October 27, 2009

Hey, Get a load of that Strained Glass Window!

I gathered these clips awhile ago, but never managed to post them. I guess that it seemed like I was making too fussy a point to bother posting it. Well, I've been busy and thought I may as well throw these on the blog out of mere curiousity.

It's long bothered me how movies get stained glass windows wrong. Specifically, how they get the idea of how a stained glass window will break wrong. They cannot conceptualize that a stained glass window is a matrix of metal with glass inserts. They show it as if it is a sheet of glass. So the impact of crashing into a stained glass window is done with a big sharp sounding crash and lots of shards of glass breaking apart. The truth is that unless the impact is very great the impact would be with a thud and there would not be shards of glass flying everywhere.

first example -
"Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves", the Kevin Costner version.
The business with the stained glass window is at 3:15. Do yourself a favor and just go straight to that and watch only that. This is an incredibly bad movie no matter how you look at it, and it only gets worse with age.
Even a human body will not shatter a stained glass window like this, especially considering that any stained glass window the size of a human body will have support bars. Kevin Costner would as likely have bounced off the window entirely. Which, considering the quality of the movie, might have been an improvement.

"State and Main" - The actual scene that botches up the effect of breaking the stained glass window is such a small part of the movie that I wouldn't even mention it, except that it is actually mentioned in the dialogue as something of a plot point that the stained glass window in the firehouse is the only thing of value in the town. Again, it breaks as if it is one big sheet of glass, though mercifully there are no exploding shards of glass. At least 'State and Main' is a reasonably watchable movie. Though I would also say it's mostly of interest to hardcore David Mamet fans. David Mamet and comedy just don't seem a comfortable mix, imho.

The set-up for the 'value' of the stained glass window - at 1:38

The window breaking is shown in the trailer at 1:54 -

Pinocchio (1939) - Okay, it's a cartoon, and Disney at that, but I can remember picking up on this even when I was a teenage hobbyist in the 70's. The scene is at 2:20, when Lampwick picks up a brick and hurls it at the 'strained glass window', which shatters like a single sheet of glass. A big tinkling exploding bang. Hey at least this is a genuinely great movie with only a minor annoyance for a nitpicky stained glass artist like me... (not embedded)

Posted by Tom at October 27, 2009 07:31 AM