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Elements of Design

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The emergence of cinema has enabled humanity to express its most original ideas and imagination by means of camera and tapes. Over time, film production has become an epic activity. Cinematography requires special attention to details and quality work in all areas of the film production.  That is why the close-knit group of professionals creates incredible images and characters, makes decorations for different ages, epochs, and cultures, and embodies the boldest ideas into reality. Current paper will analyze such aspects of film making as setting, lighting, costumes, makeup and hairstyles on the example of a scene from the movie “Dracula” directed by Francis Ford Coppola. All these design elements help to uncover and add the image of each character; they emphasize Dracula’s past and create a certain impression with viewers, which makes analysis of these elements so important.

The film “Dracula” can serve as the example of coordinated work by the professionals, who personify the ideas in the finished scenes through the elements of design. The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who is known as one of the most innovative film directors in Hollywood. The director is the main person in the film industry, who directs the actors and the entire crew. Under the supervision of producer, director has overall responsibility for developing the film concept and the scenario turns. In order to make audience interested in cinematic experience with a film, the director must select and set its tone. Film director is also responsible for choosing camera angles, lighting and effects. Of course, the director cannot keep up with all the details on the set and beyond.

Thomas E. Sanders was the production designer for “Dracula;” and afterwards, he worked on such films as "Braveheart," "Saving Private Ryan" and others. Production designer is the right hand of filmmaker. It is a person, who is responsible for the overall look of filmed events. In order to tell a story visually, production designer works with the director and director of photography. They establish the specific needs of the project, and then embody it on the screen. Production designer manages the costume designer, make-up stylists, the special effects director and others. All of them work together to make sketches into finished images or decorations in accordance to clear director’s vision and instructions.

Andrew Precht is an art director of "Dracula." After the successful release of the film, he also worked on "Legends of the Fall." While production designer is involved in the visualization of ideas, someone should organize the process of filmmaking. The Art Director's primary function is to support and follow through on the visual concepts of the process as specified by the production designer and director. That support includes a combination of both creative and management skills. Art Director manages a group of designers, assigns tasks, coordinates the staff and plans the budget.  

The film "Dracula" won Academy Awards for Costume Design, Makeup and Sound Editing. In one of the film scenes called "I never drink wine," it is possible not to see the hard work with the light, make-up and costumes. Artists created a particularly appealing emotional color through the different lighting. To ensure the mystery and horror of the scene, artists used shadows, which move wrong and live apart from the life of the characters. At the beginning of the scene (in the first mise en scene), the shadow on the wall stretches behind Dracula, who stands on the site. Earl Dracula holds an old lantern, which is framed by the glass inside. The glare from the glass falls on the clothes of the earl and creates an unusual shade. Torches, which are visible behind the earl's back, are filling mise en scene by the medieval atmosphere. When the main character, Jonathan Harker, arrives at Dracula's castle, he must cross the threshold of the house, which is divided by the light on the dark and light side. It is a symbol of the good and evil forces. In the context of the general history of the film, the light always creates gloom and some inscrutability.

Film action is developed in the middle of the 15th century and the late 19th century in London and in the lands of Transylvania (Romania). In each mise en scene, it is possible to see furniture, which is typical for medieval Romania: paintings, sculptures, silverware, and even weapons. Eiko Ishioka designed the costumes of the time (Coppola & Ishioka, 1992). In the scene "I never drink wine," Jonathan Harker is dressed in a discreet London classic suit of the 19th century. Dracula appears in medieval finery blood red color, which emphasizes the image of the vampire and bloodsucker. Hairstyle and makeup help to more fully reveal the characters. Earl Dracula’s long gray hair raise questions about how old he is, and the unnatural pallor emphasizes inhumanity. All the elements in the scene are harmoniously connected with each other. Each of them rather logically completes the previous one. The scene has mise en scene, which shows a picture of the earl in his youth, followed by a dialogue about the ancestors of Dracula. The scene shows how well the design elements convey a vision of the director. One of the remarkable things is that the scene has the famous painting by Albrecht Durer “Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe,” which was created in the 15th century. It is notable that in the film director used the face of Gary Oldman, who played Dracula instead of Dürer’s face.

The film is a work of art, which is created by the team of specialists. Without clear guidance of the director, vivid images of the production designer and the specific tasks of the art director, it is impossible to create something unique. Design elements such as lighting, makeup and costumes help to fully reveal the characters and add the necessary details to the story. The analysis of the scene from the movie “Dracula” has shown how these design elements are important in making the film, how they affect the emotional perception and reveal the plot. Different lighting can change the attitude of the audience to any of the characters or even change the audience’s mood. The costumes and make-up help to imagine the time in which the characters lived and tradition they honored. All these elements help to film a true cinematic masterpiece.

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