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intrepidium's avatar

Animals used in movies - how do producers ensure they're not harmed?

Asked by intrepidium (1215 points ) July 31st, 2011

I was watching a re-run of the Last Samurai last night and was fascinated by all those battle scene sequences where war horses were shown being ridden at high speed by actors in full costume and made to fall as if shot or injured i.e. rolling all over, falling on top of people or clashing into other horses etc. How do they ensure that horses weren’t actually injured in a movie production? And even if they weren’t physically hurt, those stunts must be pretty stressful and scary for the animals, right? Wouldn’t the PETA folks be all over them?

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5 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Here is your answer! Interesting question with an interesting answer!

intrepidium's avatar

That works well with horses (and dogs) that are smart and trainable – wonder how they manage it with less easily trainable or cooperative animals. Then again I don’t recall any movie involving cats doing stunts that might get them hurt…

And presumably in other movies with hunting scenes e.g grouse or geese shooting where it looks like birds are really getting killed, filming could only be done during hunting season or with special permits huh?

crisw's avatar

The American Humane Association has a voluntary program to monitor movie sets for animal cruelty, and issues movie ratings based on the presence or absence of cruelty. Unfortunately, some movies still involve considerable cruelty.

Glow's avatar

There is always a trainer on set with the animals. Thing with horses is that they are extremely powerful creatures and what would look painful to us is actually just fine for them. Also, what you see in the movie is not actually how it plays out. Each scene was done from different angles and filmed dozens of times for a few seconds each. They also use computer affects to make things look messier and to add others into the scene who were actually not really there. Movie magic is great stuff sometimes.

lifeflame's avatar

I agree. The horse stunts look quite scary. But this article on the horse stunts used in that movie is quite detailed and interesting.

“In addition to the live horses, production had two very detailed and agile animatronic horses made for a thrilling sequence that appears to put two horses in jeopardy. When the editing team spliced together the animatronic and real animals to create the sequence, movie magic delivers images of peril without harming the live animals. The props department also created a small team of prosthetic stuffed horses to simulate those animals killed in battle.”

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