WILD WILD WEST
Loveless' Arsenal of Objects
While West and Gordon have their cache of fabulous weapons, as well as their state-of-the-art railroad train, so does Loveless, who would never be outdone by his opponents
While West and Gordon have their cache of
fabulous weapons, as well as their state-of-the-art railroad train,
so does Loveless, who would never be outdone by his opponents.
In designing Loveless's world, Welch looked at a number of design
themes of the post-Civil War era, focusing on 1860s New Orleans,
where Loveless lives.
"Since Loveless is a futurist -- a mechanical genius of the
era -- he would know what's going on in Europe at the time. He's
into machines, steam power, heavy metal and cast-iron," says
Welch. "And because of his New Orleans/French connection,
he would know about wrought-iron architecture, which they were
getting into in France in the 1860s."
Among the sets and inventions are the Loveless mansion and boudoir,
constructed on Stage 20 at Warner Bros., which served as the setting
for a lavish New Orleans costume ball and "coming out"
party for Loveless, complete with 300 fantastically costumed extras.
Contained within its antebellum elegance is the Loveless Lair,
a gigantic cast-iron greenhouse design which functions as the
clandestine headquarters where Loveless creates his weapons of
mass destruction. The Lair was constructed on Stage 16 at Warner
Bros.Loveless' yacht is Bo Welch's homage to America's historic
fighting ships, the Monitor and the Merrimac, blended with Mississippi
riverboat style. It was constructed on Stage 22 at Warner Bros.,
with a half-scale version built for shooting on location.
Among the fantastic inventions developed by Loveless are the first
cast-iron, steam-driven wheelchair and Loveless's cast-iron tank
train, Black Death on rails. A versatile land and rail tank, combined
with a sleek bullet-like train, Black Death is a formidable opponent
to The Wanderer.
But perhaps the greatest opponent of them all is Loveless' awe-inspiring
Tarantula, the ultimate weapon -- an 80-foot-tall arachnid of
Explains Welch, "Loveless is a man without legs. The thing
that fascinates him most in nature is the spider. The spider has
eight legs and is quite mobile and resourceful and is an engineering
genius in and of itself in nature. Loveless is impressed and fascinated
by these abilities, so the spider is really his inspiration --
his signature and a recurring motif in the film."
This icon of innovation and destruction was the first element
of the film to be designed. "Barry and I had a discussion
that went something like this," says Welch: "How big?
Oh, 60, 80 feet tall. Okay, I said. And he said it's kind of like
an erector set and steam-driven. It just sort of clicked instantly,"
The Tarantula is created through a combination of sets and computer-generated
imagery from Industrial Light and Magic's visual-effects supervisor
Eric Brevig and his team.
Welch also received assistance from Academy Award-winning special-effects
supervisor Michael Lantieri, whose engineering efforts not only
provided for the plethora of moving gadgets and gizmos of the
Tarantula, but for virtually every invention revealed in "Wild
Welch's art department constructed three separate sets for the
spider, including two decks. One deck was lightweight on a motion-control
base to accommodate exaggerated movement for blue-screen filming,
and one deck was heavy, on air bags to accommodate minimal movement,
close-up stunt sequences and dialogue delivery by the actors.
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