Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk

Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk

Everyone remembers that famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie is finishing up, the bad guys just got their faces melted off, and the government worker is wheeling the lost ark into the depths of a huge warehouse. Or is it a huge warehouse? It’s actually a painting on glass called a ‘matte painting.’ This week, Clarke dives into how matte paintings have been used in Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. She explains the genius of the artist Christopher Evans and how he helped George Lucas bring his universe to life. 

Justin continues with the mysterious connection between the Mongolian army, milk, horses, and the plague.  Surprisingly, milk was a great advantage for Ghenghis Khan and his army, influencing future generations and their ability to process milk. We all know the plague was caused by rats, but what role did Ghenghis Khan and milk have in the spread of the black death? Find out in this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk.

The Softbrains podcast is available on all major podcast apps including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Listen in every week for weird history, awkward anecdotes and current events with your hosts Clarke and Justin! 

The Government Warehouse from the last shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A matte painting by Michael Pangrazio at Industrial Light & Magic,
‘Un Homme de Tetes’ by Georges Melies from 1898. Perhaps the first use of matte paintings in film.
Norman Dawn’s sketch from ‘Missions of California’ that details how he used matte painting to change telephone poles into trees. 
A very famous matte painting from the Planet of the Apes showing the Statue of Liberty destroyed on a beach. 
Christopher Evans working on Darth Vaders Imperial March. Filling in the details on the storm troopers. 
The completed matte painting used in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
One of the last hand painted mattes used in a major motion picture was in the 1997 epic, Titanic.
The 100 foot canvas background matte painting used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Power of Milk!
An artists representation of a Mongol warrior.
Homemade Airag:  the fermented milk from a mare
Mongol archer on his itty bitty horse and asymmetrical skeleton.
Human for scale. 
Flea carrying the black plague that was carried on rats that was carried on horses that carried the Mongols. 
Got the plague? See your local plague doctor.