Computers are the most popular machines in the world right now and they’ve make every aspect of life easier from booking a vacation to learning trumpet. The movie industry has loved computers since day one and has utilized them to make their films bigger and better, taking us to new worlds and introducing us to fantastical creatures who if real would make us shit our pants.
Here are some rare images of cinema’s most iconic scenes with their computer effects removed. You won’t believe your eyes, I’m so serious.
The Return of the Jedi (1983)
By the time the third film in the effects-heavy Star Wars trilogy was released, George Lucas really knew his way around a mouse. In a famous scene toward the end of the film, our hero Luke Skywalker fences his brother Darth while the Old Master watches. After they shot the scene, Lucas realized his actors didn’t look old enough so he tinkered with it until he got to this:
Unbelievably, this is what the scene originally looked like:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director Quentin Tarantino is a real purist, often sleeping on piles of film and using a clapperboard to cut his fresh pasta. He was vehemently against tinkering with the famous slow walk scene in Reservoir Dogs but when renowned street artist BARF threatened to sue Tarantino unless his signature tag was removed from the background, the director was forced to use computer effects to cover it up. Here’s a still from the original scene, as shot:
Tarantino and BARF eventually became friends and even though it didn’t make it into the movie, the tag was seen by millions of people when MoMA in New York featured it in its “St. Paint” exhibition:
The Lion King (1994)
Disney struck gold with the release of its animated tale about a lion trying not to die, but production of the film wasn’t all cuddles and heirloom tomatoes. The use of a brand new technology where live action footage could be easily transformed into animation proved time-consuming and very expensive, causing then Disney CEO Michael Eisner to call the production “a fuckin’ tit tumor”. Here’s the final version of one of the film’s most iconic images:
Now compare that to the same scene before digital artists went to work:
You may recognize the young actor as Foxcatcher’s Mark Ruffalo, who had been interning at Disney at the time.
North by Northwest (1959)
Director Alfred Hitchcock bought the world’s first movie computer prior to shooting this classic film starring Cary Grant, hoping to use it in a key scene where the hero is chased by an airplane:
Unfortunately, the invention of the airplane was a still a few months away but Hitchcock had heard about the technology through Wired Magazine and simply had to include it in the film. To motivate the famously fickle Grant to act like he was actually scared, Hitchcock had the three things the actor feared most and had them chase him only to be replaced digitally with the plane during post-production. Here’s that same iconic shot with its effects removed:
CG’s greatest fears — mallards, grizzlies and his nephew Barney.
The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies was the result of George Lucas daring his friend Stephen Spielberg to make a movie about “a group of destitute kids and their mongoloid”. After completing the dare and looking at the footage, Spielberg thought the kids didn’t look shitty enough, so he shot fresh footage with new actors and digitally added them to existing scenes using USC’s then brand-new computer lab. Here’s a famous shot of the Goonies team that America fell in love with:
And here’s the original group in the same shot before they were digitally replaced:
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick is known for shooting take after take of the same scene, often frustrating actors and crew. When shooting the scene where Jack Nicholson goes crazy and tries to eat his wife, Kubrick has the actor break through the door 900 times before calling it a day. As the day wore on Jack would sip on a potent combination of castor oil and dark rum causing him to lose his concentration. It got so bad that he would forget his lines mid-take so Kubrick was forced to find creative ways to have him remember what to say. In the take that was ultimately used in the film, Nicholson was 27 Oil Drums deep and couldn’t tell the camera from the little boy who played Donnie, so Kubrick scribbled the famous line on the door frame for Jack’s reference. Here is what the scene looks like without digital editing where you can see Jack looking over and reading the text, that gave the scene an extra level of creepiness once it was removed:
**Bonus** The Matrix (1999) Original Test Footage: