PRODUCTION DESIGN CASE STUDY:
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2006
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
WRITER: Guillermo del Toro
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro
EXEC. PRODUCER: Belen Atienza
GENRE: FANTASY / DRAMA
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Eugenio Caballero
STORYLINE: In 1944 Spain, during a rebellion against the fascist government, a fairy-tale obsessed girl and her pregnant mother go to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the fascist Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of an ancient labyrinth. The tells her she's actually a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the fairy king, again.
The film's overall vision deals mainly with the confluence of reality and fantasy brought on by traumatic situations. Every design in the film has a fantasy element tied to a real-world element. The film is built, then, on metaphors. It is purposefully difficult to tell if the audience is watching a fantasy about a young woman's true nature or a drama about a young woman's progressively deteriorating mental state.
LOCATIONS, SETS, and LIGHTING:
The locations and sets try to blend the fantastic and the real in line with the story's vision. The designs clearly contain elements of both worlds. The lighting vacillates between cold, blue moonlight and hot, yellow firelight to enhance the conflict and confluence of the two worlds.
COSTUMES, HAIR, and MAKEUP:
The costumes and hair in this film range from the historically accurate to the traditional fantasy. Creature costumes and makeup effects are detailed and structurally complicated. The real world costuming is dull, simple, and mainly earth-toned. The costumes of the fantasy world are vibrant, gaudy, complex, and colorful.
The props department for this film created everything from dishes and furniture to body parts and musical instruments. The focus, once again, on the relationship between real and fantasy. The props, in many cases, needed to look like fantasy items; but they also needed to look as if they could be real. They needed to look practical, used, and crafted. The fantasy designs also needed to look natural or connected to nature.
CHARACTER and CREATURE DESIGN:
From the fairies and the toad prince to the pale man and the faun, careful and impactful creature design was vital to the film's success. The creatures needed, again, to be fantastical, yet they had to have a sense of tangibility. They needed, as well, a sense of individuality and personality. The unique creature designs are one of the main reasons this film is so memorable.