Monday, 29 April 2013

Rather Special Motor Cars

On our trip round the south of England, we made two visits to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.  Here is my human, Andrew, showing me one of the exhibits.
Yes, for fans of films other than Disney animation, this is the underwater car used by Roger Moore as James Bond in "The Spy Who Loved Me".  It was one of the many fascinating Bond cars at the museum.  These ranged from Goldfinger's Rolls Royce to several from the latest film, "Skyfall".  There were also several other vehicles such as boats and "Little Nellie", the auto-gyro from "You Only Live Twice".

Rather like our trip to the Harry Potter studios, it was a chance to see what the reality is behind the magic you see on the screen. And for real Ian Fleming fans, the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was there too.

There were also all sorts of more or less "real" cars. Here is one that was very real even if it never drove on a road.  It is one my human Andrew is old enough to remember.
It is "Bluebird".  This is the very car in which Donald Campbell set the land speed record of 403 mph in 1964 - a record that still endures for a wheel driven vehicle.  The model next to it, by the way, is of Thrust SST, which holds the current record (and the first to break the sound barrier on land).

Andrew says I need not mention that both record-breakers were British.  You may think people would have to be mad to take the risks involved in these records but perhaps the British are.  After all, my humans let their toy cat write a blog.

They also cuddle him.   Yes, now.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

With Harry Potter

It's been a busy time recently for me and my humans so I am sorry I have not posted much.  Still, that's past us for a day or two and it does mean that I have lots to tell you about.

We have just come home from a tour around parts of the south of England.  The first stop was the Warner Bros studio where there is the Harry Potter tour.  This means we have more toys in the house.  One of them is a large spider.
Fortunately, as you see, I have use of the most powerful magic wand in the world so I am keeping the spider well in control.  You may say it's only a toy magic wand - but she's only a toy spider too so it works on her just fine.

The humans enjoyed the Harry Potter tour enormously.  Mikki was much more a fan of the books but Andrew is much more a fan of the mechanics of theatre and movie-making.  The tour gave lots to look at for both interests.  Here are a few more examples.
Knowing they would be making several films, the producers were able to construct the more frequently used sets to a higher standard than is often the case, and the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle is an obvious example. Visitors enter the studios through the door you see here so you can feel just like Harry and his friends did when they first arrived.  We took this picture after the rest of the tour party had left.

As well as the tables and furniture you can see, there are mannequins wearing costumes from some of the teachers standing at the high table behind us.
And here is my human, Andrew, with the set of the Gryffindor common room.  The commentary pointed out all the furniture was supposed to be very old so the film crew went to great lengths to make the carpet threadbare and the chairs worn. The common room was also one of many sets that had lots of portraits, all of which were painted specially.

This next picture is of something that wasn't used much but I can understand the studio was very keen to display it on the tour - and Andrew was keen to stand in front of it for is picture:  the "snake" door from the Chamber of Secrets.

If you are wondering where Mikki was, she was taking these pictures.  She also took this one of the set for Professor Dumbledore's office.  It was a magnificent set - as I suppose fitted the great wizard himself.

The humans bought a guide book that contained additional explanation of some of the work that went into dressing this set and building props.

Outside the sound stage, there was lots to see too.  Mikki climbed onto the three storey "night bus" and the Hogwarts bridge.  Andrew couldn't resist taking a picture of her in "Privet Drive".
As with all such sets, the houses in "Privet Drive" are only facades.  The interior scenes will have been shot on sound stages.  That's probably just as well.  It's difficult to believe there would be room inside a house this size for all the action that takes place in the films.  And we never saw the interior sets for these scenes.  I guess they weren't thought unusual enough to keep .

There was a whole lot more to see - like the complete "Diagon Alley" - and I may show you more pictures later.  There was also a magnificent model of Hogwarts used during the first four films (in the later ones, they had a "virtual" model and did shots of people flying over the castle with CGI).  One further huge attraction was a chance to fly a broomstick like the stars (i.e. in front of a green screen)..  Of course, my humans did that.  Here's Mikki.
All this was on the first day of our 9 day tour.  I was lucky the humans had energy left to cuddle me.

More soon.