Week 4 Assignment – Compare/Contrast Production Design

Here’s what to do:

From the ten scenes below, select TWO.  Watch each scene carefully, with an eye to describing and analyzing as much as possible the elements of production design.  Take notes as you watch, and watch a second or third time with the sound off so that you can really pay attention to the visual details.  You should be noticing the set design, including the architecture, furniture, props and other details, colours, costumes, makeup and hair.

Once you have done this for two of the clips, write a short essay comparing and contrasting the production design.  In both cases the goal of the film’s design has been to help enunciate the film’s story, characters and theme.  But since the films are different, they will take very different approaches.  If you are observant and thoughtful, there should be plenty to see and plenty to say!

Your finished essay should be a minimum of two pages – 500 words.  Due by the beginning of class, next week.  Deposit a Word.doc in the class Dropbox.  Make sure to put your name on the essay.

Opening scene of The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972).  On the day of his daughter’s wedding, Don Corleone (head of a mafia family) by tradition is not allowed to refuse requests.  He is visited by someone who would like him to take revenge on boys who assaulted his own daughter.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1990) is Tim Burton’s wacky remake of Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).   Much of the film’s fanciful sets were actually built – even the chocolate waterfall – and NOT created using CGI (computer-generated imagery).

The original Alien, first in the long-running series, directed by Ridley Scott in 1979.  The crew discovers that the strange creature they have let aboard their spaceship is unusually dangerous – with acid for blood!  At first it is barely a foot tall, but within hours has grown!  In this scene, we get our first view of the full-sized creature.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968).  In a scene accompanied by Aram Khachaturian’s beautiful Adagio from the Gayane Ballet Suite, we get our first look at the spaceship Discovery, on its way to Jupiter.

Elisa meets the amphibious man, in The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017).

La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016) is a musical in the style of the old Hollywood classics – following two performers as they attempt to “make it” in show biz.

Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s first film was Strictly Ballroom (1992).  Fran and Scott have some flashy new dance moves that they are practicing for the upcoming competition, and are incorporating flamenco “paso doble” steps into their routine.  Fran’s parents are Spanish immigrants, and they are not very impressed.

Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic, The Shining (1980), set all its terrifying action in an isolated, snow-bound hotel called The Overlook, actually interior sets constructed for the film.

Keanu Reeves plays Paul, who has met a beautiful woman on the bus in California.  She is returning home to her family’s winery, and is scared her father will be angry with her because she has gotten pregnant after an ill-fated affair with her professor.  Paul is a complete stranger, but agrees to help her by pretending to be her husband for a day or two.  But pretty soon they are in love for real!

From the highly romantic film A Walk in the Clouds (1995), directed by Mexican-American Alfonso Arau, this scene shows the Mexican-American family doing the traditional grape crushing after the harvest.

One of the all-time most over-the-top romance films, Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003), mixes ten stories about love with its ensemble cast.  In one story, while on a vacation, a British writer, Jamie (Colin Firth), falls in love with a Portuguese maid.  He tries his best to learn Portuguese and then goes back to see her, in this final scene.