This summer we again have a slew of movies that contain impressive special effects. From cars falling out of airplanes in Furious 7 to Ant-Man’s microscopic action sequences, and Mission Impossible’s daredevil aerobatics on the side of an airplane. Today, special effects are ubiquitous in movies and there seem to be new ones that push the envelope of what is possible all the time as movie studios and filmmakers try to outdo themselves and impress audiences. But special effects have been developed over many years in tandem with the development of cinema. And today’s mind blowing special effects owe a debt of thanks to the movies that came before them. So here we look at 11 movies that contained special effects that changed filmmaking forever. Listed in chronological order.
11. King Kong (1933)
It might be hard to imagine now, but movie audiences had never seen anything like the stop motion animation they saw in 1933’s King Kong, which at the time was a major achievement in both special effects and filmmaking. Special effects wizard Willis O’Brien created masterful, detailed stop motion effects in the film of giant ape King Kong, as well as a number of prehistoric dinosaurs. He used matte paintings, 18-inch miniatures of King Kong, rear projection and painstaking stop-motion animation to create the effects in the movie, which included a scene where King Kong battles a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the classic finale where King Kong scales New York’s Empire State Building and fights an armada of airplanes. Willis O’Brien had the tricky task of inserting puppet dinosaurs into scenes with live actors, which at the time was extremely difficult. However, the results thrilled moviegoers in 1933 and set a new benchmark for what is possible with film special effects—particularly stop motion animation.