coming American author who fell in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). However, when she arrives at her secluded mansion outside of England, she quickly becomes suspicious of Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). With the help of ghostly premonitions, she must uncover the mysteries of the Sharpes and their haunting home before it’s too late.
A somewhat polarizing entry in del Toro’s filmography, most moviegoers agree that Crimson Peak is a wonderful film. Much of that reputation is due to the massive early 20th century mansion built with immaculate attention to detail. Del Toro felt the mansion should reflect the macabre nature of the story. From the sprawling hallways to the imposing lobby, there remains an eerily looming presence felt throughout the film.
Cleopatra is the epic of a queen (Elizabeth Taylor) attempting to preserve the legacy of the Egyptian empire. Unfortunately, she finds herself caught between Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and Marc Antoine (Richard Burton) along the way.
Notorious for its myriad production issues, the film was still a hit, although it initially lost money due to its huge budget for the time. Much of this is due to the extremely elaborate set design, including a sequence where Cleopatra ascends into the Roman Forum on a throne embedded in a Sphinx statue. It remains a jaw-dropping spectacle to this day, a colossal symbol of Hollywood’s glorious excess.
‘Water World’ (1995)
After the polar ice caps melt, the Earth becomes almost entirely submerged in water. One of the few remaining humans, The Mariner (Kevin Costner), stumbles upon a young girl who may be the key to finding dry land. The sailor must defend her when a ruthless gang of pirates learns of her existence.
Manufacturing for water world was notoriously riddled with issues, including several sets being destroyed mid-production. The sets that made it into the film, however, were spectacular. The most notable of these is the Atoll, a huge floating city with working gates and mechanisms built off the coast of Hawaii. Although the film itself is a bit of a mixed bag, watching this amazing set monster in action is well worth it.
‘Red Mill!’ (2001)
Young poet Christian (Ewan McGregor) went to Paris in 1899 to start a bohemian life. However, his world changes when he meets Satine (Nicole Kidman), a singer who takes him for the duke (Richard Roxburgh), in a bustling theater known as the Moulin Rouge. When the Duke finds out, he is furious and Satine and Christian’s love affair becomes complicated.
by Baz Luhrmann The explosive Bollywood-inspired musical isn’t for everyone and can only be described as the epitome of “sensory overload.” This is reflected in the sumptuous and garish scenography. A pivotal moment involves a duo atop a statue of an elephant built to scale. Of course, that’s not all, because the elephant comes with a heart-shaped piece in the center.
In the depths of space, a ship’s crew is awakened from cryogenic sleep to investigate an alien vessel. On the ship, they discover some bizarre alien technology, but they soon learn that the darker discovery has boarded their ship, now living among them.
by Ridley Scott game-changing sci-fi horror masterpiece has given us some of the genre’s most iconic imagery. The starkest example, of course, is the terrifying Xenomorph, but a close second is a bizarre alien relic, dubbed a “space jockey.” The mysteries behind this haunting lifeless mass would not be fully explored until Scott Prometheus and Alien: Pact decades later, but HR GigerNevertheless, the design of has buried itself in the minds of thousands of fans for decades.
In a futuristic utopia, a young boy finds a part of town below the rest, where workers have been forced to live in inhumane ways. When he enlists the help of a teacher, his father, an authority figure, soon discovers his plan to free the workers, creating a greater social divide.
by Fritz Lang The groundbreaking silent sci-fi epic is considered one of the greatest of its time. He is best known for his elaborate sets, constructed mostly in the form of miniatures. A complex technique using mirrors was used to make the sets appear as if they were on an equal scale with the actors. The hard work paid off, creating one of cinema’s most iconic sci-fi cityscapes.
‘Rear Window’ (1954)
Photographer Jeff (James Stuart) finds himself in a wheelchair and stuck in his apartment after an accident. He watches through his window the many inhabitants going about their business to pass the time. However, his new hobby takes a dark turn when he witnesses what appears to be a murder.
by Alfred Hitchcock beloved thriller may have been set in just one location, but the master of suspense was no less meticulous than usual when crafting the film’s detailed set. The entire neighborhood was built from scratch into a sound stage, containing 31 individual apartments, each with a unique design. The giant replica had so many moving parts you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a real quarter.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)
When evil emerges and threatens to destroy all that is good, young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is forced to embark on a perilous journey to stop him. With the help of a community of warriors, he must travel to Mount Doom to destroy a mystical ring, ending the mighty Lord Sauron and his reign of terror.
peter jackson blew the world away with its lived-in version of Middle-earth, pulled straight from the pages of JRR Tolkienit is beloved trilogy. Fans knew they were in good hands when they first saw the meticulously detailed set of Frodo’s house, Hobbiton, complete with “Hobbit holes” built into the hills of the beautiful neo countryside. zeelandic. Few fantasy films have created a more iconic introduction to a world than Howard ShoreThe delightful score plays over long shots of this beautifully designed city.
After his parents are killed in an alley by a local criminal, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) swears to protect his hometown of Gotham as a masked vigilante known as Batman. Years later, a new criminal called the Joker (Jack Nicholson) arrives on the scene, putting Gotham City in danger like he’s never seen.
by Tim Burton Batman exploded into the mainstream, creating millions of new Batman fans. It certainly helped that his take on Gotham was bold and creative. An entire section of the city was built on land just for the film, inspired by a mix of Art Deco and French Gothic styles. The look was both vintage and timeless and would continue to inform the beloved aesthetic. Batman: The Animated Series.
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