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Feature
The Genius Of Carlo Rambaldi
We look back at the special effects artist's best known creations

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King Kong (1976)

Italian impresario Dino De Laurentiis was a huge fan of Rambaldi’s work and sought the artist out to work on his US reboot of King Kong. Rambaldi was commissioned to design the title star and ended up building a 40-foot mechanical gorilla. The stats are mind-blowing: a 3.5 ton aluminum frame + 1,012 lbs of Argentinian horse tails (sewn individually into place) + 2 x 6ft across hands + two arms weighing 1,650 lbs each + 3,100 feet of hydraulic hose + 4,500 feet of electrical wiring + 20 operators = $1.7 million. The scale of the creature was dictated by the size of the hands — Jessica Lange had to sit comfortably in the palms — and it remains the largest mechanical creature ever created for a film.

King Kong director Dino De Laurentiis with Carlo Rambaldi's 40ft creation on set

King Kong producer Dino De Laurentiis on-set with Carlo Rambaldi's 40-foot creation

The hands became a beast on their own. Made out of duralumin metal, the monster’s mitts were inserted with bolts in the knuckles to stop them closing too tightly, then covered with rubber and the ubiquitous Argentinian horsetails. In themselves, they took four months to create. When they were finished, De Laurentiis came to visit the set, the crew extended the maws in the producer’s direction, then slowly uncurled the middle finger into the standard Sit And Swivel position. De Laurentiis cracked up but the laugh rang hollow: the mechanical finger froze in the upright position for around five days.

Yet for all the on-release hoopla around the great ape, Rambaldi’s creation only appears on screen in its entirety for under a minute, the monkey business mostly performed by a man in a Rick Baker suit. Still Rambaldi’s work on Kong is a huge stepping-stone in the advancement of animatronics-style effects.

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 PPS...
...No mention of 'Possession'?!? More

Posted by glaive on Thursday August 16, 2012, 17:48

2 P.S...
A "man" in a Rick Baker suit!!?? It WAS Rick Baker in his own suit! Shame on you Empire!!!!! More

Posted by malestorm on Tuesday August 14, 2012, 07:53

3 You HAVE to be kidding!!??
Ok it was BIG and the hands were clever BUT the reason why it was only on screen for a few seconds was because it was shit!!!! Talk about biting off more than you can chew!! Rick Baker WAS Kong in that film, end of story and precious little credit did he get, no wonder he,s practically disowned any links withit, end of story t!! More

Posted by malestorm on Tuesday August 14, 2012, 07:50


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