Blogger Q&A: Our 5 Favorite Movie Props
Great movie props are, as Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade once remarked about a little black bird statue, “the stuff that dreams are made of.” This week our bloggers reveal their favorite movie props, the things characters use, chase, wear, carry, or just show off. After you’ve seen ours, let us know which props make you say “I wish I had that.” And don’t forget to leave a question for a future Blogger Q&A!
The One Ring from The Lord of the Rings
I have to go with the pivotal Ring of Power from the best film trilogy of all time. While the basis for the design of the One Ring comes from Tolkien’s prose, it was brought to life brilliantly for the film series. It’s very fitting that the One Ring is a simple golden band, especially when you compare it to the other Rings of Power in the series which all seem very ornate and beautiful. Sauron’s deception and ability to play to the desires of the peoples of Middle-earth is all conceived through the design of the One Ring. Its ability to disguise the great and terrible power within it was a masterful move. Only through fire does the deeper truth of the One Ring’s power become revealed, playing on the symbolism of the destructive nature of fire and industry in the series. Its look fits in every scene in the trilogy, whether it needs to appear heavy and weighty like the burden it is, or light and mobile for scenes where the Ring is trying to escape. In fact, Peter Jackson‘s Weta Workshop made several different sizes of the One Ring for these different moments. No discussion of the Ring is complete without mentioning Howard Shore’s beautiful, ominous theme for it, which plays whenever it becomes the focus of a scene. Its importance in the trilogy cannot be overstated, and it remains one of the most iconic objects in cinema. — Connor Ryan Adamson
Arwen’s Evenstar from The Lord of the Rings
There are too many good props in these movies to have just one on the list! Arwen’s Evenstar is the gift she passes on to Aragorn to symbolize both her love and what she is willing to sacrifice in order to share a lifetime with him. It’s elegant, intricate, and otherworldly. It glows with an inner light and stands out against darkness, muck, and dirt. It looks romantic, which is perfect given that it is the token of the promise exchanged between these two. You see it with Aragorn through every step of his journey, a symbol of how Arwen shall always be with him. Its importance to both characters cannot be overestimated, and the beauty of its design perfectly exemplifies everything it represents. Impressively, it was an invention of Jackson’s prop team; in the books, Aragorn wears a green stone given to him by Galadriel. The Evenstar the only movie prop replica I’ve ever bought, and the fact that it looks nice with formalwear doesn’t hurt. — Naomi Laeuchli
The Kit-Cat Clock from Back to the Future
I’m not a huge Back to the Future fan. I find Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd too arch to find them as Marty McFly and Doc Brown funny for long, so most of my enjoyment of this saga is based on the set design, and arrives in fits and jolts. But my favorite of those jolts is in the film’s opening titles, which show all of these weird, interesting clocks that Doc Brown keeps in his garage. It nicely sets up the nature of the Doc’s experiment with time travel, and the set-up of the garage makes apparent Doc’s frayed sense of normalcy. If any of these clocks is most memorable, it’s the Kit-Cat Clock, with its smiling kitsch that betrays the movie’s ’50s nostalgia long before anyone hits 88 miles per hour. From these opening titles, and from similar moments in director Robert Zemeckis’s other movies, it’s clear that he had a handle on the small details that give his films their striking character. — Alex Christian Lovendahl
The battle standard from Seven Samurai
During my years in Japan, I collected several decorative banners and one enormous flag from a fishing boat, and all of them hang proudly on my small apartment wall here in Austin, Texas. If I could add just one more to the collection, I’d make it my favorite movie prop: the flag from my all-time favorite movie, Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai. It’s a vertical strip of cloth, the kind samurai armies often carried into battle, and the symbols written on it constitute a beautifully minimalistic summary of the film and of classical Japanese social theory. On the bottom is the character “ta,” short for tanbo, which means “field” and represents the village the samurai have agreed to defend from bandits. At the top of the banner are six circles representing the six genuine samurai in the story. They are all of equal social rank, and none can boast connections to powerful masters, so nothing distinguishes the circle representing the leader, Kambei, from the five other rōnin he recruited to his charitable cause. Between the six circles and the “ta” character is a lone triangle representing the drunken, thieving, belligerent, but defiantly proud Kikuchiyo, who was born a peasant but defies the rigid caste system to live as a samurai. As the flag suggests, Kikuchiyo occupies a social nether-region, not content to be part of the anonymous “ta,” but unable to attain membership in the samurai class he both envies and resents. The Seven Samurai battle standard is an impressive feat of Japanese design, as simple as it is profound. — David Conrad
John Hammond’s cane from Jurassic Park
For me, it has to be John Hammond’s cane from Jurassic Park. In the pantheon of canes, Hammond’s is second only to Chaplin’s Tramp’s, but this one means more to me. Its function as an extension of Hammond is as clear as it is simple. There atop the cane is the mosquito preserved in amber, the very basis for the entire Jurassic Park program. It isn’t a glorified paperweight on Hammond’s desk, though, or even worn as a pendant. It’s incorporated into his cane, a portable demonstration of his vision and power. It also serves a utilitarian purpose. That’s Hammond’s vision for the park: a fantastic idea that can serve a purpose for the entire world.
Plus, after eleven years of frequent steroids to treat Crohn’s, my hips and my backache often and I have to rely on a cane semi-regularly. It may be borderline heresy to use a revered prop, but I really would use it to get around from time to time! — Travis McClain