11 Movie Scenes That You Thought Were CGI But Aren't

By: Bishesh Dhaubhadel  | | 2 Minutes Jul 18, 2021

In today’s day and age, Computer Generated Imagery has become a major tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal. Allowing stories to be told without the monetary, physical, and human restraints, CGI gives both the creator and the viewer a whole new perspective.


But even with such technology at hand, filmmakers like Christpher Nolan still opt for doing it practically for the sake of authenticity in a scene. And with the most outlandish stunts being the ones done practically, you’d never believe they didn’t use CGI!


Don’t believe us?


Here are 11 movie scenes that were (surprisingly) made without CGI.


Spider-Man | Lunch Tray


Who would’ve thought that Tobey Maguire actually had some of Spider-Man’s superhuman agility? Yep, that’s right. This scene in the movie was done IN REAL LIFE.



MJ’s reaction is also as real as it gets when we know the scene took 156 takes to nail.


Charlie & The Chocolate Factory | Army of Squirrels


For a movie with such over the top visual effects and characters, training 40 squirrels to do a movie scene doesn't seem too unbelievable, does it?



The Nut Room Animal trainer Michael Alexander and his team spent 19 weeks training the 40 squirrels to pull off the scene. Adding to the surprise is the fact that they intended to train 100 squirrels but settled for 40 because of their unpredictability.


Inception | Rotating Hallway


Knowing what we know about Christopher Nolan, it makes total sense that he would actually make a rotating Hallway to shoot this disorienting scene in Inception.



Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and his crew built a 100-foot-long hotel corridor to pull off the scene. Eight enormous rings connected to two motors allows it to rotate 360 degrees.


The Dark Knight | Disappearing Pencil


Before you go and puke from the gore, no, the pencil didn’t go inside his eye.



While shooting the scene, Heath Ledger does actually slam the stuntman’s head on the table. But the stuntman is supposed to swipe away the pencil at the last moment to make it look like it actually goes in.


It doesn’t always work out though. Over the 22 takes that the scene took, there were a couple of knockouts. No serious injuries though. 


Interstellar | Corn Field


With all the visually stunning scenes in the movie, you’d never realize that the corn field scene was actually done in real life. Yes, all 500 acres of it.



Who else to go to such extreme lengths for cinema than the one and only Christopher Nolan? Inspired by Zach Snyder actually growing crops for Man of Steel, Nolan planted 500 acres of corn to shoot the scene.


Not to worry though. The corn was sold to make money back for the movie.


Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation | Catching A Plane


We know all too well that Tom Cruise is one to always do his own stunts whenever possible.


Just how much does he want to do himself? Enough to buy the rights to the entire franchise to do his own stunts.



Yes, the entire scene from the moment he clings on to the door to the moment the plane reaches the altitude of 5000 ft, he did it himself. Eight times to be exact.


"I was scared shitless," Cruise admitted. "I want to keep audiences on the edge of their seats."


Blade Runner 2049 | Endless Greenhouse


Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most visually stunning movies that’s come out of hollywood. With the stunning cyberpunk aesthetic throughout the movie, you’d never know the very first scene was shot at a real place.



This shot at the beginning of the movie wasn't computer generated. The scene with greenhouses all the way to the horizon is an actual place called El Ejido, Spain. The 13,000 hectares of greenhouses grow fruits and vegetables, serving all of Europe.


Spectre | Guinness Record Explosion


“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”, are words almost all of us are familiar with. Of course, James Bond never backs off from an opportunity, even when the opportunity is to set a record for the largest explosion in cinema.



The stunt used 8140 litres of fuel and 24 kilograms of explosives, and was all captured in one take.


Where most actors walk away from the explosion, both actors in the scene faced it head on.


Mad Max: Fury Road | Tanker Explosion


Mad Max doesn’t fall behind any other movie in this list when it comes to being visually stunning. CGI or otherwise.



Adding to the amazement from the scale on which the movie was shot is the fact that in the final chase scene in Mad Max: Fury Road, the huge tanker actually blows up. 


Of course, the other vehicles are digitally added in later, but the explosion itself isn’t tampered with in the slightest in post production.


The Dark Knight | Blowing Up A Hospital


If making a pencil disappear into someone’s skull wasn’t enough, The Dark Knight also blew up an entire hospital!



The film crew was allowed to blow up the building as it was already meant to be demolished. Such a coincidence led to one of the most iconic scenes in The Dark Knight franchise.


Adding to the scene is the fact that the scene was also improvised. Yes, the scene where the Joker smacks the trigger after the building doesn’t blow up was entirely improvised by Heath Ledger on-spot when he realized the explosion lagged behind.


Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol | Climbing The Burj Khalifa


Yes, hanging onto the door of a flying plane wasn’t enough for Tom Cruise. He HAD to climb the Burj Khalifa from the outside.



Not just the climb and swing, the film crew also broke 26 windows and drilled the floor for real. With permission from the owners of the tallest building in the world, of course.


The constraints from shooting in IMAX and flying helicopters to shoot it only makes the feat more amazing!


Can you believe these scenes were done practically? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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