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20 famous movie scenes that were created with miniature models

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Over the years we have seen some incredible movie magic come out of Hollywood, making some of the most iconic scenes in movie history. Whether it is man fighting aliens,

Whether it is man fighting aliens, man fighting ghosts or man fighting Jedi, we all can agree that Hollywood has been able to make us believe what we are seeing on the screen is real.

It is easy to assume most of the scenes are filmed in some huge movie warehouse with large full-sized sets that were built to make the actors believe they were actually in space or in the apocalypse. In reality, there was some creative set magic that made those scenes come alive.

Many of our favorite scenes from some of our favorite movies were actually filmed using miniature model sets that replicated the location they wanted to film in.

This tactic allowed the director to control every aspect of the landscape down to the size of the front door.

Here are 20 famous movie scenes that were created with miniature models.

The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element

Remember that scene in The Fifth Element where Leeloo smashes into Korben Dallas’ flying cab and causes a whole lot of mayhem and destruction? (What do you mean, you haven’t seen The Fifth Element? Go watch it right now. We’ll wait.) That whole scene, with cabs flying every which way and the cops chasing them and stylized buildings that you can hang off of the side of while the police are trying to shoot you with submachine cannons? An expertly-edited mix of live-action close-ups and carefully filmed models. Just goes to show you that, for all the good CGI can do, sometimes you just need to throw a bunch of little plastic cars around.



Alien is a classic film that takes place after a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call and their landing on the source planet finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. But it is a little known fact that Alien actually used miniature models to film many of those famous space scenes.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Raiders of the Lost Ark

Hey, look at Young Steven Spielberg lying there all beardy and hipster-ish, with his Raiders of the Lost Ark trucker’s hat and his whatever-that-rectangular-thing-is, overseeing his landscape of small blue figures like a God, a veritable GOD. Which, for the guy who made Raiders AND Schindler’s List AND Saving Private Ryan AND E.T. AND the supremely underrated A.I. Artificial Intelligence and a whole bunch of other good-to-great and extremely watchable films, is kind of fitting. Truth be told, we aren’t entirely sure what’s really going on here – some sort of storyboarding or something like that, maybe? – but whatever it is, it’s elaborate and sophisticated and detailed, and it’s Raiders, and isn’t that what really matters? 

Escape from New York

Escape from New York

It’s funny to think about now that New York City’s become a sanitized strip mall overrun with super ultra ultra wealthy people who buy condos in buildings shaped like toothpicks that they don’t even intend to live in (and yet the subway’s still a disaster most of the time, of course), but it wasn’t all that long ago that New York was a dystopian hellscape that you really could see becoming a giant prison at some point. This is, of course, basically the plot of Escape from New York, a prime slice of early-‘80s kick-ass action which, as you can probably gather from the image above, used a terrifically detailed model of Manhattan for its aerial shots. And who can blame them, really, considering the state of the city at the time. (Bet it was fun, though, when you weren’t getting mugged.)

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Devon Peters
Devon Peters is a lover of sports (Go Bears!) and hip hop, R & B, jazz and country music. His eclectic takes in music comes from his dad who is a lifetime studio musician. Devon has completed 3 marathons and is currently training for an Iron Man competition.

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