Friday, September 19, 2014

See the Wonderfully Insane Ships In FLASH GORDON Concept Art by Chris Foss

Friday, September 19, 2014 - by Maurice Mitchell 4


Check out Flash Gordon concept art by Chris Foss!

Every Friday I feature artwork from a classic of science fiction cinema. This week's "Flashback Friday" post is on Flash Gordon (1980)

The movie Flash Gordon has some insane visuals thanks to art director Danilo Donati but there's one design that was almost even more inspired thanks to master illustrator Chris Foss. The live-action movie based on the long-running Alex Raymond comic strip told the story of a football player "Flash" Gordon who gets kidnapped to the alien planet Mongo and fights the evil dictator Ming. In the film, the Hawkmen give Flash Gordon a Rocket Sled (Space Scooter) that he rides into battle.

Chris Foss is a professional concept illustrator who's worked on classic Hollywood movies like Alien (1979), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Jodorowsky's unmade Dune (2013).

Click on the images to enlarge.



Foss talked about working on the film in a YouTube video. The whole video is worth watching, but here are some highlights. He said, "Dino De Laurentiis called me when Flash Gordon was almost ready to go into production and asked me to come and see them in the studios because he wanted new versions of some of the designs that had already been done, which he obviously didn't like. And, specifically, he wanted me to redesign the 'Space Scooter.'

"I saw Dino De Laurentiis, he gave me a verbal brief. I was then taken down to the department that was physically building the stuff and we discussed what this thing was supposed to do in the film. And I then went away and, over a long holiday, produced the designs for it."

Foss said it was the only thing that he designed for the film and was left to do it his way. "I would have designed the cycle because he had to stand up and he had to have handlebars." Foss said, "So logic would have dictated the rest of the design. It was a working design.

He postulates that his designs inspired the design of modern Jet Skis.


Here's the video interview on Foss' YouTube channel.


Here are some of the unused designs:










See more of Chris Foss's wonderful portfolio at http://www.chrisfossart.com

Click on the links if you want to see more of Chris Foss' work or Flash Gordon artwork on my blog.

Some images via http://www.mingocity.co.uk

What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen Flash Gordon what do you think of the Rocket Sled?

Official Flash Gordon Synopsis
"Alex Raymond’s famous comic strip blasts to life in the action-packed sci-fi adventure Flash Gordon. When energy waves pull the moon out of orbit, New York Jets quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) unwittingly finds himself heading for the planet Mongo, where—with assistance from beautiful Dale Arden (Melody Anderson)—he’ll take on Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) and rescue humankind. Featuring spectacular thrills, out-of-this-world special effects and unforgettable music by Queen, Flash Gordon is an exciting live-action adaptation of one of the most popular characters of all time!"
Directed by Mike Hodges
Cinematography by Gilbert Taylor
Production Design by Danilo Donati
Starring: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed, Peter Wyngarde
Release date: December 5, 1980
© Copyright 1980 Starling Films, Dino De Laurentiis Company, Universal Pictures. All rights reserved

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About the Author

Maurice Mitchell
Lover of science fiction and art.

4 comments:

  1. Love that rocket sled, the one from the movie! I recently reviewed Jodorowsky's Dune, an awesome documentary that interviews Chris Foss, he loved working for Jodorowsky all those years ago and has some wonderfull anecdotes he shares, highly recommend it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome find. I really like how much work they put into it

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cool art! I love the amount redesign that goes into the concept art - it makes me feel a bit better about my multiple outline and multiple draft fiction projects. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, this really is the find of the day! Love Chris Foss... some of those concepts would be fantastic in something like a Fireball XL5 movie, but are completely wrong for Flash Gordon.
    What a gorgeous looking picture that is, to this day one of my favourite fantasy films ever.

    ReplyDelete

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