Tuesday, June 7, 2016

From Sketch to the Screen: Jacques Colombier

The enormity of screen space in films shot in the extra-wide cinemascope format tends to intensify the power of architectural lines and volumes shown within the frame. No matter how many characters are crammed in a shot, there is always some room for the immobile architecture of the film to be seen, felt, and even attain a narrative function. Look at the first two images above—elevation of a three-story building and the plan of the alley in which the building is located. They belong to the production of a swashbuckling vehicle for French star Jean Marais, La Tour, prends garde! (1958), designed by Jacques Colombier. Now, if one compares them to the images of the constructed sets below, there are some revealing facts about the nature of film architecture to be noticed: the camera and lighting are extensions of an art director’s imagination, and thanks to them a partly constructed set comes to life and finds an instant identity.

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