vendredi 15 mai 2009


Because there is very few people reading this blog, this one is nearly abandoned - of course, there is already a great number of interesting sites in english language like I said in the introduction. So, because it seems to be not very useful for readers, most of subjects of the main site are not translated now; I apologize for this if you come here. If you understand a bit french language, you can go on the main site and you are welcome :
Among the latest entries, Charles DARWIN's birthday and a talk about evolution, tributes to the illustrator Edd CARTIER, the S-F writers Philip José FARMER and Stanley WEINBAUM, Ray HARRYHAUSEN's producer Charles SCHNEER, a review of great makeup artists threw away by CGI like Patrick TATOPOULOS and Rob BOTTIN, the cinematographer Jack CARDIFF, the marvellous composer Jerry GOLDSMITH, etc...

latest news of Carlo RAMBALDI !

For the youngest public knowing fantastic cinema only from Peter JACKSON's movies and from the new STAR WARS trilogy, the name of Carlo RAMBALDI is perhaps not very famous, but he was a master in his area some years ago , although a bit controversial.

Of italian origin, as his name lets to think, Carlo RAMBALDI began to work on national productions, someones fantastic, anddid some mechanical creatures. His most amazing work of this time is perhaps the mythical beings for the peplum PERSEO INVINCIBLO,a realistic dragon rather similar to some mesozoic Reptiles and the most original Gorgon ever seen on screen, rather close to the voracious extraterrestrial of DRAGON'S DOMAIN episode of SPACE 1999 serie.

His compatriot, the producer Dino de LAURENTIIS, hired him for the remake of KING KONG directed by John GUILLERMIN in 1976 . He made not only a giant hand and a mechanical head for close-ups, but also a full-scale version of the huge Gorilla. Unfortunely, this one didn't work very well and and is very barely seen in the movie, so, in the most of scenes, Kong is played by the makeup artist Rick BAKER in front of a blue screen to obtain than he seems taller. It must be said than same very big mechanisms are often difficult to make to move easily; the creator of JAWS' shark had to ask some help to Robert MATTEI, who did the giant squid of 20000 leagues under the sea, and even Stan WINSTON had to do several shots with JURASSIC PARK trilogy's Dinosaurs to obtain the movements required.

As a result of his fame, Carlo RAMBALDI was hired for international and american movies. So, he made the mechanical head with childlike eyes and moving neck of Steven SPIELBERG's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and the head with protractile tongue of Ridley SCOTT's ALIEN. After this came the slimy sexual entity of Andrew ZULAWSKI's POSSESSION, and his most famous creature, E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL. In 1984, after the misfortune of KING KONG, he could to show his ability to operate gigantic creatures, with David LYNCH's DUNE, produced by Dino de LAURENTIIS, and its huge space navigator and giant worms. Unfortunely, the movie doesn't make justice to his creations : there are few shots of giant worms in the film because David LYNCH would to avoid that DUNE could be seen as a "monster movie", and they are still covered of desert dust to integrate them with the decor.

It's a fact than Carlo RAMBALDI is not very well estimated by the other special effects makers because they are said less talentful than himself according to him , and the problems on KING KONG are always recalled by his collegues in spite of the successful effects of DUNE .

More, his werewolves for SILVER BULLET, rather disappointing but made exactly like de LAURENTIIS would, cannot to compete with the impressive ones done by Rob BOTTIN for THE HOWLING and Rick BAKER for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. So, the name of Carlo RAMBALDI, who made also for the producer Dino de LAURENTIIS the humanoid monster of CONAN THE DESTROYER and the Troll of CAT'S EYE from a Stephen KING's story, disappeared of the screens after KING KONG 2, a sequel still produced by Dino de LAURENTIIS with very well done giant Gorillas - even if, this time, Carlo RAMBALDI used very more often players with make-up than mechanical full-scale models.

However, Carlo RAMBALDI rises again in Italia in 2007, on the theatrical adaptation of Dante ALIEGHERI's DIVINE COMEDY, conceptualizing some fantastic characters, created by Sergio STIVALETTI, a well-known italian make-up artist, who had done special effects on THE CHURCH, including a Devil incarnation inspired by the fantastic and erotic Boris VALLEJO's paintings. On a music created by the famous Enio MORRICONE ( composer of a lot of italian westerns, of MISSION, WOLF, MISSION TO MARS, THE THING with John CARPENTER, etc.. ), this opera about the Inferno let to see some evil creatures and a Griffin. So, this opera gives opportunity for a little Carlo RAMBALDI tribute and to recall than he is a living legend.

vendredi 9 janvier 2009


After the disappearance of Stan WINSTON, creator of dinosaurs special effects for the trilogy, it's now the JURASSIC PARK serie's author, Michael CRICHTON, 66 years old, who vanishes because cancer. Even if he had no really created some fictionnal beings - except the infectant crystal-like molecule of ANDROMEDA STAIN, he marvelously brought back to life the lost giants in his famous novels.

Very big by his size, more than two meters high, Michael CRICHTON knew high success and he could even to direct himself some movies, that is rather rare - although without link with the filmaker Charles CRICHTON ( A FISH CALLED WANDA, a SPACE 1999 translation to movie theater... ). Although his success, Michael CRICHTON had a time without be able to write anymore and his private life was rather complicated, with five marriages.

