5 Movies That Did Crazy Stuff In The Name Of Realism
There's something to be said for realism in movies and television. Even if the story takes place in a galaxy far, far away, creators want the audience to really, truly believe what they're seeing, right down to the minutest of details. And rightfully so, really -- there's a reason obviously empty coffee cups and fake license plates feel so jarring. Still, sometimes, the folks behind-the-scenes can get a little too carried away with keeping things authentic. For example ...
Swiss Army Man Recorded the Cast and Crew Farting
The touching story of a suicidal castaway played by Paul Dano and the flatulent corpse of Daniel Radcliffe he befriends, Swiss Army Man is a magical, fart-powered journey of salvation and self-discovery. And, no, fart-powered isn't an exaggeration: the movie is a full 125% ass-blasts and aerosolized turdy mists.
With so many gaseous emissions on display, the crew quickly became aware that the typical well of Hollywood toots simply wasn't going to be enough for their needs, both in quantity and quality. They didn't want to repeat themselves, after all, and most derri-air libraries didn't have the nuance and subtlety they were looking for. So the Swiss Army Man team made their own, far more intricate fart library -- complete with actual recordings of the cast and crew.
About halfway through the shoot, directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert made the announcement that, from then on, if anyone in the cast or on the crew needed to bake an air biscuit, they were to immediately find the sound guy and get that taint tickle on tape. A woman from the sound-mixing team was the first to volunteer, tearing one within ten minutes of the announcement. Paul Dano, on set and in between takes, simply reached up, grabbed the boom mic, and let one rip -- presumably way too close to Daniel Radcliffe's face, given that, like, half the movie is the former riding the latter like a sled. And it wasn't only external orchestrations: they used Sheinert's actual intestinal distress for the rumbling of Radcliffe's mostly dead stomach.
Surely, though, the movie stopped at the sounds, right? Wrong. Swiss Army Man also made a model of Harry Potter's asshole. Y'know, for accuracy. And also possibly because they knew that doing so would one day force Daniel Radcliffe to explain, on record, that "you have to get your dick and balls out of the way" when attempting such a feat.
Three Months of Research Went into the Helicopter Crash Scene in The Matrix
The Matrix, a film famous for its groundbreaking film tricks and CGI, spent an enormous amount of time, effort, and money researching types of glass and pyrotechnics to film its iconic, inside-of-a-computer-simulation helicopter crash -- instead of just, y'know, simulating it.
The Wachowskis were apparently big fans of the whole "concentric circles radiating from the crash" thing, and had included the visual as part of the earliest storyboards. The practical and VFX teams dug it, too, and subsequently spent three months of "heavy-duty research" trying to figure out how to do such a thing in the real world (or at least Hollywood). This naturally involved breaking a lot of glass and studying all the different breakage patterns, exploding a lot of explosives to measure fireballs, and figuring out all the physics of hurling a chopper into an office building, like something out of Mythbusters.
Once the effects teams had the specifics figured out, they built an enormous wall out of all that glass -- so big, it could literally only be lit by the sun -- and swung an exploding helicopter model into it. All to get a crash so pretty and mind-bendingly perfect that audiences mostly just assumed it was CGI anyway.
Multiple People Had Sex With Peaches for (and Because of) Call Me By Your Name
In the prestigious, important, critically-acclaimed, Academy Award-winning Call Me By Your Name, the main character, an awkward teenager coming to terms with his sexuality, bangs a peach. But, like, not in an American Pie way -- this was art, God damn it.
Anyway, when it came time to film the produce-penetrating moment, the director, Luca Guadagnino, had some technical questions regarding the efficacy of doing so. So, naturally, he grabbed a peach and made sweet love to the stone fruit for real. Buoyed by this discovery, Guadagnino rushed to actor Timothee Chalamet -- the guy scheduled to masturbate himself with the fruit on camera -- to, presumably, explain the specifics. Or maybe just to brag? Either way, Chalamet told the director not to sweat it, for he too had successfully romanced a peach and now knew that peach-diddling was a thing that could successfully be done. So then they filmed him screwing another peach for the movie.
That might seem like the end of this particular tale, but it turns out the fruit-boning didn't stop there. A reporter for Vice -- entirely out of journalist integrity, I'm sure -- needed to know if it was, in fact, possible to actually plow a peach outside of Italy. And, well, spoiler alert: it totally was, and, apparently, "it's pretty amazing." So now that's a thing you know.
Game of Thrones Claimed a World Record for Setting People on Fire
Remember HBO's Game of Thrones? That show that was a beloved worldwide phenomenon until it crapped the bed so thoroughly and horribly that we all just burned the sheets and mattress and tried to forget it ever happened? Well, it turns out they managed to fit a world record in there, too -- and not just for the most incongruous product placement in history.
In this fantasy show famous for dragons and ice zombies, the production decided that, for a scene where one of those dragons sets a large number of human people on fire, the easiest thing to do was actually set a large number of human people on fire. 73 human people to be specific.
So why attempt a mass arson murder when teams of VFX nerds were right there, itching to work out some digital aggression? Because, even this far into the future, there are some things computers can't do -- in this case, showcase each individual burn victim's agonized death throes. You see, every death was performed differently -- more than two whole Baskin Robbins' worth of suffering -- because the stunt team wanted to make sure you understood that setting a person on fire was painful and bad. Although, let's be real, listening to them talk, it sounds like they were mostly reminding themselves.
For their efforts, the show set a world record for intentionally setting people on fire ... just not an official Guinness one, though, as the organization seems to frown on this kind of thing.
Return of the Jedi Created a Sandstorm So Real It Was Unusable
Following the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, rumors began to circulate of a sandstorm scene, set after the explosion of Jabba's barge in the Tatooine desert, cut for nebulous reasons. For most of the '80s and '90s, fans speculated about what it could be and whether we'd ever actually see the thing. Well, never fear fellow old people, because the scene has been found. And it turns out the long-lost sandstorm was lost for a reason: it was unwatchable -- and, nearly, unfilmable.
For reasons unknown, producer George Lucas and director Richard Marquand decided that, in a movie full of space-slug puppets and laser sword special effects, the easiest way to create a sandstorm was simply to make a real one. So they did, blowing ground-up cork at their actors with giant fans. Presumably because they didn't feel that Harrison Ford hated the Star Wars franchise enough yet.
The result was a browned-out mess: the actors couldn't see or hear one another, spending the whole scene screaming and squinting. Dialogue was entirely drowned out by what sounded like an army of leaf blowers. C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels kept wandering off set, unable to see through his metal facemask, only stopping because he recognized crew members through the dust. Then he tripped on a rock and fell over. Meanwhile, one of the cameramen missed his cue entirely due to the sound and forgot to start filming, meaning that all that acting and suffering was for nothing. (Eventually, the production tried again, sans sandstorm, after unanimously deciding that the scene was "too much.")
Eirik Gumeny is the author ofthe Exponential Apocalypse series. He has been both set on fire and caught in a sandstorm and he can vouch that neither is particularly fun. Follow him on Twitter.
Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures