Monday, 30 November 2015

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Shining (1980)

Fig. 1: The Shining Original Theatrical Poster
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a film that everyone will have seen parts of in one way or another, as parodies and references to the film's more well known scenes show up in many other films and TV shows such as The Simpsons, NBC's Hannibal (fig. 2 and 3), and Bob's Burgers (fig. 4). It is unlikely that anyone who watches the film now will not recognise at least one scene from somewhere. 

One bathroom homage to The Shining just wasn’t enough for Bryan Fuller.: Hannibabe Lecter, Bathroom Homage, Sweet Psychopath, Google Search, Hannibal Fannibal, Stag House, Wolf Trap, Beautiful FilmsFull size image
Fig. 2 and 3: Set design in Hannibal replicating The Shining.

Hannibal's writer and producer, Bryan Fuller: "I’ve been wanting to do the bathroom [set] forever...Every show I’ve done I wanted to build a bathroom that looked like that space. What’s so remarkable about it is it’s a purely psychological space. You were inside this secret corner of Jack Torrance’s mind where the ghost of Overlook’s past has cornered him and is having a conversation about killing his family. It’s almost like a fantasy bathroom that actually doesn’t exist in reality because it’s anachronistic to the rest of the ballroom – it’s such a stark juxtaposition to everything else that we’re seeing at the hotel. It’s like they dipped the entire set in blood." (Hibberd, 2013)

Fig. 4: Bar scene in Bob's Burgers.

The Shining's Overlook Hotel is still regarded as one of the most stunningly designed and horrifying sets in film, "Instead of the cramped darkness and panicky quick editing of the standard-issue scary movie, Kubrick gives us the eerie, colossal, brilliantly lit spaces of the Overlook Hotel (created in Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire), shot with amplitude and calm." (Bradshaw, 2012). Every single room and corridor seems to have a completely different design and colour scheme, and it feels strange that all these rooms exist in one hotel. The differences in design and colour give each room a different ambiance, something that would be difficult to achieve had they given the hotel's rooms a set shape and colour scheme as is often typical of hotels today. The different designs also make each space feel like it belongs to someone, something that's reinforced by visions of ghosts who occupy the hotel, making the presence of Danny, Wendy and Jack almost like an intrusion in someone's home. 

Fig. 5: Danny encounters the twins.
Fig. 6: Danny plays in the corridor.
However, rooms such as room 237 and the red bathroom (fig.3), are only seen from Jack's perspective, so it's debatable if what we see in the film is what they truly look like, or if they even exist at all. Perhaps the hotel does have a strict design and colour scheme, and what the audience sees are the "ghosts" of what the rooms looked like in the past. This would make sense, as the hotel would no doubt have each room redecorated after each tragedy. This is also reinforced by the scene in which Danny sees the twins; all the corridors in the hotel are white with black doors (fig. 6), except for the corridor where he sees the twins, which has floral wallpaper and cream doors (fig. 5). "When [Roy] Walker set about designing the film’s rooms, he took inspiration from real hotel rooms from around America, and went all over the country photographing different interiors. On his return, Kubrick leafed through the pictures, chose the ones he liked, and had his production team construct rooms that looked exactly the same." (Lambie, 2011)

Overlook Hotel Hall Shot
Fig. 7: The main hall.
The Overlook Hotel is built on an ancient Native American burial ground, and much of the interior decor in the large hall where Jack spends most of his time (fig. 7) has the geometric shapes seen in some Native American art. From the start, the hotel is built on death, and as is typical of stories about places built on burial grounds, there is a strong suggestion the hotel is cursed. Geometric designs continue throughout the hotel, with the famous orange, brown and red carpet (fig. 6) that we often see Danny travelling down on his trike. 

The Shining Danny
Fig. 8: Jack and Danny.
There is relatively little backstory for the characters in the film, except for the bar scene, where Jack tells Lloyd the bartender about one time when he hit Danny out of frustration. Other than that, it's up to the audience to determine the kind of relationship the characters have. From the beginning, it's fairly obvious that Jack doesn't care for his wife, seeming to only find her irritatingly optimistic and blaming her for his writer's block. The relationship between Danny and Jack is more difficult to work out at first, but after some time in the hotel, Danny shows signs he is afraid of his father, asking if Jack would ever want to hurt Danny or his mother. Jack responds to this by asking if it was Wendy who told Danny his father might want to hurt him, reinforcing the idea that Jack dislikes his wife and blames her for his problems. In the bar scene, when Jack talks about when he hit Danny, he says his wife will never let him live it down, and that hitting Danny was an accident caused by him scattering his papers, showing again that Jack blames others for his actions. There is also some suggestion that Jack knew about the tragedies that occurred in the hotel; his lack of surprise when he is told about the allegedly most recent murder, the fact that he recognises the ghosts in the hotel, including Lloyd the bartender and Grady, whom he claims he remembers from a newspaper article about him killing his family. If Jack knew about this, did he bring his family here on purpose?

Fig. 9: Jack, Danny and Wendy travel to the Overlook Hotel.
Overall, the characters don't fit together as well as the rest of the film. Jack and Wendy's relationship doesn't seem to make sense, and it feels as though the actors were chosen based on their ability to play their given characters and not based on any chemistry between them, which is nonexistent; "Jack sits at a typewriter in the great hall, pounding relentlessly at his typewriter, while Wendy and Danny put together a version of everyday life that includes breakfast cereal, toys and a lot of TV. There is no sense that the three function together as a loving family." (Ebert, 2006). We also never see evidence of a time when Jack and Wendy may have loved each other, instead they stand awkwardly next to each other during the tour of the hotel and occasionally engage in conversation that resembles something a husband and wife might say to one another. Lack of backstory also means it is difficult to understand what the characters were like before; as far as anyone knows, Jack has always been an angry, borderline abusive husband, so there is no noticeable change in character. "The evil may have always been there in Jack, The Overlook merely awakened it." (Nathan, 2012).

The Shining will always be regarded as one of Kubrick's best films, especially based on the set design and style of filming. The characters are memorable, but the Overlook Hotel will always be the highlight of the film.

Figure 1. The Shining Original Theatrical Poster (1980) [Poster] At: (Accessed on: 24.11.15)

Figure 2. Set design in Hannibal replicating The Shining. (2013) From: Hannibal. Directed by: Various Directors. [TV Still] Canada: NBC. At: (Accessed on: 25.11.15)

Figure 3. Set design in Hannibal replicating The Shining. (2013) From: Hannibal. Directed by: Various Directors. [TV Still] Canada: NBC. At: (Accessed on: 25.11.15)

Figure 4. Bar scene in Bob's Burgers. (2011) From: Bob's Burgers. Directed by: Unknown [TV Still] United States: Fox. At: (Accessed on: 25.11.15)

Figure 5. Danny encounters the twins. (1980) From: The Shining. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. [Film Still] United Kingdom/United States: Warner Bros. At:
(Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Figure 6. Danny plays in the corridor. (1980) From: The Shining. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. [Film Still] United Kingdom/United States: Warner Bros. At:
(Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Figure 7. The main hall. (1980) From: The Shining. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. [Film Still] United Kingdom/United States: Warner Bros. At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Figure 8. Jack and Danny. (1980) From: The Shining. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. [Film Still] United Kingdom/United States: Warner Bros. At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Figure 9. Jack, Danny and Wendy travel to the Overlook Hotel. (1980) From: The Shining. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick. [Film Still] United Kingdom/United States: Warner Bros. At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Hibberd, J. (2013) 'NBC's 'Hannibal' contains 'The Shining' shout-outs'. In: Entertainment Weekly 04.04.13 [Online] At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Lambie, R. (2011) 'Iconic set design: The Shining's Overlook Hotel'. In 03.11.11 [Online] At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Ebert, R. (2006) 'The Shining' In: 18.06.06 [Online] At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Bradshaw, P. (2012) 'The Shining - review' In: The Guardian 01.11.12 [Online] At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Nathan, I. (2012) 'The Shining Review' In: Empire 01.01.12 [Online] At: (Accessed on: 26.11.15)

Film Review: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Fig. 1: Original Theatrical Poster (1990)
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990) tells the story of a boy left with hands for scissors after his creator, an inventor, died before he was able to give him real hands. For the majority of the film, the scissors are seen as a kind of beneficial disability, as living his entire life with them has given him skills in hedge cutting, hair dressing and ice sculpting. Value for his talents is short-lived however, as he is soon taken advantage of for his "talents". The story "is told gently,subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts." (Lee, 2014).

Fig. 2: Edward.
Edward is arguably a truly innocent character, and is in many ways a "blank slate" that's been released on a world where innocence is not valued, but rather viewed as too child-like. This is shown in a scene where Edward is asked what he should do if he finds a large sum of money that doesn't belong to him, he is given a few options, and chooses the option to give it to his loved ones, but is told this option is wrong, and the morally correct decision is to take the money to the police. Morals are a major theme in the film, and it's questioned several times whether people are born morally good, or if morals are taught. A deeply religious character shows no evidence of being either morally bad or good, but simply seems to appear in order to build tension - an interesting choice in character writing, as religious people are often viewed as holding a moral high ground. Kevin, the only child character in the film, is also not wholly innocent, but instead a typical young boy who finds blood and violence appealing, even taking Edward into school to show him off to his class mates, portraying him as frightening man capable of murder; "one chop to a guy's neck, and it's all over."

Fig. 3: Joyce asks Edward to cut her dog's fur.
Edward is meant to contrast the other characters in the film by being odd and socially inept, but not everyone feels that this is the case; "One problem is that the other people are as weird, in their ways, as he is: Everyone in this film is stylized and peculiar, so he becomes another exhibit in the menagerie" (Ebert, 1990). That being said, all the "normal" characters are in some way an exaggeration of people most of the audience will recognise from their own lives - many people will know of an Avon lady like Peg or a merciless flirt like Joyce. In fact, all characters fit into some kind of stereotype, but many seem to possess no qualities beyond it. Through making the characters over the top stereotypes, they are just as weird and unbelievable as Edward, the irony is that they all view Edward as strange and feel their lives are normal. 

edward scissorhands cars
Fig. 4: The suburbs.
The suburbs they live in, though pleasant in design, do not feel like an appealing place to live. Attitudes seem to be incredibly old fashioned, as all the women are gossiping, two-faced housewives who would happily trample over each other to achieve their own goals, "the husbands go to the office at exactly the same time, and the wives bake apple pies and gossip over the garden fence" (Lee, 2014). The women only stand together to mock or ostracise their neighbours, and there is an immediate sense of unease when Edward is introduced to the Bog's friends and neighbours, who view him as a spectacle instead of a person, and seem to have no awareness of or respect for his innocence. Edward's child-like qualities make him feel like a character that needs protecting, something Peg attempts to do, but in the end this is left up to Kim, who concludes that a solitary life away from these people is the safest thing for him.

edward scissorhands pastel houses1
Fig. 5: Colourful houses.
The suburbs in which the film takes place feel like a "a goofy sitcom neighbourhood" (Ebert, 1990) rather than a place that could exist, which based on Burton's other works, is most likely intentional. However, the set is in fact a real neighbourhood in Florida, that was stripped down and repainted to create the place we see in the film . The production designer for the film, Bo Welch, has said "The friction between Edward's look and the neighbourhood, that we altered severely, just gives me infinite joy... I don't know if I've ever seen it again." 

Fig. 6: Out of place mansion.
There are many aspects of Edward Scissorhands that don't make much sense; the placement of the Gothic mansion overlooking the suburbs is never explained, and no one seems to know who lived in it, or even bothered visiting before Peg, but the fact Peg does go up to the mansion suggests she - and probably other people - believe somebody was currently living there. If people believed the house was empty, it would have no doubt been demolished and made to fit in with the modern suburb. The mansion also seems largely ignored despite it's placement and colour scheme, which sticks out like a sore thumb against the pastels of the rest of the set. Whatever the explanation behind the mansion is, it seems to be something that only makes sense to Burton, and not the audience, who are most likely also expected to ignore the lack of explanation and backstory and simply accept the set as being quirky and original. 

Fig. 7: An older Kim tells the story of Edward to her granddaughter.
Edward Scissorhands is a visually fun and interesting film, but overall seems to miss the mark. The film appears to try so hard to be strange and different, but the story doesn't stand out against any other film, especially not any film by Tim Burton. Beetlejuice and Batman were simultaneously colourful and dark, with stories and characters that kept up with the films absurd visuals and designs. Edward Scissorhands lacks this, and it's almost painful to think it's viewed as one of Burton's best creations. The characters are not overly memorable, the message the film is trying to convey is confusing, and the romantic subplot makes no sense other than to make the ending that little bit more painful. The choice to have the story told by a much older Kim feels unnecessary, as the film would work fine without it. Much like the romance, it seems it was only included to tug the audience's heartstrings but only raises more questions; did she really never go back? If Edward allegedly loves her so much, why did he never try to see her again? Why did she never go back if she felt the same way? Why, with the belief that Edward was dead, was the mansion not destroyed?

Without the iconic set design, Edward Scissorhands would not be the success it was, and in comparison to other films Tim Burton made, as well as other films released at the time, it simply doesn't stand out.

Figure 1. Original Theatrical Poster (1990) [Poster] At: (Accessed on: 10.11.2015)

Figure 2. Edward. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 20.11.15)

Figure 3. Joyce asks Edward to cut her dog's fur. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 20.11.15)

Figure 4. The suburbs. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 5. Colourful houses. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 6. Out of place mansion. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 7. An older Kim tells the story of Edward to her granddaughter. (1990) From: Edward Scissorhands. Directed by: Tim Burton [Film Still] United States: 20th Century Fox. At: (Accessed on: 20.11.15)

Ebert, R. (1990) 'Edward Scissorhands' In: [Online] At: (Accessed on: 25.11.15)

Lee, M. (2014) 'Edward Scissorhands, review: 'a true fairytale'' In: The Telegraph [Online] At: (Accessed on: 25.11.15)

Monday, 23 November 2015

What If? Metropolis: Possible Final Concept Art

What If? Metropolis: Concept Art and Lighting - FEEDBACK PLEASE!

After looking over my concept art, I found the yellow light didn't compliment the colour of the buildings, so I've played around with colours a bit to try and create a better alternative. 

Digital Painting: Colour Composition Exercises

I used my old concept art to make these colour compositions. For the images on the left I set the original image to black and white with the colours set to overlay over it, for the right, I kept the concept art in colour. The aim was to show different times of day/moods/weather using colour. 

What If? Metropolis: Concept Art Edits

I've made some changes to my concept art, including lowering the road to make it a less prominent feature, adding light and drawing structures in the background in order to make the matte painting more interesting. I prefer this version to the original, as I feel it has better colour and composition.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Film Review: Repulsion (1965)

Fig. 1: Original Theatrical Poster
Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965) is a psychological horror about a girl named Carol, whose mental state deteriorates at an alarming rate when her sister, Helen, leaves her alone in their shared flat to go on holiday. "It is one of Roman Polanski's most brilliant films: a deeply disturbing, horribly convincing psychological thriller that is also that rarest of things: a scary movie in which a woman is permitted to do the killing." (Bradshaw, 2013)

Fig. 2: Carol and Helen.
The flat is used as a visual representation of Carol's mental illness; it becomes a "gruesome account of the crumbling of her mind" (Crowther, 1965). It's increasingly messy, things are broken, cracks appear in walls and hands appear from nowhere to try and grab her. Though there is not much information on Carol's relationship with her sister (fig. 2), it is clear Carol does not feel safe without her, shown by her begging Helen not to leave and her increased paranoia when Helen is gone. This explains Carol's instant dislike of Helen's boyfriend, Michael; she feels Michael is taking her sister from her.

Fig. 3: Colin breaks into the flat.
It is interesting, that all the male characters in the film are shown in some way to "force" their way to Carol. Colin, her admirer, breaks the door down to get to her (fig. 3) - though he may feel his intentions are not untoward, his sudden obsession with her is discomforting, and it is not entirely absurd that Carol does not feel safe with him. The landlord also breaks into the flat to get to Carol, at first just demanding the rent, then attempting to sexually assault her once he has it. Even Carol's imagined rapist makes his way her via a door with a wardrobe blocking it. Needless to say, Carol's fear and general distrust of men is not unjustified, even her sister's boyfriend has questionable morals, as it's revealed he is married to another woman and visits Helen most nights for sex. 

Fig. 4: Family Photograph.
Carol fears men's lust for her which "develops into a neurotic fascination and horror of dust and dirt of all kinds, a condition that escalates into agoraphobia and paranoid episodes." (Bradshaw, 2013). Though it is not made clear, shots of a family photograph (fig. 4) kept in the flat, that show a young Carol staring vacantly into the distance, are made to feel sinister. Not only does this suggest that Carol has always suffered from a mental illness to some degree, but also implies something happened in her childhood to make her the way she is. It is guessed, that her fear of intimacy and sex may stem from her being assaulted as a child, by her father or another male adult.

Fig. 5: Hands from the walls.
As Carol's condition gets worse, the appearance of the flat is warped and changed. Rooms become bigger, corridors are longer and darker, walls close in, masculine hands appear from nowhere to grab her (fig. 5). "The dressed carcass of a rabbit on a platter becomes a monstrous symbol as the picture goes along. Small cracks in the walls of the apartment flow into crunching indicators of the heroine's crumbling mind." (Crowther, 1965).

Repulsion becomes increasingly frightening as Carol's hallucinations become more frequent. It is, in many ways, tragic, that it's possible some childhood trauma has turned Carol into the person she is, living in fear of something she is forced to encounter every day; men. Polanski has shown excellently through imagery and set design the state of Carol's mind, and "achieved a haunting concept of the pain and pathos of the mentally deranged" (Crowther, 1965), enthralling anyone who watches it.

Figure 1. Original Theatrical Poster (1965) [Poster] At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 2. Carol and Helen. (1965) From: Repulsion. Directed by: Roman Polanski [Film Still] Great Britain: Compton Pictures. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 3. Colin breaks into the flat. (1965)  From: Repulsion. Directed by: Roman Polanski [Film Still] Great Britain: Compton Pictures. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 4. Family photograph. (1965)  From: Repulsion. Directed by: Roman Polanski [Film Still] Great Britain: Compton Pictures. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Figure 5. Hands from the walls. (1965)  From: Repulsion. Directed by: Roman Polanski [Film Still] Great Britain: Compton Pictures. At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Bradshaw, P. (2013) 'Repulsion - Review' In: The Guardian [Online] At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Crowther, B. (1965) 'REPULSION' In: The New York Times [Online] At: (Accessed on: 21.11.15)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Life Drawing

First 20 minutes.
5 minute, 3 minute and 1 minute poses.
Small drawings, studying front and back.
Back study.