Monday, June 16, 2008

Stan Winston

The thing about watching a movie is that you have to believe what is happening on screen. Film is a collaborative medium and everyone has a hand in this from the director to the P.A.’s – if one part is off it doesn’t work.

They importance of make-up and effects has been part of the filmmaking process since Dr. Calagari opened his cabinet. Through the years technology upped the ante for what a filmmaker can pull off in a film. Miniatures, rear screen projection, pyrotechnics, break-away walls, and puppets…Moses parted the Red Sea, Jason fought an army of skeletons, a cyborg could fight an apocalyptic war against mankind.

Then computers came on the scene and suddenly everything changed again. A terminator could be made of liquid metal; Harry Potter could mount a flying broom and play quidditch. However, in the midst of all this there was a call to scale back the computers, and keep the illusions in film “Real”.

In the midst of all this Stan Winston never wavered. Before the computers came, and right until the day he died he never wavered. Stan Winston was the great. He was this generations Ray Harryhausen. His effects were so great that they ceased to become illusions – they were real. He made the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the aliens in Alien, the T-100 in Terminator. He broke the boundaries of where physical effects could go. In a day and age where it’s cheaper and easier to use a computer he made the real magic happen.

The last Winston film I saw was Iron Man. Most of the effects in that film were practical, Favreau insisted on it and Winston made it happen and he made is seamless.

Stan Winston was a legend while he lived, and he becomes an immortal great in his death. He will be missed.

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