Tribute to Carlo Rambaldi at the 2017 Romics
At this April’s Romics Comic Con — held as usual in Fiera di Roma — I had the great chance to attend a tribute gallery to Carlo Rambaldi, organized by his children. The exhibition was focused on Carlo’s most well known special effects work — E.T: The Extraterrestrial, Alien, and the 1976 King Kong — and featured a painted E.T. sculpture and a replica of King Kong’s hand (mechanized to grab people!), as well as several prints of photographs of Carlo’s work on said films, and of magazine pages with articles on them.
The prints included Carlo’s extensive concept art for E.T. — the various expressions of the character, as well as concepts for the animatronic and suit versions of the alien and how they would implement the various mechanisms animating E.T.. There were also Carlo’s anatomical sketches of the alien’s skeleton and musculature. The Alien stills depicted Carlo’s full-size animatronic heads built for the film (read more here) during the construction process; one of the heads currently resides at the Giger Museum in Gruyeres. The King Kong photographs portrayed the construction of the King Kong suit’s head, the full-size hands, and the full-size ‘Robot Kong’; Carlo’s sketches and paintings of King Kong’s face were also shown.
The tribute was there in occasion of E.T.‘s 35th anniversary, as well as to promote the work of the Carlo Rambaldi Cultural Foundation, which is trying to preserve the memory of the maestro’s effects work in the form of a museum. At the exhibition I met Carlo’s daughter, Daniela Rambaldi! A true honour. She told me that the museum, which is going to be in Carlo’s hometown, Vigarano Mainarda, is going to feature material from most of the films Carlo has worked on. I chimed in, specifically asking if the creatures from Dune and Possession (my favourite effects of his along with the Alien animatronic head) are going to be there, and she confirmed that those are going to be covered as well. The kind woman also left me with a signed postmark exclusive to the Con.The event continued in the evening, with a special panel dedicated to Carlo’s legacy: his film work from the first assignments to E.T., as well as the still pulsating importance of practical effects in today’s film industry. One of the guests was Leonardo Cruciano — key concept artist and special effects artist of Makinarium, one of the Italian special effects houses keeping the art of practical effects alive. The artists at Makinarium at large were inspired by Carlo’s iconic effects work. I waited patiently and, after the panel, I had the great honour to meet him and shake hands with him. Being a great enthusiast of Makinarium’s work on Tale of Tales (2015), I asked Mr. Cruciano if the sea monster design had been inspired by an Axolotl. “That was indeed the inspiration,” he told me. “I initially wanted to go beyond that, more ‘out there’, since it was a sea creature — but director Matteo Garrone wanted to maintain a simpler direction, which is the one you eventually see in the film.” You can visit the Carlo Rambaldi Cultural Foundation’s Official Website, as well as donate towards their cause and contribute to the funding for the museum. Of course, once the museum is open to the public, you can expect a full report from me!
While you are here, take a tour in Makinarium’s Official Website and see their wonderful special effects creations for Tale of Tales and other projects.