How we made Flash Gordon

KGeo777

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I like some of the visuals in the movie and the European cast added something, not to mention, after watching the 1936 Buster Crabbe serial I was amazed how much Sam Jones would resemble him if he had the same hair--but it is a joke version of the story so ultimately not the best they could have done. No monsters, not enough adventure.
Plus I am not a fan of Queen.
I think they should have hired Antonio Margheriti to do the FX. I watched THE HUMANOID recently, a Star Wars rip off from 1979, and the FX by him were very good, especially the spaceships. The costumes were blatant rip offs of Star Wars, but the Vader-like helmets looked more professionally fabricated than the ones in Star Wars.
 

.matthew.

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I don’t know who decided that the Hawkmen should have beards.
My bet would be Brian Blessed flat out refusing to shave in a terrifyingly booming voice and that was that :)
 

CupofJoe

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For me, Flash Gordon is in the so-bad-its-good category. I could list all the things I think should have been done differently or better. Some of the special effects are not so special. But if it is so bad, why do I watch and rewatch it time after time?
Because it is fun! It has the energy [and some of the style] of those early serials. It was a good time romp. And for me, Queen's music fits it perfectly. Over-the-top and lively. I can't imagine one without the other.
I'd like to see a modern Flash Gordon film with some of the flair of the 1980s film, but it would probably be a terrible disappointment for me.
I tried watching the Flash Gordon TV show from a few years back and it was so dull...
 

BAYLOR

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The biggest problem with Hollywood is, that they've taken all of the fun and joy out going to the movies. Nowadays , they give us one soulless special effects driven epic film after another and In many cases , these films though cleverly made, are neither fun to watch nor are they really worth the price of admission . Flash Gordon flaws and and all, is a joy to watch and Max Von Sydow as Ming , steals the show. What we need are more films like this. Going to the movies is about entertainment , fun , escape and forgetting the world for two hours. This something that Hollywood needs to rediscover.
 
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Overread

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Interesting that its said above that there isn't enough adventure, I'd counter and say that it's all an adventure. Granted its a bit of a whistle-stop film too in that its clearly pressing into itself a lot of ground (I recall animated series that came later often spending far longer etc...) to get from "arrives on alien world" to "saves the universe". That said it paces itself well.

I wonder if part of its pacing and style is that the further back we go the more actors we have who have a strong theatre background to them and that in a film like this that element starts to shine through. Whilst in modern times we've a lot more actors who are used to the film set or even the green screen set alone. The style of presentation and acting varies and in films like this, as in a good many of the earlier "Musical Disney" films; we see that strong element of the theatre showing through. It's a different style of engaging without breaking the 4th wall.

That said I think its remained a strong film because we don't have many adventures today. Couple that to the fact that sci-fi has honestly become quite "hard/serious". I'd wager the closest we get to a fantasy-sci fi today is the Marvel/DC/comic films (which have their own issues)
 

KGeo777

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It's more humorous in tone with the main character than Superman.
The characters of Flash Gordon and Dale Arden are played for laughs unlike in the 1936 serial--that's the biggest flaw.
He's not wimpy like Luke Skywalker but he's not much of a hero either. He's completely overshadowed by the supporting cast.
I don't know if Jones could have done a performance as well as Crabbe, probably not, he seems kind of personality-lite, but they deliberately wanted to deconstruct a hero image. Fantasy works best when it is presented with an aim to suspend disbelief, and in this case, that was never a goal.
And it has no monsters.
The serial had the ape creature and giant lizards.
I thought Ornella Muti was one of the best things about it, until I saw Priscilla Lawson as Princess Aura.

I am surprised to see Lorenzo Semple Jr agreeing about the humor!


"Lorenzo Semple, Jr. wrote the script. He later recalled:

Dino wanted to make Flash Gordon humorous. At the time, I thought that was a possible way to go, but, in hindsight, I realize it was a terrible mistake. We kept fiddling around with the script, trying to decide whether to be funny or realistic. That was a catastrophic thing to do, with so much money involved... I never thought the character of Flash in the script was particularly good. But there was no pressure to make it any better. Dino had a vision of a comic-strip character treated in a comic style. That was silly, because Flash Gordon was never intended to be funny. The entire film got way out of control."
 

hitmouse

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I disagree with the “so bad it’s good” argument. Everything about this film is deliberate, and very clever. Arguably it would have been worse if Flash had been played as anything other than a square-jawed bland hero: the scenery-chewing support cast are terrific.

i think this is the only film I have attended where the audience stood up in spontaneous applause at the end.
 

