It’s easy to think of films in terms of
So, as our tip of the hat to these famous film props, we’ve listed some of the most iconic in film history.
1. The Delorean – Back to the Future
It’s hard to believe DeLorean cars weren’t always ic0nic and didn’t actually sell very well. Only 9,000 models were made before production was halted in 1983. It doesn’t matter though – once you hear the first bars of the iconic “Back to The Future” theme music, your imagination is immediately captured as you picture this iconic car, and it’s two unforgettable passengers – Emmett “Doc” Brown and Marty McFly (Christopher Lloyd & Michael J Fox).
2. The Fedora – Indiana Jones
Arguably cinema’s most iconic hat, sported by Harrison Ford’s equally iconic Indiana Jones. Woukd the films have been as successful without this prop? Maybe, but the character would be nowhere near as recognisable.
The fedora was supplied by Herbert Johnson Hatters in England for the first three films, while the fedora sported in above clip from the fourth (not-so popular amongst diehard fans) film was made by Adventurebilt Hat Company of Columbus.
3. The lightsaber – Star Wars
Is this the most iconic prop in the history of cinema? We think it’s definitely in the running. When the lightsaber first burst onto our screens as part of the original Star Wars film (since re-titled “A New Hope”), it was the corner-stone of a new fantasy universe which was to change films and stories forever.
The lightsaber is more than just a prop – it’s arguably a glimpse into the soul of the person who wields it. From the peaceful blue and serene green light-sabers which are the weapons of Jedi masters and knights such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker, to the dark-red versions which are the hall-mark of tormented and villainous characters such as Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.
The lightsaber is the coolest weapon in the history of film, and one of the coolest props to grace our screens. While the blade itself is superimposed on, the hilts are real, and today people pay thousands for exact replicas.
The originals we constructed from old press camera flash battery packs and other pieces of hardware.
4. Wilson – Castaway
This prop was a plot driver more than anything. It allowed Chuck Noland, the castaway (played with great skill and heart by Tom Hanks), to explore dialogue that would have been impossible without the use of an imaginary friend. One of the original volleyballs used in the film was sold for $18,500 to the ex-CEO of FedEx.
It’s also worth noting that you can buy your very own Wilson, on the Wilson sports website.
5. The Ring – Lord of the Rings
It’s arguable that the “One Ring To Rule Them All” didn’t begin life as a film prop, as it was a mythical talisman in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books first. But, much like George Lucas’s lightsabers, the ring is an iconic and integral part of a fantasy drama which tells a story of human corruption and power. The ring has a dark effect on anyone who touches it or holds it close, and the use of special effects in the films helped to create the image of a gem which can easily drive a person to insanity (remember Sean Bean’s Boromir succumbing to temptation in the first film?)
The ring for the films was designed and created by Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith in Nelson, New Zealand. There’s nothing particularly special or interesting about the way it looks, but it’s still an iconic prop that we couldn’t leave off the list.
6. The cup of water – Jurassic Park
This is arguably one of the simplest but most chilling props in film history, and is a great example of how Steven Spielberg can tell great stories with the smallest of cinematic details.
The story goes that Spielberg was driving in his car one day, listening to “Earth, Wind & Fire” and noticed his mirror was shaking. It was then he realised he wanted to use a similar effect to herald the arrival of the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the forthcoming Jurassic Park. It’s now one of the most recognisable scenes in the modern blockbuster age and is perhaps more remarkable for its simplicity in an age of overblown CGI.
7. Audrey Hepburn’s cigarette holder – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Audrey Hepburn’s cigarette holder formed the backbone of a whole publicity campaign for the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and is now one of the most iconic fashion accessories any prop maker could imagine. The prop and the woman are almost completely synonymous in this film, and it’s a prop which has made its fair share of appearances at fancy dress parties.
8. The clay pot – Ghost
This prop is notable for playing a part in one of the most famous love scenes in cinema. It’s been parodied and aped on a number of occasion, which is especially impressive when you consider the logistics of filming with a prop like this. Jane Musky, the production designer of this scene, recalled that not only was the timing of the clay and the pottery wheel hard to get right, but she was worried that the jukebox used to play Unchained Melody would malfunction.
9. Rosebud – Citizen Kane
Rosebud, the prop at the centre of one of 20th century film’s earliest cinematic masterpieces, Rosebud is the sled on which a young Charles Foster Kane before he was taken away to lead the life of a great American businessman and newspaper publisher. It’s the central mystery at the heart of one of the most famous stories in American cinema, and symbolises a time of simplicity and joy in Kane’s life.
10. Gene Kelly’s umbrella – Singing in the Rain
This is a prop which is now so iconic, it transcends mediums. Singing in The Rain has been adapted for both stage and film, meaning that this scene and this prop has been the centrepiece in many incarnations of this song.