Guillermo del Toro has been doing the interview rounds for his upcoming “Crimson Peak,” and it’s proven a perfect series of opportunities for him to gush over the colossal scope and craft of his high-concept gothic horror flick. In particular, he’s been talking about the set of the film itself: it’s an elaborate, spooky, mostly handcrafted labyrinth that, on the basis of the trailers, is a triumph of imagination and production design. It’s yet to be definitively determined whether or not “Crimson Peak” is worth visiting, but del Toro’s remarks about the importance of setting in cinema should not be disregarded. A film can take place inside a haunted, centuries-old manse, or on an alien planet, or maybe in a slightly underfurnished Brooklyn apartment… it all matters. In movies, your location can quickly become a character in and of itself. This week, audiences will be have the opportunity to witness this maxim distorted to exhilarating effect in Lenny Abrahamson’s powerful “Room,” which re-imagines a captive woman’s squalid surroundings as the veritable nexus of the galaxy.
“Settings are characters too” is the title of the video essay below, which examines the importance of location. A perfectly chosen setting can highlight or pervert a particular character’s frame of mind — in some cases, it can also provoke a nervous, borderline physical reaction reaction. The examples in the video are nothing if not eclectic: there’s Charles Foster Kane’s opulent and elusive Xanadu from “Citizen Kane,” juxtaposed with the banal, modern-day Midwestern diners and mobile homes that make up the cinematic world of new American humanist Alexander Payne, via “About Schmidt.” Mike Judge’s consistently underestimated ability to mine magic from the mundane corners of Middle American nothingness is touched upon with clips from his slacker magnum opus “Office Space.” There’s even an extended segment devoted to Ang Lee’s award-winning “Life of Pi,” a film in which central location (and lack thereof) play an absolutely crucial role.
Check out the entire video essay, courtesy of Now You See It, below: