takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour of The Black Hole
The mammoth interiors of the spacecraft in Disney’s The Black Hole are mind-boggling in their intricate detail. On screen The Cygnus is a veritable space-faring world, a breathtaking sight that is like nothing seen before in a science fiction film. Constructed of a fretwork of naked girders, it is so vast that is brings to mind the limitless underground Krell labs of Forbidden Planet, rather than the smaller (but still huge) crafts of Star Trek and Alien.
The illusion is so effective that it would appear that Disney has the largest indoor sound stages in the world. The truth is that the bewildering interiors aren't sets at all; they are actually matte paintings, the handiwork of special effects director Peter Ellenshaw, who is perhaps the most gifted matte artist in history.
Ellenshaw, still trim and vital at 67, has been creating movie make-believe for 45 years. Among his credits are the backgrounds for Things to Game (1936), Stairway to Heaven (1946) and the burning of ancient Rome for Qua Vadis (1950). An Englishman, Ellenshaw was hired by Disney in 1948 for Treasure Island, beginning a relationship that has proved remarkably durable.