Beijing-based director Zhang Yimou has long been considered a visual genius. Whether intimate dramas like 1987’s Red Sorghum and 1991’s Raise the Red Lantern, or spectacular wuxia epics like 2002’s Hero and 2004’s House of Flying Daggers, Zhang’s films are guaranteed to impress with their exquisite production and costume design, and in particular their meticulous and effective use of colour.
Ask most people what the most significant prop is in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and they’ll probably say a phaser, or a communicator badge, or maybe a Klingon bat’leth. But from those who truly hold the 1987-’94 series close to their hearts, you may hear a very different answer: Captain Picard’s Ressikan flute.
If sci-fi movies have taught us anything, it’s that the future is hardly a safe place. Whether it’s invading aliens, rogue robots or a repressive, dystopian regime, science-fiction worlds need defending (or attacking), meaning the genre is forever filled with a wide, often fascinating array of weapons, going all the way back to the classic raygun.
There’s seemingly no limit to the range of death-dealing devices cinema has come up with for its futuristic (or cosmically fantastical) adventures, from an arrow guided by whistles (as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) to, well, the planet-destroying Death Star. But the weapon has to feel right for the movie in question, and in turn can tell you a lot about a particular film’s aesthetic and theme – as the selection of classic sci-fi blasters included in Prop Store’s upcoming Entertainment Memorabilia LA auction reveals.
A common argument – sorry discussion – among film enthusiasts is: what was the best-ever movie decade? Some might plump for the golden years of the 1940s; others the raw, movie-brat-dominated verve of the ’70s; or maybe the slick, sardonic ’90s when indie cool infiltrated the mainstream. But if you take a good look at the cinematic landscape today, with the plot-connected mega-franchise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, state-of-the-art digital effects allowing for limitless world building, and film-makers like Christopher Nolan crafting original thrill-rides on a massive scale, you would be remiss not to consider the 1980s: the decade when the blockbuster came of age.
Games are perfect fodder for movie entertainment, whether they be the kind you play on the field, on the couch, or sat at a table. After all, isn’t any game inherently dramatic? Most sports are broken up into ‘acts’, effectively, whether they be halves, innings or quarters. They shiver with tension throughout, delivering twists and turns along the way and, more often than not, end with a decisive and emotional resolution: a winner and a loser. Oh, and they come with a built-in audience. Who can deny the stirring power of a roaring crowd, even one watched from the comfort of a cinema seat?
Over an impressive, five-decade career, costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck has broken new ground (she was the first-ever African American designer hired at Paramount, then Disney) and contributed to several key, progressive moments in Black cinema history, with such movies as The Color Purple, Coming To America and Glory (her first film as a head of department).
As we assessed the cinematic and televisual treasures available in our second Los Angeles-based Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, it occurred to us just how much history was contained in our lots.
From the 1960s to the 2010s, we have six decades’ worth of memorabilia. So let’s go on a journey, decade by decade, through some truly iconic props – all of which will be open for bidding July 1st – which all made a mark on the eras in which they graced the screen.
For costume designer Leesa Evans, Zoolander 2 must have been a dream gig. Having specialized in comedy (primarily movies produced or directed by Judd Apatow), it meant she got to dress the likes of director Ben Stiller and a slew of other comedy legends and celebrities of all walks. But, given the long-awaited sequel continued the original’s lampooning of the fashion world, it also meant she got to meet and collaborate with some of the biggest names in haute couture.
Alex Garland’s cerebral sci-fi thriller Annihilation is, among other things, a movie about mutation – rapid, drastic change forced on lifeforms by a mysterious extra-terrestrial effect. This was epitomized by the strange and dangerous creatures encountered by the film’s protagonists, who must enter a quarantined, oddly kaleidoscopic zone known as “The Shimmer.” Creatures like an albino alligator with shark-like teeth, for example. Or strange, humanoid figures formed from plants. Or the movie’s featured creature: a monstrous bear with a skull-like face that distressingly contains warped human elements.
the summer of 1986, Robin Behling was presented with a huge challenge. Formerly an advertising manager at EMI Music, then account director for entertainment-specialist ad agency Cream Creative, Behling had just taken over as creative director of Feref Associates, a Soho, London-based creative agency based which specialised in creating tailor-made advertising campaigns for movies. Despite its impeccable reputation, he’d arrived to find that Feref was struggling financially. It was overstaffed and its directors were, as Behling now recalls, “in hock with the bank”. It had also just lost a massive chunk of its business with the sudden departure of a major client.
