Lord of War: the secrets of an explosive credits

Impossible to forget the generic shock of Andrew Niccol’s film, broadcast this evening on M6 in the second half of the evening.

The number of firearms currently in circulation is estimated to be approximately 550 million, that is, 1 in 12 humans are armed on this planet. The only question is, ‘How do you arm the other 11?These are the words that open the Lord of war ofAndrew Niccol, released in theaters in 2005, and through which the unscrupulous arms dealer Yuri Orlov presents his disastrous work. The film returns to W9 tonight.

Camped by a Nicolas Cage in great shape, as chilling as it is fascinating, Yuri Orlov is the symbol of a clandestine arms market completely out of control, at the center of the virulent denunciation made by the filmmaker. Under cover of a bigger-than-life character inspired by several real arms traffickers, mainly by the real “Lord of War” Viktor Bout, Russian arms dealer sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012, Niccol draws the picture of a situation which had to be urgently remedied.

Lord of war so no shortage of shock phrases (Kalashnikov is the most exported Russian product after vodka, caviar and suicidal writers“), nor punch sequences, but few marked memories as much as the very first minutes of the film and its chilling credits, dubbed Life of a Bullet, and in which we can follow all the stages of the design of a ball, from its manufacturing in the factory to its lethal impact, through all its intermediaries. A perfect example of storytelling in three minutes, which traces the “life” of a rifle bullet through the different traffics and war fields around the world.

A digital precision machine

Cocorico, this credits sequence is the work of a French studio, the E.S.T. (Study and Supervision of Fakes). To achieve this result on the screen, the visual effects teams supervised on the film by Yann Blondel essentially had to work from images composed and generated by computers as well as with high dynamic range imaging techniques. (or HDRI). A necessity for such complex and meticulous plans to create, but which at the time created some additional problems, as Blondel explained to the MaxDiamondHead site in 2007.

Everything inside the machinery is computer generated until you come out on the treadmill. The treadmill and the balls are too. But all the images in the background also had to be reconstructed into computer generated images because the camera moved a little too much, and we wanted the ball to keep a perfectly straight trajectory. On the planes where we see the ball being taken by hand, the actor and his hand were filmed against a green background and then embedded in a background in computer generated images“.

The great complexity of the movements operated by the ball during the credits forced the E teams. S. T. constantly having to juggle between real shots, green backgrounds and digital images: When the chest arrives in Africa, it is yet another story. We had to redo everything in computer generated images when the ball fell and rolled on the ground. We had managed to turn a good movement, but we could not position ourselves well relative to the ground. We had to recreate the whole background in computer graphics, just because of a few centimeters!

The tragic irony of war

Today, if these digital effects (including acceleration and deceleration of the shots) may have aged a little, they still play a large part in the ironic effect of this credits. In three minutes, he sums up the spirit of the filmAndrew Niccol, which often exhibits with a lot of squeaky humor, all the cogs of the clandestine arms trafficking across the planet. The counter-use of the very peaceful For What It’s Worth of Buffalo springfield, emblematic protest song of opponents of the Vietnam War and anthem of the counter-culture written during the riots between hippies and police on the Sunset strip of the 60s, obviously has a lot to do with it.

In his analysis of the credits of Lord of war, the site Art of the Title points to an unexpected but formally very similar comparison between the credits of the film and those of the series of Is there a cop?, parody classics of the Zucker – Abrahams – Zucker trio. In the first three parts of the saga of Naked gun (themselves inspired by the series Police Squad, who had introduced the gimmick), we can follow throughout the credits the path of a police beacon, a path which generally ended in absurd situations (at the top of a roller coaster, on a hockey rink or even on the surface of the Black Star).

This comparison is in the image of the credits as a whole, which calls upon a sense of strong pop reference, between the aesthetics and the digital images of the first-person shooters and the final shot filmed from inside the barrel of ‘a rifle recalling the “gun barrel shot” signature of all James Bond. A flashy credits, pop and virtuoso, which however never eclipses the cruelty of the reality which it depicts. A credits like Yuri Orlov.

The story of Lord of war : Born in Ukraine before the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Yuri arrived in the United States with his parents. He pretends to be a Jewish emigrant … Daring and a fine negotiator, he makes a place for himself in arms trafficking. The huge sums of money he earns also allow him to conquer the one that has always fascinated him: the beautiful Ava. In addition to this ideal husband and father life, Yuri becomes one of the biggest sellers of clandestine weapons in the world. Using his connections in the East, he multiplies the ever more risky blows, but each time manages to escape Jack Valentine, the FBI agent who has sworn his loss …

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