An Oral History of the Time Ridley Scott Burned Down Pinewood Studios

During the shooting of Ridley Scott's 'Legend,' the famous "James Bond Set" at Pinewood Studios caught fire.
Legend Ridley Scott Pinewood Fire Darkness

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video about the time Ridley Scott set fire to the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios while shooting Legend.

Ok, so Ridley Scott didn’t burn down all of Pinewood Studios. It’s not as bad as that.

I won’t spoil the details because hearing Scott recount the story himself—in a tone that I think qualifies as “chaotically calm”—is a unique delight. Anything that starts with the phrase “the day the set burned down…” deserves to be experienced first hand. Suffice to say: it involves pigeons, polystyrene, and a lot of gas.

The event in question took place on the forest set of Legend, which was built on Pinewood’s famously enormous 007 Stage. In Scott’s 1985 high-fantasy epic, the devil (Tim Curry) attempts to shroud the world in eternal darkness by killing the last unicorns. Our two leads, Jack (Tom Cruise) and Lili (Mia Sara), must thwart his plan to save their woodland paradise.

Like everything else in the film, Legend‘s forest set is the definition of extravagant. Pollen wafts through the trees like a flock of birds, woodland animals abound, and the density of the underbrush underlines the film’s mythical overtones. All told: the forest is a textbook example of Scott doing what he does best: going big or going home.

Unfortunately, there are risks to going this hard on set-design. Namely: fire hazards. The video clips below tell two stories of the film’s production. The first unpacks the technical wizardry of Rob Bottin‘s special effects makeup for Curry. And the second concerns the… fiery… event in question.

Watch the special feature chapters “Shadows of Darkness” and “A Dark Day” (cut to 00:08:35 for the story about Pinewood):

Who made this?

As the proud owner of a VHS tape of Legend, I cannot confirm which edition of the film these special features originate from. That said, gun to my head, I’d put money on this being from 2002’s “Ultimate” edition, which was full of documentaries, interviews, and other extra features.

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Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.