Den of Geek has made a list of the best movie special effects shots of all time — and the worst.
Special effects go back to the very beginning of film. The first great genius of special effects was George Melies, a stage magician. He was the one who figured out that he could make people appear and disappear by stopping the camera. His film “A Trip to the Moon” is still filled with charm. The rocket ship smashes into the face of the man in the moon. His moon creatures are delightfully acrobatic. The explorers come back to earth by just jumping off!
I visited the German museum of film in Frankfurt and learned that the German word for special effects is “filmtricks.” It has little to do with resources or technology — the special effects in the original 1933 “King Kong” hold up well more than 80 years later, and I think the best special effects of 2008 were in “Iron Man,” where they were almost entirely mechanical and not computer-generated. Just like everything else about the movies, it is the humans who make the difference, not the machines or the money.
Thanks to iorek for the excellent link!