Architecture for the Screen: A Critical Study of Set Design in Hollywood's Golden Age

Overview

Most of us have never found ourselves trapped inside a burning skyscraper or entombed within an Egyptian pyramid—but we probably have some idea of what it would be like because of their portrayal on screen. The movies have overcome the constraints of time and place by bringing us images of diverse and otherwise unfamiliar settings.

This work covers the many applications of art and architecture appearing in the movies produced in Hollywood from the very beginning until the ...

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Overview

Most of us have never found ourselves trapped inside a burning skyscraper or entombed within an Egyptian pyramid—but we probably have some idea of what it would be like because of their portrayal on screen. The movies have overcome the constraints of time and place by bringing us images of diverse and otherwise unfamiliar settings.

This work covers the many applications of art and architecture appearing in the movies produced in Hollywood from the very beginning until the fifties. The first chapters deal with the process of design, construction, physical characteristics and immediate functions of a wide variety of architectural sets. The remaining chapters examine the great number of styles shown in those movies and take the reader up to the final triumph of modernist architecture in the aftermath of the Second World War.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
fascinating...highly recommended
C&RL News
fascinating review of Hollywood set design
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786469307
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 261
  • Sales rank: 1,276,768
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Juan Antonio Ramírez, professor of art history at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, is the author of several books on architectural history, modern art, and visual culture. The late John F. Moffitt authored, edited or translated numerous books about art history. He was an art history professor at New Mexico State University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Architecture in the Movies and Elsewhere in History John F. Moffitt 1

Preface to the English Edition: Ten Lessons About Architecture in the Movies 5

Preface to the First Edition (1986) 11

1 General Introduction

Film Architecture and the Crisis of Modernism 13

From Shooting on Location to Filming in the Studios 16

The Architecture of Movie Theaters and Architecture in the Movies 21

Film Architecture vs. Ordinary Architecture 23

2 Set Design

The First Advances in Art Direction 26

Architect vs. Director: Joseph Urban 27

The "Illustrators": Anton Grot and William Cameron Menzies 32

Stage Designers and Painters: Wilfred Buckland and Ben Carré 36

Supervising Architects: Hans Dreier, Van Nest Polglase, and Cedric Gibbons 38

Other Art Directors 42

The Design Process 43

Background Research 45

Additional Aspects of Design 49

The Imaginary Client and the Viewing Customer: Scale Models 49

Working Conditions and the Studio Styles 51

3 Set Construction

Techniques, Materials, and Architectural Machinery 54

Tricks of the Trade 59

The Impact of Sound 67

4 From Furniture to Artificial Landscapes

Set Dressing and the Accessories Departments 69

Wardrobes vs. Sets 72

The Construction of Landscapes 72

Artificial Oceans and Creative Ship-Building 76

Heavenly Effects 79

5 Architecture and Desire: The Character of Film Constructions

Six Distinctive Qualities 81

Color and Lighting 90

A Driving Functionalism 93

6 The Death and Resurrection of Sets

Methods of Destruction: Fire, Burial, Abandonment 97

The Ruins of Hollywood 101

Architectural Metempsychosis: The Permanent Sets 102

Some Statistics 109

7 Architectural Styles from Antiquity

Mesopotamia and Palestine 114

Egypt 122

Greco-Roman Architecture 127

8 From Medieval to Renaissance Architectural Styles

Castles and Palaces 132

The Gothic of Terror 135

Church, Cloister, Street… 141

Examples from the Renaissance 143

9 The Provinces of Exoticism

From Legendary Arabia to Contemporary Legend: Moorish Spain 146

An Archetypal Spain 151

India 153

Pan-Slavic Architecture and/or the Jungle 156

The Far East 157

Pre-Columbian America 160

10 From Colonial Baroque to Contemporary Eclecticism

The "Spanish Style" and the Bourgeois Baroque 162

Did a Cinematic Neo-Classicism Exist? 170

"American" Architecture, Frontier to Urban 171

Other (Old World) Countries 176

11 Modern Architecture Conquers Hollywood

The First Moderns: Urban, Rambova, et al. 179

Art Deco and Zigzag Geometrization 186

The Ocean Liner and "Streamline Moderne" 190

The International Style 194

Rationalist-Surrealist Architecture in Musicals 201

12 Epilogue

Some Omnipresent Elements: Staircases, Bathrooms, Bedrooms 206

Partial Conclusions 213

Notes 217

Bibliography 227

Index 241

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