VOTD: The Significance & Importance of Movie Props

Pulp Fiction - Christopher Walken

While there are certain movie props such as a lightsaber, a time machine or a briefcase that have become iconic pieces of cinema, it’s easy to forget that movie props are everywhere when we’re looking at any single frame of a motion picture. Sometimes a movie prop is so important that it’s in the title of the film and the driving force of the entire story, as with The Maltese Falcon or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and other times they just add to the authenticity of any given scene.

A new video essay takes a look at the importance of movie props on film, whether they’re big or small, subtle or in your face and how they enhance the characters, story or setting of films across the board. Watch!

Here’s the video essay Why Props Matter from Rishi Kaneria:

As the video states:

Props can be so much more than just objects in your scene. Great can transcend the boundaries of the films they’re in, become legendary icons of cinema and pop culture. They can show the progress of mankind, or reveal the hidden beauty of the world.

It’s incredible to think how much significance can be bestowed on a simple item simply because of the story and symbolism that surrounds it. For example, a sled is just a sled. But in Citizen Kane, a sled means so much more to Charles Foster Kane. The same can be said of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, or any sort of MacGuffin.

Even props that aren’t the object of any character’s desire can instill certain feelings in us, such as the dying plant in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Wilson from Cast Away or the leg lamp in A Christmas Story. But these items are only made significant by the story and characters that surround them and the feelings we come to attach to them.

In the end, this just goes to show you the power of cinema, and how they can make even the most mundane objects an important part of a story, character or setting. What are some of the movie props that have stuck with you over the years?

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