THE sheer terror as a dinosaur, fearsome teeth on show, bares down on its defenceless victim – it could only be a scene straight from blockbuster movie Jurassic Park.
And the uplifting moment when Gene Kelly, rain lashing down and with a smile on his face, chases away the incessant downpour by swinging from a lamppost, of course is instantly recognisable as movie favourite Singin’ in the Rain.
A tiger and a man bobbing along together on a boat . . . five blokes lined up for a police identity parade . . . a boxer standing proud, saluting the crowd at the top of a very long set of steps . . . all much-loved scenes from the world of film.
And now they, along with dozens of other classic moments in cinema history, have been paused and recreated, using, of all things, the humble Lego brick.
Talented Newhaven-based Lego artist Warren Elsmore has taken 60 familiar moments from some of the most famous movies ever made and given them the Lego Minifigure treatment, turning scenes from early cinema to the modern day film world into toy box brick works of art.
They include that spine-tingling shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho – slightly less nightmarish when screaming star Janet Leigh is a Lego figure – and the famous poster for Jaws, showing a shark rising from the depths to dine on an unsuspecting woman swimmer splashing along in a sea of Lego stud “bubbles”.
From the Blues Brothers to Dirty Dancing, The Godfather to Citizen Kane, Life of Pi to Titanic, each has been given a new, sideways look for his new book, Brick Flicks.
Artist Warren – whose previous book Brick City: Lego for Grown Ups features dozens of famous buildings laboriously recreated using Lego – was inspired to take the humble building brick’s status as one of the world’s best loved toys and combine it with iconic characters and scenes from the movie world following the remarkable success of last year’s The Lego Movie.
Working with specialist artists who helped create customised Minifigures to reflect each movie’s key characters, Warren also developed clever backdrops and lighting to make each film scene instantly and easily recognisable.
Warren, 37, is among the country’s leading AFOL – short for Adult Fan of Lego – who turned his childhood hobby of tinkering with Lego bricks into a business, taking corporate commissions for his Lego building skills.
He is also a regular at international conventions and conferences, in demand for his rapid-fire ability to create impressive freehand Lego structures in minutes.
But it’s his scores of stunning models built using the hugely popular bricks – among them an intricately detailed version of London’s St Pancreas Station made using 180,000 bricks, and models of the Forth Bridge, the Olympic Park in London and, one of the most challenging because of its circular shape, Rome’s Coliseum – that have attracted massive interest.
Indeed, a touring Brick City exhibition of some favourite structures which appear in his last book has been seen by more than 160,000 people since it opened last November, while a second exhibition, Brick Wonders, is expected to generate huge interest when it opens in Paisley next month.
While his models of famous landmarks have given him a chance to show off his architectural skills, the latest film scene models showcase Lego’s traditional fun element.
However it soon emerged that not all film scenes are quite as we think. “We had a few iconic film scenes in our mind,” explains Warren, who works from a small studio on a cobbled Newhaven street. “But when we watched the actual film, it turned out the scenes weren’t there. They were really images we had in our heads from posters or publicity shots. It was interesting how often that happened.”
While Caroline and Nick Savage of Minifigs.me created the characters, Warren found one of the toughest elements of the task was simply choosing which films to feature. “The shortlist of films included 100 movies,” he says. “The long list was double that.
“We’ve ended up with films which go from Laurel & Hardy, black and white, to colour – all different genres.
“Each brought its own challenges, all the characters had to have the right tops, right hairstyles, right lighting,” he adds.
“Lego models have a certain tongue-in-cheek charm that is part of the essence of a toy. While recreating my favourite movie scenes, I’ve tried to keep that sense of humour running throughout.
“The terrifying movie poster from Jaws, for instance, is that little less frightening when the shark is a Lego element!” he laughs.
n Brick Flicks by Warren Elsmore is published by Mitchell Beazley, price £10 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk), on sale from Monday, October 6. Photography by Warren Elsmore.