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Costumes And Sets
Maggie's ranch was constructed in the basin of collapsed volcanic craters known as Valles Caldera in the high country north of Santa Fe, near the national park at Los Alamos. Because of its protected status, the Park Service allowed The Missing access provided there was no disruption to the environment. Vehicles and equipment remained on the road above the location and, on occasion, horses were used to help transport film boxes and camera equipment from one set-up to the next.

While the shell of Maggie's cabin already existed, visual consultant Merideth Boswell rebuilt the interior and constructed a large porch to go around it. She also had to construct an entire working ranch, complete with corrals, outhouse, animal pens, blacksmithing area, barn and 'sick' house, where Maggie performed her healing. The ranch sequence covered a three-day winter period in the film, but was actually shot over 13 days, so Boswell and her crew were constantly melting snow or making snow so that all the shots would match.

All construction had to meet the stringent rules of the Park Service. The modest homestead gave the cast and crew a real feel for what it must have been like to live in such a harsh, isolated environment. Howard elected to film both the exterior and interior scenes at the location. If the scene took place at night in the bitter cold, everyone felt it.

According to Boswell, by 1885 "there was quite a bit of photography, so we had a good amount of available research material." While she initially based her sets on these research photos, they were modified to conform to the characters. "Much of it was a matter of economics. Ron and I talked about Maggie's economic situation; we didn't want it to appear that she was well-to-do. We made the sick house look like it might have been the original homestead with a sod roof. Then she moved into the cabin with a wood shingled roof. In terms of color, I worried about the monotony of everything being weathered, but paint would've just leapt out. Plus, paint was expensive. People of limited means put their money into their barns instead, because it represented their livelihood."

Fittingly, the production moved to Boswell's other major set during the final filming, a stage where she replicated the Santa Clara Pueblo, a starkly beautiful collection of ancient adobe brick structures. Some exteriors had been shot at the real Santa Clara Pueblo, but because it is a sacred site, Boswell couldn't tinker with it and had to construct a more film-friendly version for the interior sequences, one that had removable walls and access for lights and gear.

Most of the movie, however, takes place outdoors. When the company moved to Ghost Ranch, a breathtaking expanse of yellow and burnt-orange mesas and craggy hillsides that inspired many of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings, Boswell constructed her own rocky facade. She created the cave in which Pesh-Chidin hides the captive girls and meshed it seamlessly with the existing natural rock formations. Howard staged a large-scale shoot-out at the same location, which required strategically placed boulders to accommodate the story and the camera equipment. Boswell brought in some fake boulders, which were light enough to move around but sometimes had to be tethered when the New Mexican winds kicked up.

Boswell's most daunting assignment was the Hourglass Gap, where the film's action finale takes place. The script describes Hourglass Gap as a massive exterior wall of stone with palisades that shoot up some 500 feet. In the shadows of the rock face is a narrow gap so tight that even a rider-less horse could barely make it through. The actual location, a 20,000-acre ranch known as Cerro Pelon, had a high ledge overlooking a steep, nearly vertical hillside that gave way to a rambling valley of scrub and juniper trees. Boswell's team built up the hillside<

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