When you think of your favourite cult films, what do you imagine? Once you’ve got past those amazing performances and iconic scenes, all that’s left are the sets and the props. Film props are something of an underground spectacle, with many collectors going to great lengths to source and purchase some of the most famous pieces of film history the world has ever seen.
This article is all about those props that fly, be that in an abstract or legitimate sense. These are the props that have captured our imagination in more ways than one and sent us to the clouds. Here are four of the best:
The Golden Snitch
The golden snitch is one of the most iconic flying props there’s ever been, and gained enormous popularity on the back of the Harry Potter film series. For anyone unfamiliar with it, the snitch is the small, winged ball used in the game of Quidditch. The aim of the game of Quidditch is for the seeker to catch the snitch and win the game. Combining art-nouveau shapes with industrial design, the film prop was made from a mix of gold and copper, and is now firmly established as a collector’s item.
The famous DeLorean is the star of the iconic Back to the Future trilogy starring Marty McFly and the famous mad scientist, Doc. The iconic time-travelling vehicle and the burning tyre marks left in its wake possibly became so iconic because the DeLorean is in fact a real car. Admittedly, the real vehicles don’t fly, but it’s always nice to see one out in the streets – £10 to anyone who can resist pointing out the car from Back to the Future whenever they see a DeLorean.
Perhaps one of the most established cars of the 1980s renowned for its vertical doors and sleek futuristic design, you can visit the actual DeLorean vehicle that was used in the movie at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Since the popularity of the Back to the Future series, the DeLorean has become a vintage classic, with many bidders paying top-dollar for an original model. Film enthusiasts have also been known to modify the car to match the futuristic time-machine elements visible in the films.
RC Planes in Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan’s war epic Dunkirk was one of 2017’s most popular movies and with good reason. Starring Tom Hardy as a valiant RAF Spitfire pilot, it would have been impossible to film some of the courageous scenes in the movie using real spitfires. Firstly, there are very few functioning Spitfires still around, and secondly, it takes a great level of expertise to film these scenes on camera. Nolan found a solution. Rather than risking the life of their pilots, smaller RC planes were used, enabling Nolan to create amazing scenes showing the planes crashing into the sea as well as performing difficult manoeuvres. However, these planes weren’t your standard Airfix models – they were fully-fledged 8-foot-long RC planes. Interesting, eh?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
It’s only right to leave the most iconic flying prop until last. The 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starring Dick Van Dyke came spliced in between the critical successes of the iconic Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, all films that include flying props. Maybe it was the pioneering era of green screen that gave way to these popular flying mediums? Who knows? But one thing is certain: the film received huge critical acclaim.
The production of the movie was reported to be an arduous one with six of the famous vehicles created in various sizes to allow for differing shots and more adventurous, pioneering footage. While only one of the models was built to be fully functional and roadworthy, you’re still required to pay a handsome price to get your hands on the remaining five vehicles at auction. The original and most-established model was secured by legendary film director Peter Jackson for £500,000.
These flying film props from the annals of movie history. Whether it’s the golden snitch being pursued by Hogwarts students at breakneck speed or the DeLorean CGI’d into the stratosphere in Back to the Future, there’s no arguing that these are some of the most famous and treasured props the film industry has in its locker.