Once More with Feeling

April 15, 2012

The lead in this movie can’t weigh more than eighty pounds, ninety max. He is about four feet high. Apparently, the person on whom the story is based was no giant but was petite, which made the mayhem he had caused even more incredible.

I watch with interest as two of the crew fit him up in a stout leather harness and buckle it up with a rather mean looking hook hanging down his back. Another guy, who I learn is the special effects expert, tapes several pieces of ordinary cardboard to Goliath’s bare chest and shoulders, delves into his box and places a minute blob of a putty-like substance on each of piece of carton. But, he’s not finished. He inserts short pieces of wire with brilliant red plastic ends into each daub of putty. He looks over his handiwork, checks the switches on the control panel he has with him and gives a thumbs up sign to the director’s assistant and moves, with his gear, away from the house.

The two men, who fitted Goliath with the harness, attach the hook to a cable that has been pulled out through the front door of the house. Once completed all three enter the house. The director is some distance away speaking on his mobile phone. Nothing will happen until he is available.

After my little tour de force, the crew and assistants seem more friendly and for whatever reason the director’s helper comes to stand beside me. I am now evidently persona grata. I take the opportunity to ask about next part of the story.

He explains that the director wants to try something different here.He will use one camera and for stark emphasis it will be black and white. Also the same sequence is to be shot several times on this camera to provide a continuous loop of the murderous fire power that chops our hero down. Further down the hill, the line of policemen with rifles are getting to their feet and facing uphill to the house. The little guy, Goliath, has been fitted up with explosive charges and linked, by cable, to a system of pulleys in the house. On cue, he will rush out as the policemen advance, firing his weapon wildly. Heavy fire will be returned by the riflemen, the power of which, through means of the pulley, will spectacularly ‘blow’ the hero off his feet.

I think this will be worth watching and get well behind the camera crew. The director is back on set and within minutes “Action” rings out.

Goliath trots through doorway brandishing his shotgun, rather girlishly I think. There are three or four ‘pfiffs’ and feathery wisps of smoke emanate from his shirt. He falls backward awkwardly to sit on his haunches and resembles a small oriental child sitting on a potty.

I’m almost deafened by the vehemence and rage in the bellowed “Cut”. The director screams at his assistant, who in turn screams at the star, who in turn looks blank. Three sheepish looking guys, the pulley operators I take it, come out of the house and stand abjectly in front of the director. He waits until the special effects man joins the three. The director takes a deep breath and then the lambasting begins. Apparently, the scene does not contain the impact and violence required. Everything has to be souped up.

I know it is not physically possible but the four being chastised seem to visibly shrink. They all hang their heads and do not look at the director who is choleric with fury. The victims are far from inscrutable but are very uncomfortable. The director’s phone rings; he dismisses them and walks off to answer it.

Out of sight of the director, far from being cowed, the guys are seething. There is hand waving and shouting among themselves. The three angry pulley men disappear into the house. The effects specialist, muttering to himself, replaces the explosive by the handful in great dobs on to the patches on Goliath’s body and the cable is hooked up by a pulley guy looking like thunder.

The director returns and the action starts. And how!

Goliath rushes out, unsteadily as if he has been pushed and almost falls over, but his shirt suddenly explodes and erupts in several places before disintegrating, each shred bursting into flame as it flies away. There is smoke everywhere and he jerks about like a rat shaken by a terrier but the force of the detonations hold him upright before he is hurtled violently backward, as if in a wind tunnel or a Kansas tornado, several feet above the ground, to slam with a nauseating thud into the door lintel. Incongruously, he hangs there, obviously unconscious, and immobile, except for an occasional twitch, in the doorway.

Totally ignoring him, the director calls for the pulley men and the special effects guy to congratulate them and give direction for the follow-on takes. The specialist is there first. The pulley men are called again and when Goliath crashes in a limp heap in the doorway everyone realizes that they are on their way. The director calls for Goliath to come forward but despite raising his voice to repeat the request,the star remains collapsed and it is soon clear, comatose. He remains in the same condition until the ambulance arrives at which time he was lifted by his arms and dragged, feet trailing to the vehicle. I heard later that the interior of the ambulance stank of cordite for days afterwards.



One Response to “Once More with Feeling”

  1. Perhaps they have decided to be inscrutable after all…?

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