Top 10 Movie Sets Ever Built


>>CineFix Host: Before lights,
camera, and action, you have to start with the location. These are the top 10
movie sets ever built.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: Kicking us off at
number 10, things always seem to get crazy when Hollywood decides to
throw water into the picture. And for sets that might be hooks, 30,000 square foot Pirate Wharf or
Pirates of the Caribbean’s Port Royal or the Goonies Inferno, a beautiful
105 foot long underground ship. But for our number 10 it doesn’t get much
crazier than The Atoll from Waterworld.>>Waterworld Resident: We are safe,
behind this wall.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: Dennis Gasner’s massive
$22 million 1000 ton behemoth of a set a quarter mile around used up every single
bit of steel in the whole state of Hawaii. Most of the sequences were shot next to
the shore, rotating the atoll around, so that the camera was always
pointed out towards the ocean. But eventually, the towed the entire
thing out to sea to shoot the 360 shots. But with all the steel, and money, and
size, they forgot one thing, bathrooms. So they had had to stop shooting and bring
in a ferry every time anyone had to poop. Now Waterworld’s atoll was pretty big,
but it’s got nothing on our number nine, which could be rear window’s city block
that famously wasn’t tall enough for Hitchcock so they ripped out the floor and
built into the studio’s basement. Or the Last of the Mohicans,
Fort William Henry. It could even be the Matrix Reloaded’s
mile-long highway set. But for our number nine, we’ve gotta give it to Batman’s 4.1
million square foot Gotham City.>>The Joker: [LAUGH]
What are you laughing at? [LAUGH]
>>CineFix Host: That’s right, we said million. And you can thank designer Anton Furst for the unique architecture
of this entire world. Furst actually went out of
his way to make the city the ugliest metropolis imaginable. The set itself took up 18
whole sound stages and nearly all of the 95 acre
back lot at Pinewood Studios. Ultimately becoming the largest, most oppressive fake city
every committed to film. Of course Gotham doesn’t have
the monopoly on big city sets. Back in the golden age of Hollywood, a slew of historical epics led to
some sets of epic proportions. There was Intolerance’s Great Wall
of Babylon, a 300 foot tall colossus that cost
nearly 2.5 million in 1916 dollars, and the Pharaoh City from the 10
Commandments, a set that people thought was destroyed until archaeologists
dug it up in the California desert. There was Ben Hur’s chariot arena that
took a year to carve from stone, or even the fall of the Roman Empire’s forum, the largest outdoor set
ever built at the time. But if we’re given slots to the Roman
Forum, Cleopatra’s takes the cake.>>Marc Antony: Nothing like this has
come into Rome since Romulus and Remus.>>CineFix Host: Allegedly twice
the size of the original forum and even more expensive, they eventually
built the damned thing twice. Once in London, and then again in Rome,
after the first one got ruined and Elizabeth Taylor got sick from the cold. Unfortunately, Rome was
just as cold as London, and the whole production nearly
bankrupted 20th Century Fox. But at least we got this
awesome set out of it. Of course bigger isn’t always better. Size isn’t everything. It’s not the scale of the ship
it’s the motion of the ocean. Penis jokes, I’m making penis jokes. And just like penis’ sometimes the best
sets are the smallest ones, or at least that’s what we
like to tell ourselves. So for our number seven we
turn to beautiful miniatures. Like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts’,
the snow fortress from Inception, Manhattan from Escape from New York, any
of the miniature sets from King Kong, and especially some of the gorgeous world
building from The Lord of the Rings, including the still enormous
at 172nd scale, Ministeer. However for our pick we have to hand it
to the gorgeous futurist inspired city from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Estimated at 60,000 square feet at
miniature scale, Metropolis City is the originator, the innovator,
the OG futuristic city ever created. It had it all, planes, trains and automobiles along a highway crisscrossed
skyscape of epic proportions. They even placed live action extras
on the miniature set with nothing more than the clever use of mirrors,
carefully scraped into the exact size and shape of the set.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: And
keeping with out less is more mantra we’re stripping it down even further
to the sets that managed to be brilliant in their simplicity rather
than their scale or intricacy. So for our number six we wanna
give our pick to set minimalism. Because is the quality of a set really
determined by how big or bulky or even beautiful it is, or is it perhaps in how it helps
the film makers tell a good story? So for as far as minimal sets go we
first have to tip our caps to Buried in the entire film shot in a single wooden
Wooden coffin, which were actually seven different coffins with the variety of
different sizes and missing walls. But when it comes to minimalism,
nothing can possibly stand up to the beautiful simplicity of
Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, and the bare white painted outlines
that made up its town.>>Dogville Narrator: This is the sad
tale of the township of Dogville. The residents of Dogville were good,
honest folks, and they liked their township.>>CineFix Host: Lars has always
been a bit of a Maverick. So for Dogville he repurposed a Brechtian
technique more often found in black box theaters, simultaneously stripped away the
artifice while pointing a finger at it. With the distractions all gone,
all that was left was just humans and their emotions.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: Of course not all
sets exist in the physical world. So for our number five pick we’re diving
into the world of digital architecture. Sure the Hobbits Goblin Town was
