Saturday, 1 February 2014

Robocop Behind The Scenes PT 1 / Dead Or Alive, You're Coming With Me

With the remake soon to be released, I was so excited that I grabbed my crayons and began yet another 'behind the scenes' blog post on the classic SCI-FI classic 'Robocop.' 

The Original release was back in 1987 and was met with mixed reviews, mostly due to the barbaric, fascist state of decay the world had become. Starting off with a news report, director Paul Verhoeven was quickly able to set the scene, depicting the world on the tipping point of nuclear war.  The news report continues with a story of a cop being gunned down and fighting for his life-the reporter cheering him on like a sports fan supporting one of his idols. Needless to say, the lack of empathy was evident in his "good luck Frank" comment followed by the dashing quick flex of his fist.

Produced by Orion studios, Robocop was following in the footsteps of another movie produced by the same company which was called 'Terminator' where a sophisticated and unstoppable robot was sent back through time to eliminate the poor unsuspecting Sarah Connor. The Terminator was written as more of a horror movie, a genre that wouldn't suit the writers of our would be 'knight in shining armour' Robocop (literally).

Although undoubtedly the two movies would be linked and compared, there could be no question that their differences outnumbered their similarities, with the main divide being (believe it or not) that Robocop was more 'human' than the Terminator, an aspect that is highlighted further as the movie goes on.

Paul Verhoeven (pictured above) was a Dutch director with a religious background who really wanted to implement a piece of that into the movie as he toyed with the brutal death of Officer Murphy followed by the resurrection into Robocop - perhaps he was trying to be artistic but he was quoted as saying "you can't appreciate the resurrection unless the death was brutal, much like Jesus so I wanted to make his execution scene as horrific as possible, killing off the hero barely 25 mins into the movie"

The scene he is of course referring to is when Murphy is shot, possibly over 30 times at close range not to mention having his hand blown off to start the tortuous parade. Now I've never been shot before let alone absorbed that volume of punishment but I would tend to argue that Jesus perhaps suffered a lot more for a lot longer - but I guess myself and Paul can agree to disagree. 

The Robocop suit was designed around a Japanese Manga comic style design where they wanted to simple slit eye lens across the helmet and part of the face uncovered. I remember thinking during the movie "Why don't they just shoot him in the face" particularly in the car park scene where he, once again, is the subject of a firing squad... the poor guy can't catch a break

To be fair to the continuity team, Robocop does in fact cover his face when taking the shots so I'll pipe down and wind my neck in.Casting for the role of Robocop was difficult as the suit was restricted to a certain size. Originally they had wanted to cast Michael Ironside but found he would be too tall for the role.

Eventually they settled on Peter Weller who they found would be small enough to fill the role. When I watched back the movie recently I was amazed at just how skinny he is. Don't get me wrong when you watch the movies from the 80's they all tended to be slimmer but jeez, Peter is tiny. I am pretty sure I could press him above my head. Feel free to promote the Press Peter campaign...we could start a hash tag trend there.

So with the cast set they were ready to film right?

WRONG! Prior to filming, Peter had taken lessons from a miming coach to play the role of Robocop, all of which he had practised WITHOUT the suit on. On the first day of filming it took 11 hours..Yes ELEVEN hours to get all the adjustments right before he could walk out on set. It was not until he took his first few steps that he realised the suit restricted him in a very big way, delaying the start of filming by at least another week while he had to familiarise himself to the new outfit.

If you want a laugh, watch the movie over again, paying particular attention to the scene when he first confronts the executive at OCP, it's hilarious watching him jerk and spasm as his core programming refuses to allow him to complete his arrest.

So while you are all away seeking new thrills and giggles at our knight in shining armour's expense, ill get started on part two where I will discuss some of the special effects used to complete the key scenes in the movie.

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