Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Devils

(Ken Russell, 1971)

Based on a true story, The Devils presents  imagery that is difficult and offensive. It presents a very stylised view of France in the 1700's, with looming white architecture, smooth and clinical. It illustrates the old fashioned device of chaos within the hierarchy, by presenting a threat to someone high up, in this case accusing a deeply catholic character of being the devil. It's a very interesting story, particularly now, as it resonates with the current media “trend” that seems to be the paedophilia witch hunt that is so present in today's news. 

8 ½

Federico Fellini, 1963.

The narrative is essentially about a blocked film director in his struggle for creativity, it blurs the lines between reality, inner turmoil and fantasy, with chaos being the fundamental base for the storyline. It is set in black and white and intentionally dubbed, with intentionally peculiar characters. People within the cast have evidently been selected specifically for their odd looks. There is a sense of claustrophobia and being trapped; anxiety. The lines between truth, love and age are blurred, mixed with fantasy and presented in a very theatrical way, much like a circus. The soundtrack sounds particularly familiar (to a modern audience).


(David Lynch, 1977)

The dystopian, nightmare of inner self, showing what many believe to be the protagonist's inner turmoil. Atmosphere is created effectively via lighting and really well considered composition; every frame could be a photograph. Strong use of shadowing and light to create harsh surroundings and nightmare-like imagery.


(John Waters, 1988)

Classically kitsch and very much “John Waters”, everybody knows the story of Hairspray. It was retro, even in the eighties, and very much bad taste design-wise, but in such a way that, you're very away that it's trying to be trash. Everything within the design is very OTT, similar to a pantomime style, in that it's overtly obvious. It uses this image as a device of raising serious issues like race and sexuality, but does it in a very tongue in cheek way.

One From The Heart

(Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)

One From The Heart is very much a designers film. All of it's sets were custom built indoors with only one small scene being actually filmed in the open air. Set in Las Vegas, it places both of the main characters amid their idealist fantasies of romance, only for them to discover that their ideology of their dream partner is as fake and constructed as the set in which the whole thing occurs. As each character slumps back to their normality (being together as a couple for whom the romance has disappeared) it feels tragically poetic.


(Carlos Saura, 1983)

“Love is terrible and jealousy is treacherous”.
A flamenco twist on “the world's most famous opera,” Carmen is set within a Spanish flamenco school, much like a mirror within a mirror. The lighting, which is very theatrical, plays a key part in that, in some scenes it's poor so that it may accentuate the bags under the women's eyes, or in other cases, too harsh, so as to blur the features of the characters' faces. In the scene where two performers dance with canes, their shadows cast against the plain white walls, there is a really nice dynamic between their movement and the representation of their shadows, which on occasion move separately from the figures casting them.

Walk The Line

(James Mangold, 2005)

The establishing shot is from a Californian prison watch tower, (later determined to be Folsom) set in 1968. In the foreground, crows pick at scraps. The pace then quickly changes and follows the beat of the music as it rapidly passes by the bars of the cells, as feet rush in the same direction. Hands clap and feet stomp in time to the beat, creating a heartbeat-like frenzy of sound and movement.

Memphis, Tennesse, 1955. The Rock & Roll recording studio that emotes the complete opposite of a Rock & Roll atmosphere; boring and dull. Off-white walls, white blinds and grey furnishings. The three performers each dressed in black suits with their brown instruments. Contrasting hugely to this is the later scene, set in Texas, 1955. The music tour emotes colour and noise, liveliness and free-spirit. Cash's band now each donning white suits and slick dark hair. The diner is typically fifties Americana, with wood panelled walls and units painted opel green. The surfaces are polished and bright white, contrasting with the brown wooden wall shelves. The walls are embellished with a variety of mismatched picture frames and the curtains are typically red and white checked, hung above and below the windows. The table tops match the polished white surface of the counter, at which June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) sits in her very feminine, red and white flower dress, dark hair and cherry red lips.