By George Goner (The Haunted Cabaret)
Yesterday I had a discussion with a couple of movie special effects enthusiasts, and ruffled a few feathers when I suggested that there is no such thing as making a movie special effect look real. The best we can hope for, I said, is to fool the mind into believing something looks real. Not quite the same thing; but, on the plus side, the human mind is usually willing to be fooled. After all, we have been trained since childhood to suspend our disbelief and accept all manner of magical and ridiculous ideas, from religious rituals to Santa Claus.
This childhood training will hold true so long as there is no attempt to achieve seamless realism in a given sequence. It does not matter whether the sequence appears in religion, a spoken fairy tale, or a movie. Because seamless realism is impossible to achieve, the human brain will destroy its willing suspension of disbelief searching for the flaw it insists must be there.
In the days of rubber suits and animatronics, this flaw was known as "the zipper down the monster's back." In these modern days of Computer Generated Imagery, it's known as "this jungle/animal/spaceship/(choose your image) is too clean, it can't be real." Making the situation worse, good special effects, like beauty, are always in the eye of the beholder.
That being said, here are five films with scenes that make me believe in the magical:
So there are my top five. I'm sure yours are different... So tell me why you disagree.
Next week: Top five movies with special effects that suck, but the movies are good anyway. Stay tuned.