How’d They Do That? 3 Memorable Glass Stunts in Cinema History

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Suddenly, the hero makes one unavoidable wrong turn and has to make a split-second decision: should I go straight through that plate glass window, risking serious injury, or do I allow myself to get caught?
No self-respecting action hero turns away from the window challenge. This stunt has become a cinematic cliché, but some films have still played on the overused trick, making it feel fresh or even iconic. Plus, quite a few other movie scenes use glass in equally fascinating ways, creating movie moments that stay with viewers long after the credits roll.Whether you plan to become a Hollywood insider or you simply enjoy taking in movies on the weekend, learning the secrets behind movie glass stunts can help you appreciate these films even more. Peruse our list of movie scenes that prominently feature glass and discover how the filmmakers achieved movie magic.

1. Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times”

Few actors have achieved as prominent a status in the public consciousness as Charlie Chaplin. Although most of his iconic roles are from silent films, his face is instantly recognizable to movie fans, even those born in the last few decades.

One of Chaplin’s most memorable scenes occurs in the movie “Modern Times.” This 1936 comedy features Chaplin as Little Tramp, a man facing the difficulties of a world that’s becoming more and more industrialized. In one scene, Little Tramp visits a department store, puts on roller skates and a blindfold, and begins moving around the room. The stunt? He keeps getting closer and closer to the edge of a balcony.

Even though Chaplin seems to be in peril, in reality, the stunt is a classic example of a glass shot. This filmmaking technique involves painting parts of the setting onto a pane of glass, lining the glass up with the set, and then filming through the glass. In “Modern Times,” the drop-off is only an illusion that exists on glass.

2. Jackie Chan in “Police Story”

Like Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Chan is a huge name in movie history. Chan earned his fame making dozens of martial arts films in the ’70s and ’80sand doing all his own stunts. The 1985 movie “Police Story” inspired an entire film series starring Chan.

One fight scene in the original uses numerous glass stunts. The scene takes place at a shopping mall, and Chan’s character is chasing down and fighting with a villain and his followers. During the action, Chan punches several mirrors, and several characters get shoved through glass displays. At the climactic moment, Chan slides down a 100-foot pole that’s covered in light strings and crashes through a pane of glass.

The scene is visually amazing, but unfortunately, Jackie Chan sustained several injuries while filming it. The lights heated up the pole, leaving him with severe burns on his hands. He also dislocated his pelvis and injured his back during the stunt.

But the glass itself didn’t cause any harm to the star. Filmmakers used sugar glass throughout the scene. Sugar glass isn’t glass at all-it’s just sugar that looks like glass. It breaks very easily but poses much less danger to actors than actual glass. Those qualities made it a popular movie-making trick for decades. Today, breakaway glass is made from special plastics or resins.

3. Matt Damon/Stunt Double in “The Bourne Ultimatum”

Critics and audiences loved the original Jason Bourne trilogy because of its gritty, fast-paced action sequences. Lead actor Matt Damon performed many of his own stunts in the films, but producers sometimes insisted that he use a stunt double, including during a tense sequence of

“The Bourne Ultimatum.”

Bourne is several stories up, racing through residences in pursuit of a villain. Bourne keeps jumping from balcony to balcony, saving the character time and helping him approach the villain with more panache.

After the audience watches him execute this trick several times, the stakes rise. Bourne must now jump from one balcony to another building, passing through a closed window in the process. Damon’s stunt double made the jump-but the glass was all put in later as a computer-generated effect. Ultimately, the scene still achieves the desired result, but it also serves as an example that glass stunts may become less common in future films.

As these films show, moviemakers have found ways to use an ordinary object like glass for dramatic effect. Their innovations make movies more enjoyable for us as audience members, but we still want to encounter safe and reliable glass in our everyday lives. Depend on the experts at Go-Glass whenever you need glass repaired or replaced.

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