The mechanics of monsters. From Carlo Rambaldi to Makinarium

October 22, 2019 > January 6, 2020
curated by Claudio Libero Pisano
Exhibition promoted by
Roma Capitale – Assessorato alla Crescita culturale

Azienda Speciale Palaexpo

Image: Carlo Rambaldi. © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Rambaldi

The mechanics of monsters. From Carlo Rambaldi to Makinarium 22 October 2019__6 January 2020
Immagine mostra

Carlo Rambaldi (1925–2012) is the master of special effects, the game-changer who transformed their very role in the cinema from prop to protagonist. His much-loved and universally recognised creations – E.T., King Kong, Alien and many more – are identified today with the films themselves, but even before that Rambaldi was already one of the greatest special effects men in all kinds of films. He gave us the alien soldiers in Roger Vadim’s cult movie Barbarella, with a young Jane Fonda, and Pinocchio in Luigi Comencini’s eponymous movie, using mechantronic technology for the remote control of puppets, an absolute innovation for the period.
After working with Italy’s leading directors – Lucio Fulci, Lamberto Bava, Pupi Avati and Dario Argento – he moved stateside in the mid-70s to work with such Hollywood giants as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, Andrzej Zulawki and David Linch, winning fully three Oscars during his time in America.

Carlo Rambaldi, study with proportions and E.T. movements  | © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Rambaldi
Carlo Rambaldi, drawing with King Kong  | © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Rambaldi

The Italian artisan tradition coupled with a peerless command of technology ensured that Carlo Rambaldi was to become the greatest exponent of mechanotronics in the field of special effects cinema, his distinguishing feature being his unparalleled technical skill in breathing life into any kind of character. With him, special effects went from being smart trick to part and parcel of the story being told on screen.
The exhibition tells the story of Rambaldi, inextricably entwined with the history of global cinema, thanks to the discovery of all the materials, notes and various different versions of his best-known characters. Visitors will be able to admire his sketches that resulted in the final version of E.T., his studies for King Kong and the technical projects behind the movement of his various characters.

Immagine singola
The exhibition also documents the generations that came after Rambaldi and how, after the boom years of the digital revolution, those generations have now returned to mechanotronics to combine it with digital technology. The Makinarium Group, a world leader in the sector, has restored Rambaldi’s work for the exhibition while a separate section explores their work in the cinema today.
There is a continuity between the work of the Ferrara-born master and the techniques used to achieve special effects today, the construction techniques behind some of the Makinarium Group’s monsters bearing an extraordinary similarity to the creatures that populated the cinema of the 1970s and ‘80s.
curated by Claudio Libero Pisano