Star Wars stunt coordinator and sword master Nick Gillard reflects on his days with the Jedi of the Old Republic.
Almost 60 years on from Dr. No, people still can’t get enough of James Bond, as the hunger for the still-delayed No Time To Die surely shows. With several artefacts from the world of 007 appearing in our upcoming EMLA – from Pierce Brosnan’s Walther PPK to Daniel Craig’s Skyfall tuxedo – we thought we’d reveal a few fascinating facts about the franchise that you might not yet have heard…
When Phil Tippett first saw the computer-animated T-rex stomping towards him in an Amblin screening room in 1991, he knew he was finished. Conjured on the sly by the team at ILM in their San Rafael facility, the fearsome creature moved with a lifelike smoothness that Tippett could only dream of achieving using the stop-motion animation techniques he’d honed over decades.
He turned to director Steven Spielberg, who’d hired him to create and animate the dinosaur miniatures for Jurassic Park, and said, “I think I’ve just become extinct.”
The headpiece of the Staff of Ra is central to what is, without doubt, one of the most powerful and majestic scenes in modern cinema: the Map Room scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. As John Williams’ magnificent score swells and soars to roof-lifting, operatic heights, a sunbeam catches the headpiece’s central, amber bird’s eye and transforms into an ancient laser-beam, directing Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to the resting place of the titular relic.
This year, in Prop Store’s first Los Angeles-based Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, we have a distinguished piece of movie-making history going up on the auction block, in the form of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vista Vision Motion Picture Camera. This camera, used not only on the production of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, but also by filmmaking legend Cecil B DeMille when filming The Ten Commandments, was a marvel of technology in its day, and helped the Master of Suspense produce an enduring Noir classic.
It’s hard to think of a movie weapon more iconic or impressive than the lightsaber. With its unearthly glow and that mesmerizing hum, it represented the perfect blend of Star Wars’ romantic fantasy and sci-fi elements: a sword, which could have been a samurai blade or King Arthur’s Excalibur, whose blade glowed and crackled like a magically frozen laser blast. To quote Jedi Master Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), it was “Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.”
For their groundbreaking crossover miniseries, Marvel’s The Defenders, the creative team behind Marvel’s street-level heroes pulled together characters, worlds, and story elements from four separate series to craft a team-up event like nothing Marvel Television had ever attempted. But there were many steps behind the scenes, and decades worth of stories in the pages of Marvel Comics, that had to happen before the Defenders could be brought to life on film.
Just over 20 years ago, Prop Store started out as a one-man band, run by founder Stephen Lane from his home office in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. In 1998, driven by his love of cinema and memorabilia collection, Lane realised there was a huge potential market in movie props: items often seen as waste by film studios, which usually would end up in a skip, but which he saw as valuable artefacts, coveted by collectors like him the world over. His first Prop Store sale was to an American collector (who still shops at Prop Store today, 22 years later), who bought a crew jacket for £393.
This year’s Cinema Poster Live Auction has over 300 posters, including an amazing selection of posters and original artwork from the collections of well-known comic-art artist Jock, Academy Award®-winning special effects cinematographer, Richard Edlund, former Lucasfilm Executive and Assistant Director Howard Kazanjian, and so much more!
So, sit back, relax, and get up-close and personal with some of our featured lots from the auction…
Ask any toy collector which treasure they’d most like to own, and the chances are they’d all tell you the same thing: a rocket-firing Boba Fett.
The laconic intergalactic bounty hunter is widely regarded as the Star Wars saga’s coolest character, with his Spaghetti Western-style, jetpack armour and that iconic, narrow-slit helmet visor, which suggested a cruelty and merciless precision far beyond the Empire’s clumsy stormtroopers. But this isn’t why he’s so sought after in action-figure form. At least, not entirely.
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