Everyone loves a good movie, right?
If you were to think of your favourite film now you'd more than likely be able to tell me who starred in it, who directed it and if you're anything like me, probably a good deal of the soundtrack! Extras you may be able to remember their faces or if a certain one had a funny minor role and you may be able to remember obscure props.. but do you remember seeing any fluid power components?
I know, I know.. for those of you not in the industry you're probably asking yourselves "Why on earth would I remember that?" and to be fair, even people in the fluid power industry may not necessarily have such an anal eye for attention to detail as myself (I was watching CSI once and my friend didn't appreciate me pointing out that the investigator's Canon DSLR camera "wouldn't sound like that"..).
This list helps then with some examples of when either hydraulics or pneumatics starred on the big screen... for, y'know, if you're in a pub quiz or something!
The Terminator - terminated by hydraulics
"I'm a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told she was here. Could I see her please?"
I've got to admit, I saw Terminator 2 before I saw the first.. mainly because the original was an 18+ movie and I was either 10 or 11 when seeing the second, which was a slightly lesser rated 15!
The plot of a time travelling cyborg sent back to 1984 who has been sent by an artificial intelligence defence network, with the mission to kill the mother of the future leader who leads the rebellion against the network is both conceptually heavy and intriguing; if for some reason you haven't seen it in the 21 years of its existence I highly recommend it!
"So where does Fluid Power come in?" I hear you ask: well it was Hydraulics that ultimately "terminated" the terminator... In the final scenes you see Arnold Schwarzeneggar's skin melted off to reveal the T-800's exoskeleton; which relentlessly chases Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese through a nondescript factory. After surviving a pipe bomb/ grenade type thing (I'm foggy on the details) the now legless cybog drags itself after Sarah who managed to it lure into a Hydraulic Press which, after activating, leaves the Terminator as nothing more than metaphorical gum on the press' shoe; go Hydraulics!
Anyone order a Terminator sandwich?
Casino Royale - Parkour chase
"I'm sorry, that last hand... nearly killed me."
Casino Royale was Daniel Craig's debut as the 00 agent and was set as a prequel/ beginning of Bond's story (The transition from Pierce Brosnan would have been a bit weird else!). The film sees the rough-cut agent nearly get fired from Mi6 and then later play in an extremely high stakes poker match... way before that though is the impressive parkour scene, which sees Bond chasing Bomb maker Mollaka through a construction yard and ultimately winds up in the African Embassy.
Though not a pivotal role as in The Terminator, the construction yard is filled with hydraulics: the diggers, the cranes... it's a hydraulic play ground!
Jurassic Park - When hydraulics ruled the earth...
Duh duhh, du duhh, duh nuh nuhh, nuh nuhh nuh nuhh...
Jurassic Park was the quintessential film for me as a kid, as I'm positive it was for most boys in the 90s! The CGI and robotics (albeit ropey in today's standard) made the reptilian stars look so real; It wasn't until about 20 years later however that I discovered I was watching hydraulics in action! I went more in-depth into this in a previous post but the gist of it is that hydraulics gave the robots a lot more "fluid" action (I'm sorry!) where electronics on its own made the movement very jumpy and less believable.
Watch this clip below to see Lex and Tim Murphy being attacked by the hydraulically powered T Rex!
Silent Running - Apparently there is air in space!
Freeman Lowell playing cards with Drones Huey and Dewey.
It was a strruggle to think of any films that featured pneumatics, but in researching for this blog I stumbled across this interesting 70s Sci-Fi film: Silent Running is the story of an American Airline owned spaceship called the "Valley Forge" which has massive bio domes attached that house planet earth's last forests. The spaceship receives commands from earth to blow up the bio domes and return to commerical use which Freeman Lowell, the ship's residential botanist refuses to do. He ends up killing the rest of the crew (the ship was staffed by 4 people) and then stealing the Valley Forge for himself. Upon the ship are maintenance drones who help water the plants etc. which Freeman re-programs to be his companions. I've only watched the trailer but I think I have to give this a watch soon!
Oh yeah, where does pneumatics come into this? The 3 drones: Huey, Dewey and Louis have pneumatic powered arms on the front to hold watering cans... and poker hands.
Aliens - Get a "load" of this!
Ripley face to face with the Alien Queen.
It seems that Fluid Power and Sci-Fi go hand in hand! This is the 3rd entry where Hydraulics have inadvertently played a part in the film; this time in the shape of the possible future of construction machinery! In the 1986 sequel to "Alien" we see the titular fight scene between Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) and the Alien Queen. To even the odds, Ripley battles the Queen using a Caterpillar P5000 Power Loader: a mechanical exoskeleton that features electrical assisted hydraulics, normally used for lifting heavy objects but its unknown secondary USP is its capacity to kick Xenomorph backside! I won't embed the video due to some naughty language (sorry kids!) but I will leave this link here...
A better look at the power loader; check out those hydraulic cylinders under the arms!
So there you go; you now have 5 examples of when Hydraulics and Pneumatics were used in films. Obviously there must be loads more and if you know of any more, I'd love to hear about them! You can rest easy knowing that your industry helped save humanity on multiple occasions...