Top 10 inanimate objects in film

As dad took his fists to his printer the other day, an event which marked the end of a long and tumultuous relationship between man and machine, it got me thinking – what are the best inanimate objects of the silver screen? How has their relationship fared with man in movie history? Whether a handy systematic plot device, or the excuse for a damn good chuckle, the importance of bric-a-brac in cinema is often overlooked. That is until it received its own Top Ten – right here, right now.

10. The hammer in Thor

In at number 10 is the inspiration behind this whole warbling of unintelligible rubbish – the hammer. Mythically referred to as Mjolnir (which when translated into bad-ass means ‘the crusher’) this hammer is the source of Thor’s almighty thunderific powers. It literally has the power to squash mountains. This inanimate object is basically as potent as they come and Norse god or no Norse god, hammers are always scary. Who here has ever wielded a hammer and not injured themselves/others around them?

9. The phone-booth in Anchorman

You know what I’m talking about – “I’m in a glass case of emotion”. When the poorly sewn and stuffed stunt double of Ron Burgundy’s dog, Baxter, is kicked off a bridge, the anchorman is distraught. Wailing and melodramatic sadness follow when Ron takes refuge in a phone-booth and makes a call to his colleague Brian Fantana. Possibly the best fake-crying scene in movie history – inner turmoil has never looked so good.

8. The bottle in In Bruges

As we all know, a bottle is a deadly weapon. According to hit-man Ray’s (Colin Farrell) philosophy it’s a no-holds-barred attitude if someone comes at you with one. Expect stuff to get nasty – as we see in this film when Ray takes self-defence to a new morally-ambiguous level, head-butting a woman unconscious. He also happens to be on a date. With a woman. Note to everything male: this does not go down well – ever. Don’t let the film fool you.

7. The poker chips in Casino Royale

If cat-stroking wasn’t enough for Bond villains, they had to have another creepy habit. This time in 2006’s Daniel Craig debut, it was the poker chips that took on the malevolent vibe. Sported by evil-doer Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), his impressive little three chip trick made for a handy tell that Mr Bond could read like a kids’ book. An asthmatic, racially-ambiguous but nonetheless easy-reading kids’ book.

6. The gold medallion in Pirates of the Caribbean (the good one)

Once upon a time, far away across the deepest oceans, there was a good Pirates of the Caribbean film. The Curse of the Black Pearl took Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his gang to multi-million dollar fame, and that curse was all down to the inanimate gold medallion. Stowed away by Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and hunted down by all the pirates across the land, anyone who pinched a piece of this piratical bling turned all dead inside. The showdown would have been nothing if Cap’n Jack hadn’t used it to his sly advantage – and all those moon-light-spot-lights would have been a horrid waste of CGI.

5. The rope in Rope

One of Hitchcock’s most ambitious movie-making endeavours, Rope stars the iconic James Stewart alongside the late Farley Granger in a psychotic student prank. Filmed as one continuous shot using a series of long takes, it all starts with the eponymous rope. Two men decide to murder a fellow student by strangling him with, frankly, a flimsy bit of cord and hide his body in a big wooden chest. They then invite around everyone they know for a dinner party (naturally) and so the evening begins to unfold. This was a big moment for inanimate objects – finally a piece of rope was awarded its own biopic. As for the sequel Twine – did it ever see the light of day? I’m a-frayed knot (sorry).

4. The knife in 127 Hours

Time to admit it, all we really wanted to see in Danny Boyle’s film was the arm-hacking scene. I for one think it lived up to expectations and it wouldn’t have been possible without that dull, blunt knife. The Swiss army knife got a brief cameo in the film’s opening, but it was all about that useless second-rate thing when it came to the climax. Nevertheless, it rose up to become the hero of the movie, of Ralston’s life and perhaps even the world.

3. The disc in Burn After Reading

Found by kooky caretaker Manolo, this disc becomes the source for one big messy misunderstanding. Two gym workers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) then attempt to sell the ‘classified’ information to some high-end spies. The story unfolds quicker than you can say ‘Joel and Ethan – you’ve done it again’ and soon the disc becomes as irrelevant as my left shoe. A dark and comic anti-spy film that frankly should be a lesson in data protection to us all.

2. The cricket bat in Shaun of the Dead

Cricket’s boring – fact. Except when it’s combined with some zombie smashing – then it gets interesting. When Simon Pegg flaunts his skills à la Kevin Pietersen (that’s a real life cricketer) in Shaun of the Dead, it marks the rejection of the conventional baseball bat and the adoption of something a bit more British. Pip-pip.

1. The blanket in It Happened One Night

These are the iconic walls of Jericho. Set up by Peter Warne (Clark Gable) on his first thoroughly unsexy night with spoilt rich kid, Ellie (Claudette Colbert), this practical blanket over a washing line trick is as impenetrable as a force-field. Well, that is until the little ragamuffins fall in love and decide that getting their sexy on is what they want after all. Who’da thunk it?

If we have left out any all-important inanimate cinematic objects – let us know in the usual fashion.

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