Unlike a lot of older science-fiction writers recently dead, as Alfred Elton VAN VOGT, Arthur C. CLARKE and the genious Stanislas LEM, Michael CRICHTON was more a main stream writer than a typical science-fiction author : he created the serie ER, from his experience as graduate and treated with the same curiosity the most various subjects, like a real famous hold-up with his movie THE GREAT ATTACK OF THE GOLDEN TRAIN staring Sean CONNERY

Because of his strong interest in science, a lot of his works have a link with science-fiction. It's the case of his movie THE TERMINAL MAN ( 1972 ) about computerized neurological treatment, of ANDROMEDA STAIN ( 1969 ) dealing of contamination caused by an extraterrrestrial cristal-like virus and same for COMA ( 1977 ), all of them spoking of medical ethics. In this latest, a disturbing movie, a doctor discovers than the hospital sells organs from some patients, tin order to have rather money to be able to sustain research. The director played by the frightening Richard WIDMARK says than few lifes sacrified are not a too high price for progress and the medicine, a "great social strength".

french cover for ANDROMEDA STRAIN novel

If the LOOKER's direction is a bit lacklustre, this movie anticipated in 1981 the question of the rights of models seen in publicity, because a lot of them are now at least a bit computerized. An esthetic surgeon played by Albert FINNEY tries to understand the reason of the cause of several patients deaths, murdered by a television mogul, John RESTON ( James COBURN ), who replaced them by a virtual double; this can seem rather illogical, because he could just buy their image rights. The movie ended on a funny struggle indeed subliminal publicity studios.

RUNAWAY ( 1984 ) is an intense movie staring Tom SELLECK ( the famous MAGNUM's interpreter ) about domestic robots gone awful because they are programmed to kill by a terrorist. His novel PREY deals of frightening nanotechnological molecular robots able to duplicate themself - even if the theme was treated a first time by Greg BEAR with BLOOD MUSIC ( and after by NEW OUTER LIMITS's New breed episode ).

His novel SPHERE, adapted to screen by Barry LEVINSON ( YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES ), made allusion to extraterrestrials, because the unknown artefact is just a way to put off the fears of the adventurers, as SOLARIS'organic ocean; as opposite to the more plus subtil end of CRICHTON's novel , the climax of the movie seems to be rather naive, because, unlike the final miracle of TARKOVSKI's STALKER, with psychokinesis caused by supra human power too , after a deep mystical atmospher, it comes a little like a pun.

JURASSIC PARK ( 1990 ) - and the sequel LE MONDE PERDU ( 1995 ) - to pay hommage to Conan DOYLE - is of course his most famous novel, based on a simple and genious idea both, the ability to clone Dinosaurs from some blood samples of Mosquitoes kept in amber - but the special effects creator Jim DANFORTH said to have a rather similar idea for a comedy some years before. The novel details the marvellous enthousiasm for the fabulous project to give life to Dinosaurs, and contains some terrific scenes when things go to rampage, like Compsognathus attack ( opening sequence of LOST WORLD movie ), the Pteranodons ( seen in JURASSIC PARK 3, less frightening on screen because virtual ones only are showed ) and the very creepy and cruel game of a young Tyrannosaurus with a character before to devor him during a terrible moon light night - these one not seen on theaters ). In spite of some differences, like the courageous advocate became on screen a coward, the inversion of roles of the two children, or the first visit in Jurassic Park without any problems unlike in the film, the adaptation by SPIELBERG is rather faithful at the spirit of the novel, with Richard ATTENBOROUGH played with enthousiasm the man doing his dream child becoming real.

The writer, not without hesitation, brought back in his sequel THE LOST WORLD the mathematician expert Ian Malcolm, herault of chaos theory, dead at the end of JURASSIC PARK novel, unlike the movie by Steven SPIELBERG. Because of therenewed interest for dinosaurs by Michael CRICHTON, it was given to a new Dinosaur a name from the writer's, Crichtonosaurus.

A little scale model of Tyrannosaurus made by Stan Winston team

The JURASSIC PARK synopsis is rather similar to the WESTWORLD's one, wrote and directed in 1973 by Michael CRICHTON, talking about androids of a park, including a terrific cow-boy played by Yul BRYNNER, suddenly run amock and kill really the visitors. The first part deals with irony of this false universe and its childlike tourists; the second one goes to terror with the frightening chase of people by the robots that can be stopped. The movie is built of a classic and very efficient manner, as a perfect mechanisme like the androids. Arnold SCHWARZENZEGGER said to take inspiration of the frightful Yul BRYNNER. The producers gave a sequel, FUTUREWORLD, the park being use to replace politicians by perfect copys to serve their dishonest interests.

Sometimes, CRICHTON took politically incorrect positions, like with HARASSMENT ( 1994 ), seen as anti-feminist because he shows than women are able too to abuse of professionnal power - he was considered one time as xenophobic too with RISING SUN dealing of the conquest of american economy by japonese interests ( Terry GILLIAM gave to us some oniric scenes on this theme in his movie BRAZIL ). In URGENCE STATE ( 2004 ), he imagines the story of some eco-terrorists - like the ones showed in the very good telefilm of Edward ZWICK SPECIAL BULLETIN staring David CLENNON (THE THING ); this novel deals of bad effects of ecology when it turnts into ideology - it's true that some ecological products a little too fast said as safe are in really very dangerous - but he has probably less power to convict us when he minimises global warming*, extinction of species and risks from DDT,whereas his own death is a new illustration of the rising cases of cancer - even his warning than we must examine facts before to elaborate some conclusion is stil available.

( *a very recent work shows than the mountain vegetation was 65 meters higher in 1993 than in 1971 because warming, and mountain glaciers disappeared everywhere, from White Mount to Everest and Kilimanjaro )

( NB : this text was put for the first time in french the 6 th november 2008 )