by David Christopher Bell
Entertainment news is always going on about the highest paid actor or biggest grossing film – but does anyone actually find that stuff interesting? If you’re going to talk about records being broken they should at least involve a car flying through the air or something.
Anything that isn’t just about how much money was exchanged from one thing to another thing.
So in that interest, I did a little searching for movie records that I thought might be cool to hear about. In no particular order, here are some various bars that were set in the movie-making world.
Longest Car Jump On Film – Smokey and the Bandit II
I tried to watch Smokey and the Bandit II last night, but for some reason I ended up passing out from alcohol, which is weird because I wasn’t drinking. The reaction was purely osmotic. If you haven’t seen this thing – all you need to know is that Burt Reynolds makes an elephant cry. It’s basically Operation Dumbo Drop, but with trucks. How can you go wrong with that?
The jump in question, while not the longest in the world, is apparently the longest for a car powered by its own engine in a film at 163ft. Stunt driver Buddy Joe Hooker came out pretty okay in that he screwed up his spine but didn’t die. Mr. Hooker went on to continue kicking ass in cars, most recently doubling for Stuntman Mike in Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Thank god for the early 1980s when people would just drive cars off of things. Back then, every film felt like warm, dusty shag carpet… a wistful comfort wrapped in sweet, sweet wood paneling. Oh, also – fun fact: Sally Field is hot.
Biggest Explosion That Featured Actors – Transformers 2
Did you doubt, for even a second, that this wasn’t going to be a Michael Bay film? Perhaps if we were just talking about explosions in general, but this is the biggest explosion featuring actors. Who else would be reckless enough to set that record but the guy whose crew will actually have pneumatic car launchers on standby – you know – just in case.
The record-breaking explosion, as explained in the making-of video, involved 600 gallons of gasoline detonated sequentially to create a 300 ft tall fireball as our two leading actors ran from the scene.
Probably the best part of this video is that for some reason they let Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox explain the technicalities of the situation – occasionally cutting in special effects supervisor John Frazier to confirm that they have their facts straight. It’s as if the producers felt that no one would care unless they got to see Megan Fox drop a few F-bombs first. Personally speaking, I kind of see their point.
Largest Number Of Extras – Gandhi
CGI? Nah. This is 1981, son. They used people for that shit. 300,000 of them to be exact, mostly unpaid too. It’s a pretty good sign that someone was beloved in their time when 200,000 people volunteer to recreate their funeral 33 years after the fact. During the event, 11 different units shot collectively around 4 hours of footage that ultimately took up 2 minutes of this 3 hour long film. So basically 99% of the people in this film make up 1% of the running time.
It’s not hard to see why this movie won Best Picture that year, that is, unless you are director Richard Attenborough, who apparently thinks that E.T. was totally robbed. In an interview with BBC Radio Five Live, Attenborough commented that Gandhi, being a film “about a wonderful man” isn’t much of anything in terms of being a piece of cinema. Basically – that shit wrote itself, while E.T. “depended absolutely on the concept of cinema.”
I get his point… but still – who is going to give the award to a monosyllabic candy-pushing turd alien over one of the greatest proponents for peace on earth? Sure, E.T. was great… but come on, Hammond – show a little pride in your work.
Largest Number Of Takes For A Single Scene – Dragon Lord
There’s a lot of people online who will tell you that the scene in question is the pyramid fight. Even Wikipedia has that down. Truth is that the scene in this film that holds the record for most takes for a single scene is actually the Jianzi match. The number? 2,900 takes for one ten-minute scene. While that sounds like fantasy, it makes perfect sense if you actually watch the scene. You see, hippies, Jianzi is an Asian sport that roughly translates to “we’re better at hacky sack than you” in English.
Basically you kick around something hilariously called a shuttlecock in the style of a volleyball game. You can use every part of your body, save for you hands, and the object of the game is to pretty much not drop the thing. In the film, however, they treat it more like soccer – using two nets and goalies and all that. It’s way more badass that way, and makes for a scene that looks damn near impossible. Of course – it was damn near impossible, which is why it took nearly 3,000 freaking takes to do.
