In Hollywood, it’s the props—namely, the guns—that make the man. Imagine James Bond without his silenced Walther PPK pistol. You can’t. John Wayne’s gunslinging persona was forged with a Winchester Model 1892 rifle. And Han just isn’t Han without his trusty, always-shoots-first DL-44 blaster at his side.
Italian art director Federico Mauro has cataloged all of movie history’s most memorable guns, real and fictional. His visual dictionary of “Famous Guns” unfolds in cinematic fashion, mixing real-life firearms like John Dillinger’s tommy gun with colorful sci-fi weaponry, such as the Green Hornet’s gas gun and Ellen Ripley’s seriously awesome M41A Pulse Rifle from Alien.
For Mauro, who’s been in the Italian film industry for over a decade, the project is just one of a larger series that aims to distill pop culture into its most iconic ephemera. His “Famous Things” casts a wide net over movies, music, art, and pop that drags up tons of quasi-cultural artifacts, ranging from Woody Allen’s trademark glasses to Chuck Berry’s fire-red guitar to Marty McFly’s classic Nike high-tops. “The guns," he tells Co.Design, “were particularly interesting because they are a mutable object and the design is very versatile.”
All of the props were found using Google Image search. That was only half of the exhaustive process; he then had to format all of the photographs, editing out backgrounds or imperfections to isolate the pieces. Mauro drops them onto a white frame, whose corners are slightly dimmed by a receding shadow.
“Throughout popular culture, we have come to associate specific objects, things, wear, looks, and styles with certain people,” Mauro explains. “There’s an iconic legacy between an object and a famous person, be it real or imaginary.”
He acknowledges that the idea to make a “simple and immediate” pictorial lexicon owes a lot to the minimalist web craze, which privileges the figurative avatar over other forms of graphic representation. “The idea I think is in line with many creations on the Web that have the same approach: a synthetic and minimal iconic [form] of a movie and/or character.”
Scan through the slide show to see all of the guns, including a few that aren’t guns at all, like the Ghostbusters’ proton pack and Anton Chigurh’s makeshift killing machine from No Country for Old Men. Mauro’s favorite piece? Ted Pike’s gun from David Cronenberg’s Existenz. I would have gone with Solo.