filled with some less than impressive cartoon villains but
the set itself was wonderful. And what about the armory from Tron? Or Gladiator’s massive coliseum or practically every single
set from Sin City. There’s the home tree from Avatar,
the hot gates from 300 and the giant trash pile that was Earth for
Wall-E. All intricately crafted, designed, and
built with pixels instead of plywood. But for our number five pick, we have to
give it to none other than the massive digital creation of Bricksburg for
The Lego Movie.>>Lego Character: Good morning apartment. Ready to start the day.>>CineFix Host: Th entire film was built
from actual physically available Lego bricks by the 3D modelers at a massive
scale in Lego’s digital designer. Imported into Maya and
then textured lit, animated and render. And when we say built, we don’t mean
sketched in out of far away 3D cubes that they faked as Lego’s,
we mean brick by brick. And while we don’t think it’s quite fair
that these guys pretty much got paid to play with toys,
we love the worlds they created with them. For number four, let’s take a look at some
of the massive fantasy worlds production designers have been asked to create. Designers like John Berry and Dennis
Gassner created worlds like Tatooine and Spector, in places like Tunisia and Alabama where they still
eerily sit in disuse today. But if it’s an entire town you want, look no further than Grant Major’s
Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings.>>[MUSIC]
>>CineFix Host: After spotting the perfect shire-like location
from a helicopter, a nine month set build began at this former and
actually still current sheep farm. Landscaping, bridge building and
37 different Hobbit holes decorate this city of a set, and when they wanted
an extra oak tree they just chop one down, carted it in, and
decorated it with fake leaves. Today it’s a major tourist attraction, but back in 1999 it was a visionary example
of a fantasy world brought to life.>>CineFix Host: Counting down to
number three we wanna take a look at some of the crazy things happening
on the European side of the world. Hans Poelzig designed an entire lopsided
expressionist city in a Berlin studio for Dragalum, and
Sergei Ivanov set a crew of 400 to the task of recreating the Battle of
Stalingrad down to the smallest detail. But for our pick,
we’re going with the awesomely absurd and actually pretty creepy set of the yet
unreleased, Dau. The director, Ilya Khrzhanovskiy,
which is not easy to pronounce and most likely mispronounced right here,
created a beautiful recreation of 50’s Moscow, about two football
fields in size and five stories tall and populated it with an entire
city full of extras. All dressing, behaving and
talking exactly like their characters. Whether the cameras were rolling or
not, whether they were in the scene or not, whether they were even in the cast,
every day for three years. He would fine people who used unapproved
language, fire people who aggravated him, and used his power and money to seduce the
women around him, which probably makes him more of a megalomaniacal totalitarian
dictator than a film director. Dau is almost too weird to describe but
we have to give it some hesitant morally ambiguous props to the man who built an
entire fascist state for the sake of art. Closing in at number two,
rooms and buildings are nice, but what about the designers who have built
some honest to goodness god damn vehicles? There’s Pirates of
the Caribbean’s Black Pearl, and the full-scale Titanic that was
built on a 50-foot tilting platform. There’s Snowpiercer’s gorgeous
gimbal-mounted 100 meter replicate train, and The Empire Strikes
Back’s Millennium Falcon. But for our number two, there’s nothing more awesome than
the titular vessel from Apollo 13.>>Mission Control: Houston,
we are go for launch.>>CineFix Host: Hollywood has always used
a variety of tricks for weightlessness. CGI, green screens and
wire work are the name of the game. But Ron Howard wanted the real thing. Now, he couldn’t quite build a set in
space yet, but he did the next best fix. Designer Michael Corenblith built
the entirety of Apollo’s set inside NASA’s Vomit Comet, a real-deal
passenger plane that flew parabolic arcs to achieve zero gravity
25 seconds at a time. At two flights per day and 40 arcs per flight, the cast and
crew made 612 total zero-g dives. And, thanks to this set, spent nearly
four hours actually weightless.>>[SOUND]
>>CineFix Host: And finally securing our number one slot what
the hell can best actual zero gravity? Maybe it’s some of Chris Nolan’s
insanity like an entire hospital for the Dark Knight only to just blow it up,
or the massive hallway set of
Inception that actually spun. No these two just missed our list but
there’s one set that’s even crazier still, the deep core underwater
platform from The Abyss.>>Diver 1: Hey,
how deep’s the drop-off here?>>Diver 2: This here’s a bottomless pit,
baby. Two and a half miles.>>CineFix Host: Designer Leslie Dillion
and Director James Cameron built an honest to goodness diving platform in a seven
million gallon tank in an abandoned nuclear plant, filled it with water,
and shot the entire movie underneath. That’s right,
the entire movie was made between 30 and 50 feet underwater by
a 26 person diving crew. This set went through everything, leaks so big that dam builders had to repair them,
lightning strikes, algae infestations, chlorine burns, emotional breakdowns and
electrical blackouts. It was an absolutely insane endeavor, the
adventure of a lifetime and massive feat of engineering which is why we think,
it’s the best movie set ever built.>>[MUSIC]>>CineFix Host: So what do you think? Did we leave out one of
your favorite movie sets? Do you disagree with one of our choices? Got any ideas for our next list? Let us know on the comments below and
be sure to subscribe for more Cinefix Movie Lists.>>[MUSIC]

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