Movies of all genres require production teams that are ready to do almost anything to create realistic, quality props. Whether its double sided fake money, entire vehicles, or elaborate weapons, the creation of realistic film props calls for an unrivaled dedication to this unique craft. The fantasy genre has a particular responsibility to create otherworldly props on an earthbound budget. These two tales of fantasy prop creation perfectly demonstrate the lengths to which Hollywood must go to create the right fantasy worlds.
Lord of the Rings
The famous fantasy series based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien is known for how deep it delves in fantasy lore and the special effects the films used. Swordsmith Peter Lyon was an integral part in creating the props used by the actors that perfectly complimented the special effects. Peter Jackson, the director of the films, hired special effects specialist Richard Taylor to head the props and effects department. Taylor then invited Lyons to take on the swords for the films, as well as other craftsmen local to New Zealand to create authentic props.
In Lyon’s work, he used artists’ drawings to craft swords with such detail that they could reflect their individual history. Swords that were meant to have been through many battles were aged with chemicals to create pitted effects and then cleaned to create an appearance of old swords being well cared for. The elves’ swords were given a more elegant design with a slight curve to reflect their refined culture. The creature-like orcs were given swords that were crude and chunky. Of course, Lyon also created a specific sword for each main character that had to be light enough for actors to carry, but realistic enough for the film.
In Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood, Russell Crowe played the main character and needed the right props to look the part. While no double sided fake money was required, the hero-thief needed a full, costume that was appropriate for the medieval setting. It also had to be made so that Crowe could wear it for long hours of shooting and move around comfortably.
The first piece of costuming was a protective plate for his chest, made of leather and metal and engraved with a famous Robin Hood quote for added detail. Crowe also work custom-made brown leather pants from Academy costumes, an olive green woven cotton hooded tunic, leather knee-high lace-up boots, and ornate silver leafed shoulder armor. Altogether, this weight about 14 pounds, but it certainly made Crowe look the part.
Hollywood originated over 120 years ago, making it the oldest film industry in the world. The success of Hollywood has relied not just on the quality of its actors, but the authenticity of props like double sided fake money and medieval swords that were all solely designed for film. This dedication to movie props is what sets Hollywood apart from the rest of the world, and the industry has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.