Creative Arts Book of the Week 26/10/15
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction by Cathy Whitlock and The Art Directors Guild
Any book that has a film still from The Wizard of Oz is fine by me. Being a child at heart I am always drawn to fairy tales and alternative worlds which is why when I saw this new book on the display rack I knew I had to borrow it. It has a timeline running through so each chapter chronicles a decade of film production. It starts with the Silent Era and the Twenties and ends with the Millennium – although this is certainly not the end of creative film production as we move into the digital hi-tech world of advanced special effects.
Each chapter is packed full of memorable images. If you are a lover of the classic Broadway musicals you can probably visualise the over-the-top, white-on-white, high-gloss interiors through which Fred Astaire danced in Top Hat. And in 1993, the lavish and opulent drawing rooms of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence.
The 1970s brought Star Wars: not just a motion picture but a permanent icon in American pop culture. And of course Star Wars films are still being made, such is the demand from sci-fi movie fans. The Force Awakens hits UK cinemas on 17th December (courtesy of Disney). Box office analysts are already predicting it will beat Avatar in box office sales! Not to mention the lucrative Disney/Star Wars branding strategy. The original Star Wars film series was said to be influenced by George Lucas’s fascination with the Flash Gordon serials of his childhood. Designed by production designer John Barry, the films redefined the science fiction genre by incorporating landmark technology that wowed audiences and has provided a blueprint for hi-tech advances over the past four decades. And those remote desert communities in faraway galaxies? Well they are preserved and now provide a lifeline for the Tunisian tourism economy. Been there, done that!
If you are interested in the psychology of film cults see some of these books in the library on Fandom.
Designs on Film declares that “through the use of film design—called both art direction and production design in the film industry—movies can transport us to new worlds of luxury, highlight the ornament of the everyday, offer a vision of the future, or evoke the realities of a distant era. Drawing on insights from the most prominent Hollywood production designers and the Art Directs Guild, Cathy Whitlock delves into the detailed process of how sets are imagined, drawn, built and decorated.”
This book is for film lovers, movie buffs and anyone looking to draw inspiration for interior design and architecture from blockbuster Hollywood film sets. Cathy Whitlock lifts the curtain on movie magic and celebrates the many ways in which art direction and set design allow us to lose ourselves in the diverse worlds showcased on the big screen.
Find more books in the library catalogue on film production and design here. For electronic resources look on the My Subject pages under Film/Recommended sources. Don’t forget Box of Broadcasts (BoB) for everything on terrestrial television since 2007! This library guide tells you how to use it.
Farewell until next time and may the Force be with you!