Friday, 23 May 2008
A Potpourri Of Production Design
This post is part of the Production Design Blog-a-thon being hosted at Too Many Projects Film Club.
Production Design - Eugene Roman
Though "Playtime" just about ruined Jacques Tati financially (entire buildings in 'Tativille' were built specifically for the film), it remains an incredible example of bringing a filmmaker's vision to screen through props, sets and lighting.
The shimmering greys of these shots add to the impersonal cold steel-like feeling of the modern buildings.
The restaurant/club where the latter part of the film takes place is a masterpiece of design - not just in the way that it looks, but the way it controls the movement of its characters and guides the many visual jokes. Screencaps don't do it justice because you need to see the flow of movement through it.
Deep Red (1975)
Production Design - Giuseppe Bassan
Set Decoration - Armando Mannini
Say what you will about Dario Argento's films (and you can certainly say a lot both good and bad), they always look great. He's certainly known for fabulous use of colours in his lighting schemes, but I found "Deep Red" had some terrific sets as well - most used to good effect during the "kill" sequences to help heighten the suspense or provide surprises.
The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Production Design - Walter Reinman, Walter Rohrig, Hermann Warm
Set Decoration - Hermann Warm
The standard bearer of German Expressionism, "Caligari" is designed to make everything seem off kilter with it's sharp angles and warped constructions. The tinting in these shots is apparently from the original design of the film.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Art Direction - Bernard Reeves
As fun as many of the late 60s and early 70s "horror" films are, one of the reasons they continue to appeal to so many people is the amazing look and feel they bring with them - take the opening of "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" with the odd orchestra and dance sequence in Phibes' lair...
The rest of the film looks equally great with each set having its own colour palette and slightly askew feel to it.
Songs From The Second Floor (2000)
Production Designer - None listed in IMDB
Speaking of slightly askew...The incredible "Songs From The Second Floor" by Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson contains washed out sets as well as washed out characters (in many ways). There's likely many ways to interpret this beautiful film, but I've always liked to look at it as a vision of purgatory.
Andersson's follow-up film, 2007's "You The Living" is similar in its construction (static shots and washed out colours) and was my favourite film of 2007.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1967)
Art Direction - Robert F. Boyle
Set Decoration - Edward G. Boyle
This musical satire of the Corporate world is not only a lot of fun, but has some great looking office space. The colour schemes match the employees' clothing and keep things bright and cheerful while at the same time large swipes are being taken at the culture of business and what it really takes to climb the Corporate ladder.
Heaven Can Wait (1943)
Art Direction - James Basevi, Leland Fuller
Set Decoration - Thomas Little
From the grand headquarters of Satan in the opening of the film (the first two screencaps) to the overflowing colours and decor of the stately rooms, Ernst Lubitsch's story of a man looking back at his life is a feast for the eyes. Of course, when you have Gene Tierney in your movie, you could really just dispense with sets altogether...
Say Anything (1989)
Production Designer - Mark Mansbridge
Set Decoration - Joe Mitchell
And finally, some set design that doesn't necessarily stand out...As a matter of fact, it's barely noticeable. Which in the case of "Say Anything" is a good thing as nothing gets in the way of the characters and dialog. These are just a couple of examples of things I found that struck me as being quite realistic and not obviously placed in the frame.
That popsicle stick lamp to the left...We had one just like it when I was a kid and the top always leaned to one side just like this one.
That box of Glad wrap over John Cusack's shoulder that is not sitting flat on the top of the fridge, but caught in the gap between wall and fridge.
Those little coloured things in the soapdish at the middle bottom of the frame - it's true that no one actually puts soap there.
The fact that his bed isn't actually made up...