It’s very easy to take the world for granted. Sometimes, the best way to see life in all its beauty and strangeness is to imagine how one is seeing it for the first time. This is a live perspective of poor thingsThe new film from surrealist Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos.
Based on Alisdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, poor things Centered around a young Victorian woman named Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) whose existence is a result of mad scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) implanting the brain of an unborn fetus into the body of a recently deceased adult woman. the result is. Since Bella is seeing everything for the first time, the cinematic world around her has to vibrate with the excitement of discovery. Lanthimos realized that the best way to showcase his unique way of seeing things would be to create a 2023 version of an old-fashioned Hollywood studio film.
The Oscar nominee said, “From the beginning I thought we should build everything in the studio, even the exteriors, so we had complete control over how everything looked.” Favorite And prawn fish EW tells. “Using very old technology and aesthetics, with the technology that we have available to us now, seems to be the best approach.”
The first thing Bella goes to after leaving Baxter’s laboratory is Lisbon. Instead of shooting on location in Portugal, Lanthimos’ production created a fantastical dream version of an entirely European city on set, something that might resemble a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Production designer James Price comments: “We have to summarize the best bits of what is essentially a theme park-sized set.”
He also made an important subtraction. In real life, Lisbon is known for its prevalence of blue tiles that resonate beautifully with the nearby sea. poor things The blue color was removed entirely from Lisbon’s version, making the city seem at once familiar and alien. The rest of the film also follows a similar visual approach.
Not quite the lair of a mad scientist
Despite the vibrant colors of the outside world, poor things It begins in black and white, reflecting Bella’s early infantile perspective. The stylistic choice was a surprise to Price and fellow production designer Shona Heath, who created Baxter’s home and laboratory as if it were meant to be seen in full color.
Cinematographer Robbie Ryan recalls the 30-minute black-and-white opening, “It was a conscious decision that Yorgos took quite late in the preparation stage.” “The production design team was like, ‘What?!’ There’s a beautiful mint green bedroom that really looks gorgeous, and everyone is a little sad that this color never made it into the final movie.
but that’s how it worked poor things, Lanthimos set out his artistic vision and then empowered his team of creatives – including former collaborators like Ryan and hair/makeup designer Nadia Stacey – to flesh out various ideas until the director got what he wanted. To test. Even though the final decisions were not what the team members expected, the final decisions still made sense in the context of the film.
“Yorgos turned it on its head,” says Heath, who recalls that the original plan was also to shoot the final scenes in black and white. “But really, in the end, the details were there. Yorgos was always very clear that he wanted deep, maximum textures and really extreme details. So, I think he had an idea that he wanted it more black and white than we thought, but we didn’t know.”
monster movie classics
It’s also nice to have the opening scenes in black and white. poor things Echoing classic Universal horror films like frankenstein, which feels like an obvious reference point. Dafoe’s Baxter looks like a mash-up of the titular scientist and Boris Karloff’s monster. But James Whale’s masterpieces are much more difficult to imitate than they appear; Ryan recalls trying to replicate the cracking energy effect bride of frankenstein, It can only be pointed out that contemporary lighting crews are not allowed to transmit so much voltage these days. In fact, it was a more modern monster movie that provided a model for poor things,
“What we often mentioned was Bram Stoker’s Dracula” says Ryan. “Yorgos leaned toward that because he used a lot of physical effects and in-camera effects: miniatures, forced perspective and process projections. It has that same kind of wild abandon. poor things “Is.”
Of all the setpieces poor things, none so close to the arsenal of techniques used as the cruise ship in Francis Ford Coppola’s practical vampire film that takes Bella (under the watchful eyes of her boyfriend, Mark Ruffalo’s Duncan Wedderburn) from Lisbon to Paris. The ship itself was a 10-foot miniature ship, around which Price and Heath used LED screens to create colorful skies and realistic smoke. The deck and room sets were built with optical illusions and visual details to make them appear larger than they actually were.
“It became an assembly line,” says Price. “We worked out how to rationalize every component and create them in a factory-like setting that could be pre-painted and then stuck on the walls. There was a fantastic painting on the side of the bar that gives the wrong perspective. “It looks good on camera, like the boat goes through those doors, but it doesn’t.”
The ship’s decoration is also meant to feel “silly and a little ostentatious”, according to Heath. “It was funny that Duncan had locked Bella in a box and forced her onto the ship. So, there were a lot of references to caged animals. All the paintings had animals attacking each other.”
decorate the part
Most of Bella’s Struggles Throughout Time poor things There’s an escape from the social norms that limited many women during the Victorian era, and that energy comes through in their costumes. Despite the elaborate, beautiful nature of the clothes, their looks are often ridiculously incomplete.
“Once she gets to Lisbon, there’s this idea that she no longer has a guardian, she’s alone,” says costume designer Holly Waddington. “So, she often wears things that don’t really go together. She walks out on the streets of Lisbon wearing just a pair of shorts, but again with the upper part of her dress intact. “It was quite playful and hopefully fun.”
Victorian era fashion was a complex enterprise, especially for women. There were many types of clothing that were never designed to be visible beneath multiple layers of shapewear. Bella, as a newly formed being, has not had those protocols ingrained in her mind for years. In any case, Waddington says, “she wouldn’t understand the logic of it, it would seem pointless.”
Same is the case with makeup. Lanthimos already tries to minimize the use of makeup in his films; His previous film, Favorite, hardly utilizes any of its trio of Oscar-nominated female leads. He was perfect for Bella.
“Yorgos wants to see the skin and potential imperfections, he really wants to see the person,” says Stacey. “As a hair and makeup designer it’s really exciting to pull off clothes like this.”
locks of love
Stacey left Bella’s hair open, which also defied Victorian tradition with its length. The development of long black hair (a major visual change for the usually blonde or red-haired Stone) marks Bella’s entire evolution. poor things,
“I kept changing the length of it all the way, until we got to Paris, when it reached almost floor-length,” says Stacey. “It’s a real indicator of who Bella is, because she’s not bound by societal norms. At that time, women’s hair would not have been open and loose like this. “It would not be appropriate to do this.”
But as with all good things poor things It had to end. Stacey remembers well what it felt like when there was no more work to do on the film. “I absolutely fell in love with Bella,” says Stacey. “On the last day, we cut Emma’s hair. When all the hair fell on the floor, we cried because it felt as if Bella was gone. But I’m proud of it all because every single character, no matter how much screen time they have, has a huge idea behind them. The whole thing had to be, ‘Why are they here?’ What do they look like? What’s the back story?”
See all the world-building ideas and visual details when on screen poor things Will be released in theaters on December 8.
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