Creature effects in movies intrigue me. I like learning about the imagining, building, and operation of these creatures. In 2011 I wrote a series of three posts called Dragon’s Heart. They focus on the devotion and creativity that went into the making of the movie Dragonheart. Now I want to bring your attention to another dragon: Falkor the Luckdragon from The NeverEnding Story film.
Falkor started out as a darted miniature rubber-jointed model that was eventually brought to life as a forty-three foot long motorized creature1. The head of Falkor is thred was crafted by Colin Arthur who specializes in production special effects and make up. He is currently working on the special effects make up in the 2014 film Vampyres – he is also known for his work in the 1974 original for this film.
The frame for Falkor was constructed by Guiseppe Tortura and featured airplane steel. It took thirty-six tackles to enable Falkor to speak, roll his eyes, laugh, and curve his body and tail around when interacting. Can you imagine the teamwork technicians had to develop to control all the tackles and achieve a semblance of natural movement? They practiced with the help of display screens so they could see the effect of their work2.
What about those sparkling scales? Falkor is covered in over 6,000 shiny plastic scales and draped with pink feather-fur. These were attached by hand. Goodness, the detail that must have gone to keeping him well polished and functional. What if scales popped off?
As for the deep voice Falkor uses in the first movie, Alan Oppenheimer is responsible for voicing Falkor1.
So where are the models used? According to a sourced article one is at the Bavaria Studios in Munich. This model has a saddle that visitors can ride on. As for the others, I’m not sure what was done with them.
I seem to like looking into the construction of creatures in movies. I’ve done a similar examination of the effects used in another of my favorite old movies, Dragonheart (link to old blog). I’ve always loved to find out how many things worked, picking apart the gears in a clock, and taking apart old chargers whenever I got the chance. Unfortunately I have not gotten my hands on an old car engine and virtual toys only go so far. Perhaps one day.
As always, feel free to leave a comment and inquiry below. If you are interested in seeing an exploration or interpretation of a topic please let me know!
Until next week, happy exploring~
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