CAPTURING THE EVOLUTION OF FILM DESIGN

In light of the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) design enthusiasts and film buffs might enjoy today’s post which features “Designs On FIlm: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction” – a 384-page book by author, interior decorator and cinema style blogger Cathy Whitlock. 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, offer a vision of the future or evoke the realities of a distant era.

Published in 2010 the book traces the history of motion picture sets and interiors from early 20th century silent movies to 21st century sci-fi films. In the book, while the author Whitlock wholly celebrates the usual western-industry giants such as MGM’s Deco and Modernist master Cedric Gibbons (who also designed the Oscar statuette), she also gives props to lesser-known names: British designer Ken Adam, who helmed the Mod look of 1960s James Bond films and William Creber, who designed the “Towering Inferno” skyscraper and took inspiration from Turkish rock formations to create the primal architecture in “Planet of The Apes.”

According to reviews, the book is both anecdote-laden and informative and is a collector’s gem with images plenty of archival photographs and architectural renderings, such as a Carey Odell illustration for the 1937 film “Lost Horizon”.

Through an engaging narrative the book illuminates the often under celebrated role of the production designer in the creation of the most memorable moments in film history.

Whitlock narrates the evolving story of art direction over the course of a century—from the massive Roman architecture of Cleopatra to Mrs. Robinson’s suburban lair in The Graduate to “Blade Runner,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Chinatown”, “L.A. Confidential”, Sofia Coppola’s design work in “Marie Antoinette” and the digital CGI wonders of Avatar’s Pandora.

If we were to collate a similar compendium for the Middle East or Arabian film industry what great productions do you think would be featured?