Rolling Ball Sculptures, both desktop and 6ft high are featured in the 2007 Anthony Hopkins movie “Fracture.” These elaborate rolling ball machines serve as emotional metaphors for the character of Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) and the story, symbolic of the many complicated and cunning plot twists to come in this clever up-to-the-minute suspense thriller.
Anthony Hopkins plays Ted Crawford in the movie ‘Fracture’, a wealthy L.A. aeronautical engineer, a precise, careful man who builds these rolling ball sculptures for entertainment. In the lounge of his smart designer house is one such rolling ball sculpture – known also as kinetic art (sculptures that have movement), approx 6ft high by 6ft wide with shiny metallic tracks and carved wooden wheels, where small glass balls skitter and roll in an elaborately choreographed dance – a beautiful piece of accuracyn machinery and emotional art.
The machines are also known as ‘Rubes’, originally presented by the famous cartoonist and engineer Rube Goldberg, ‘complicate devices that perform simple responsibilities in indirect, convoluted ways’. It is difficult for a writer to describe these sculptures – they are whimsical, not only functional but very visual with all the workings on characterize.
The writer of the ‘Fracture’ movie came upon the idea of using a rolling ball machine in the movie ‘Fracture’ whilst playing with his son who likes marble mazes. The marbles roll by a labyrinth of confusing tracks only to come out in unexpected places.
The movie writer appointed Mark Bischof, a Dutch artist, to advise and supervise the special effects team who constructed the rolling ball sculptures for ‘Fracture’. Bischof had been working on kinetic art for over 10 years and he designs the sculptures to characterize the slow release of energy of a guided ball along metal tracks. He uses track switching mechanisms, loops, spirals, drop-trough and other devices to demonstrate various aspects of this energy – the sculptures are enthralling.
The writer Gers, said “It’s always best when you can find an external sign to show the inner person (talking of Ted Crawford, Anthony Hopkins) but when I wrote the use, I never really imagined the complicate machine they would have to build.”
Several configurations of Bischoff’s designs were built on set. Anderson, the special effects director and his team were honored and excited to step outside the normal vicinity of their duties of pyrotechnics, explosives and mechanical effects to build the 8-foot sculpture along with a same-size “stunt double” version. Together they designed the kinetic brass sculpture and its wooden base to compliment the dynamic architecture of Crawford’s rare house.
The large sculpture measures 8 feet high x 8 feet wide x 2 feet thorough and uses two 12-volt electrical motors operated via far away control, weighing about 250 pounds. The manual desktop version is about 14 inches x 32 inches x 12 inches wide.