Friday, December 30, 2005

Fahrenheit 10,000

Just returned from a two-day trip to Los Angeles with my nephew, Danny. We spent Thursday at Universal Studios in Hollywood, where we took the hour-long studio tour of the entire outdoor filming complex. This included the Bates Motel from Psycho, Whoville from the Grinch, a very realistic airplane wreck from War Of The Worlds, and Wisteria Street from Desperate Housewives. We saw instant flash floods, rainstorms, and earthquakes. We saw streets of rubber foam which, when filmed, look convincing as stand-ins for New York, London, or Paris. Bruce the Shark, from Jaws, reared his ugly head from a lagoon.

I had done this tour 14 years ago with Andres, but almost everything had changed - there have been a lot of movies made since 1991... Most of the attractions in the adjacent theme park were based on post-1991 Universal productions, including Jurassic Park, Shrek, Van Helsing, and Backdraft, Ron Howard's 1992 film about firefighters. The "Backdraft" show first explained how fire effects are created and how actors are able to safely perform amid raging blazes, exploding windows, doors bellowing fire, and burning, collapsing beams. But explaining is not the same as showing. In the final chamber, we were treated to a live, very frightening staging of a fire in a warehouse of chemicals.

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