KGeo777

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I really liked it when I first watched it a few years ago, but on second viewing not quite as much.
I remember it being heavily featured in Famous Monsters--but I wasn't interested in it (no monsters).
Battle Beyond the Stars was more appealing (it had a lizard man).
It was much cheaper looking and also had humor, but not the "we know this is silly" kind. John Saxon's bad guy is entirely serious (he did not play it for laughs-even the rebellious arm scene!).
There's something rather quaint about Flash Gordon as a concept though, it was bypassed by developments in alien concepts--a Lion Man seems kind of funny now as an alien species. Winged Hawk-Men--you kind of expect them to be more than just bearded guys with wings--but having alien faces too.
 

BAYLOR

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I really liked it when I first watched it a few years ago, but on second viewing not quite as much.
I remember it being heavily featured in Famous Monsters--but I wasn't interested in it (no monsters).
Battle Beyond the Stars was more appealing (it had a lizard man).
It was much cheaper looking and also had humor, but not the "we know this is silly" kind. John Saxon's bad guy is entirely serious (he did not play it for laughs-even the rebellious arm scene!).
There's something rather quaint about Flash Gordon as a concept though, it was bypassed by developments in alien concepts--a Lion Man seems kind of funny now as an alien species. Winged Hawk-Men--you kind of expect them to be more than just bearded guys with wings--but having alien faces too.

If I remember correctly i Battle Beyind the Stars was pretty much retelling Kurosawa's Seven Samurais. Its a terrific film with a terrific cast and classic.
 

BAYLOR

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Interesting that its said above that there isn't enough adventure, I'd counter and say that it's all an adventure. Granted its a bit of a whistle-stop film too in that its clearly pressing into itself a lot of ground (I recall animated series that came later often spending far longer etc...) to get from "arrives on alien world" to "saves the universe". That said it paces itself well.

I wonder if part of its pacing and style is that the further back we go the more actors we have who have a strong theatre background to them and that in a film like this that element starts to shine through. Whilst in modern times we've a lot more actors who are used to the film set or even the green screen set alone. The style of presentation and acting varies and in films like this, as in a good many of the earlier "Musical Disney" films; we see that strong element of the theatre showing through. It's a different style of engaging without breaking the 4th wall.

That said I think its remained a strong film because we don't have many adventures today. Couple that to the fact that sci-fi has honestly become quite "hard/serious". I'd wager the closest we get to a fantasy-sci fi today is the Marvel/DC/comic films (which have their own issues)

The Filmation Flash Gorion series is a superb, season one in particular, with its serial story arc . Even today it hold up pretty well. :cool:(y)
 

paranoid marvin

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I've seen both Brian Blessed and Sam Jones at conventions and they are both awesome individuals. Flash Gordon is a an all-American comic book good-guy hero; he has no pretensions or inner angst to deal with - he's literally straight from the comic book page. He's not a super-hero, he's just an ordinary guy with no super-human abilities fighting for the good guys.

I think I remember from the conference that there was a suggestion of Flash hitting a bad guy from behind and it was decided no, Flash would only fight a fair fight and face his enemy from the front (unlike Voltan!)

The film was very cleverly made to resemble a comic book - and it works wonderfully well.
 

Vince W

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Flash Gordon is one of those films I love unashamedly. The cast is perfect, the story works, and I love Queen's soundtrack. I find people who don't like this film made up their minds before ever seeing it.
 

paranoid marvin

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Flash Gordon is one of those films I love unashamedly. The cast is perfect, the story works, and I love Queen's soundtrack. I find people who don't like this film made up their minds before ever seeing it.


Yes I love Queen's music too, and it works perfectly in this film (and arguably even better in Highlander). For anyone seeing the film for the first time in 2020 I guess it's hard to judge it by the standards of the day in which it came out. there aren't really any comic books anymore and heroes are all so much more complicated; just because Flash is uncomplicated doesn't lessen him in any way.
 

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