As Nic Cage Shows, Real Guns Can Be Cheaper Than Prop Ones
A few months ago, on the set of the movie Rust, Alec Baldwin was holding a gun for a scene, and it went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. A lot of people question why the film used a real gun instead of a prop. Well, today, we are ... not going to answer that. It's still an open case, and we can't make conclusions. We can't even make the statement "Alec Baldwin fired the gun," because even that is still under legal dispute.
But we can tell you about another movie that used real weapons instead of props, and the situation was even stranger than Rust (though without any tragic result). We're talking about the 2005 Nicolas Cage film Lord of War, which sounds like the name of some terrible mobile game but is actually about the gun trade. The title comes from one character, a Liberian dictator who knows the correct term is "warlord" but thinks "lord of war" sounds cooler, but refers to Cage's character, who's based on real-life arms dealer Viktor Anatolyevich Bout.
The movie features a lot of shots of Cage in a transport plane. For authenticity, director Andrew Niccol found it most convenient to use an actual transport plane belonging to an actual Russian arms dealer operating out of West Africa. The movie features a bunch of tanks, and for these, Niccol found it most convenient to order actual tanks to the shooting location in the Czech Republic.
The tanks caused him a bit of trouble, since they showed up on satellite photos and spelled worry among authorities, who feared some kind of unannounced Czech war buildup. Niccol had to make a statement to NATO clarifying what was going down. When filming wrapped up, the dealer who'd lent him the tanks took them back. They had work to do, in Libya.
And Lord of War featured guns, a lot of guns. It needed some 3,000 AK-47s, and while the production could have commissioned props, it worked out cheaper to buy real ones ... since Niccol was able to sell them afterward, for just a small loss. One scene in the movie includes a loving monologue about the AK-47, set to music from Swan Lake. But don't think the film is pro-gun propaganda. Just the opposite: Its portrayal of the arms trade earned it the official endorsement of Amnesty International.
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Top image: Lionsgate