Friday, April 11, 2014

Vintage "Silent Running" Drone Concept Art by Doug Trumbull, Don Trumbull, Paul Kraus & James Dow

Friday, April 11, 2014 - by Maurice Mitchell 3

Silent Running Drone Concept Art

Check out vintage Silent Running concept art by Doug Trumbull, Don Trumbull, Paul Kraus & James Dow!

Every Friday I try and feature artwork from a classic of science fiction cinema or television. This week's "Flashback Friday" post is on Silent Running (1972)

Douglas Trumbull worked on special effects for Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey and this was his directorial debut. He wrote a treatment for the film about a man trying to save the last of humanity's plant and animal life. He was frustrated by the cold look of Kubrick's vision of the future and wanted to make something more human. The film was shot in 32 days, aboard an aircraft carrier and inside an airplane hangar in California. One bit of controversy was the use of amputees in the film. The challenge was to create robot Drones that acted human and would be fool-proof on the set with only a budget of $1 million. Inspired by the movie 1932 film Freaks they hired bilateral amputees to wear the suits. Some at the time called it exploitative which Doug Trumbull called "cold." Using people in the suits instead of robots led to some wonderful moments like when the drone Huey taps his foot waiting outside and Dern tapping the drones on the shoulder.

While we don't know exactly who created the drawings we do know that Doug Trumbull, his father Don Trumbull, Paul Kraus and James Dow designed and built the drone suits. The suits are now in Douglas Trumbull's personal collection.

Click on the images to enlarge









Here's what they looked like in the final film:

See more of Doug Trumbull's work in film at http://douglastrumbull.com.

Click on the links if you want to see more of Doug Trumbull's work or Silent Running on my blog.

Images via the comprehensive robot site cyberneticzoo. Make sure you head there for more robotic goodness. Also, you can watch the fascinating hour-long "Making of Silent Running" documentary for more inside information.

What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen Silent Running what did you think?

Official Silent Running Summary
"By the year 2008, all that remains of the Earth's plantlife is preserved in space, maintained under huge Geodesic domes on board three ships orbiting the planet Saturn. Botanist and crewman Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) is horrified when the order comes from home to destroy the greenhouses, and kills his three human crewmates in order to prevent them from carrying out the termination. Injured in the process, Lowell is forced to rely on his three service robots as he goes on the run in the one remaining station, determined to preserve what is left of his home planet's ecology."
Directed by Douglas Trumbull
Cinematography by Charles F. Wheeler
Release date: March 10, 1972 (US)
© Copyright 1972 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved


About the Author

Maurice Mitchell
Lover of science fiction and art.

3 comments:

  1. Pretty cool. I remember loving those robots. Really unique design

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I don't know a thing about "Silent Running." One can see the influence on the scifi that came after, though. The final robots look almost toy-like, like something Luke would have futzed around with on Dagoba whilst trying to figure out how to find Yoda.

    BTW, I love Nigel's new icon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's a great film A.C. To be honest it didn't do well in theaters, but the concept is mind-blowing.

    ReplyDelete

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