Now that Jackie Chan has gotten a little older, I’d really like to see a film where he keeps getting ambushed by ninjas and then they all work it out using their words. I think that’s something we can all get behind.
Biggest Indoor Movie Set – Batman Begins
I’m actually not certain about this, so if anyone knows of a bigger set please say so in the comments.
So how big was it? Well, the entire set up took place at a 800ft long airship hangar located in Cardington which, according to Wikipedia, is a village in the Borough of Bedford in Bedfordshire, England – which is apparently a place that exists. The whole set was 160 feet high and took ten months to put together.
It was made up of three parts: the narrows of Gotham, which were basically the alleyways and seedy areas, the main drag of the city, and finally a 3-lane freeway running the entire length of the hangar. The whole thing was lit practically and had an entire underground system of cables and pipes that controlled the steam effects coming from the various manholes around the city. If it isn’t the largest set out there, it certainly has to be the most elaborate. It basically was Gotham city, all tucked neatly into one building.
Most Car Flips/Longest Speedboat Jump/Highest Bungee Jump – Various James Bond Films
Apparently the Bond people have a knack for world record stunts, such as the recent Casino Royale scene where 007 swerves off the road and into a series of rolls. Set off by a cannon within the stunt car, this wicked crash – performed by stuntman Adam Kirley – holds the record for most rolls done in this manner at a total of 7.
Aside from that, they also have highest bungee jump for when stuntman Wayne Michaels went 759ft off of the dam in Goldeneye, and also the longest speedboat jump for when Jerry Comeaux stood in for James Bond in Live and Let Die. The damn thing went 120ft.
Oddly enough the series also holds records for largest breakaway glass taken out by a cat at 257.36ft as well as first submersible sports car in The Spy Who Loved Me. They also hold the highest ski base jump on film record when Rick Sylvester when off a 2,000 ft cliff in The Spy Who Loved Me.
With all these records, it’s actually not hard to understand why Bond is able to hold on to them. After all, what other series is going to have this kind of wonderful bullshit?
Longest Single Un-Cut Shot – 21 Brothers
This is kind of awkward. You see – I was all ready to sit here and jibba jabba on about the film Russian Ark. I got it right there on my shelf and everything. I really enjoy the film and wanted to talk about it. Then these damn Canadians had to get in the way. You see – until this year, at around 90 minutes, Russian Ark held the world record for longest un-cut shot in a film. 21 Brothers has been clocked at 91 minutes, 8 seconds – making it the new record holder.
The reason this makes me so upset has nothing to do with the content of 21 Brothers and everything to do with the fact that I can’t, for the life of me, find a copy to watch. The closest I’ve found is freaking Canadian iTunes, which, if you have an American account, is useless. Useless! This is especially frustrating to me because I happen to have a bit of a nerd-fetish for tracking shots, and desperately want to see this thing. If anyone can point me in the right direction – that would be awesome.
Man, I’m supposed to be like, writing about this movie and making this entertaining but I really just want to see this film. It apparently takes place entirely in a WW1 bunker and follows Canada’s 21st battalion getting ready for the 1916 battle of Flers-Coucelette. I didn’t even know Canadians fought in the war, let alone made war movies. So this movie also holds the record for most things I’ve learned about Canada in a single sitting.
Longest Production Time For A Single Film – The Thief And The Cobbler
Richard Williams is a pretty determined guy. Around 1964 he decided to make an animated film based on the stories of Nasrudin. In 1994, his film – The Thief And The Cobbler – was released under Miramax. That’s right. Thirty goddamned years. Poor guy just couldn’t get this thing off the ground despite it having some of the most beautiful and intricate animation you’ll ever see. The problem, as you might have already suspected, was money. Money and time. Not to mention that the entire project was closer to art than entertainment – and you know how much kids love looking at art.
Most of the original voice cast was replaced for the release in order to give it a wider appeal. For some reason – that meant replacing Sean Connery with Matthew Broderick and Donald Pleasence with Eric Bogosian. Nothing against the two latters, but still – what was the point of that?
Anyway, it’s on the YouTube, so you should watch it – if only for the animation. Turn down the lights, put on some Strauss or something, and watch what 30 years of amazing talent will get you.
And other fun stuff
Related Topics: Batman