A clear plastic bag, a balsa wood sled, a can of Barbasol, and a Poulan 306A chainsaw. Are these the contents of a serial killer’s crawlspace? Possibly. The weirdest trick-or-treat haul ever? Another possibility. But these are also some of the most iconic props in movie history. Jean-Luc Godard famously defined the history of movies as “boys photographing girls,” but maybe the critic turned director missed the mark with that observation. Perhaps inanimate objects, neither boys nor girls, have been the truest movie stars all along. They photograph beautifully, take direction easily, work long hours without complaint, and never ask for more money or higher billing. Finally, these famous props are getting some props of their own thanks to an ingenious Instagram account called Movie Later. Using the titular statue from The Maltese Falcon as its mascot, the account defines itself only in the vaguest terms: “Slices from movies and pieces of cake.” There’s no cake here, at least not yet, but there are plenty of slices from movies. A typical Movie Later entry might focus on, say, the Nokia 8110 cellphone used by Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.
The Instagram account is the work of London-based artist and filmmaker Daniel McKee, who describes Movie Later as “a niche Instagram account that doubles up as a kind of movie art project.” Here one will find an assortment of moviedom’s greatest tchotchkes, toys, totems, and trinkets, each one isolated against a perfectly blank white backdrop. There is no eye-catching scenery here to distract the viewer, nor are there any bothersome actors jockeying for camera time. No, the props have this account all to themselves. The entire point of Movie Later is to call attention to the importance that certain objects, lifeless though they may be, have played in movie history. Remember that fateful quarter, the one that decided whether people lived or died, in No Country For Old Men?
And that Raquel Welch poster from The Shawshank Redemption sure came in handy.
If only unwittingly, an object might even be the catalyst for the plot of an entire film, like the Tecsonic Super Jumbo J-1 boombox from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.
For anyone who feels that movies would be way better if it weren’t for all those pesky people in them, Movie Later is a little slice of desolate, depopulated heaven.