Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ken Adam, Hollywood God

Changing pace a bit, I'd like to talk about Ken Adam, perhaps the finest production designer to ever live. Now, I'll admit, I'm partial to James Bond flicks. The intrigue, the gadgets, the locations, the Connery. I'm totally a Connery Bond girl - no one else has quite matched the level of sophistication mixed with danger mixed with outright sexifulness (10 points for recognizing that reference). But perhaps the thing that made me love the Connery bonds more than anything else were the beautiful and amazing sets they were filmed on, all courtesy of Ken Adam.

All of Ken's sets for Bond an amazing futurism to them - yes, it was the future of the 1960's, but in my opinion it holds up amazingly. Many times, especially in the Bond series, Ken encorporated organic and man-mad materials into the same set and made something really awesome. Dr. No's underground lair was an excellent example of this - rock formations, trees, and fish juxtaposed against clean-planed wood floors, metal stairs, and plastic walls (with classical paintings and furniture thrown in for good measure). I'll admit, if I could I'd live in Dr. No's place. For more examples of this, see Goldfinger (probably my favorite Bond overall), Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, etc, etc, etc.

His non-Bond work has been just as amazing. The war room in Dr. Strangelove was so amazing and memorable that (reportedly) when President Regan took office he asked to be shown it! It also shows what I find to be a style characteristic of Ken's; the use of the circle as a prominent design element. Again, it adds a wonderful touch of futurism and fluidity to a set of sharp angles (for more examples of this see Dr. No again, and You Only Live twice). Of course he also did wonderful and amazing work on Barry Lyndon, Addams Family Values, and the Madness of King George among others.

I will always admire most his ability to combine disparate elements into a beautiful and cohesive whole. If you haven't seen at LEAST all the movies I've mentioned, you really should.

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