For the 20th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's death, a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum offers a comprehensive look at the genre-defining of his career, revealing the innovative techniques and remarkable attention to detail that went into establishing his cinematic worlds. Here's some of the most striking set designs from the director’s back catalogue.
The Shining (1980)
The Shining is one of the most distinctive characters in all of Kubrick’s filmography. Though the Timberline Lodge in rural Oregon was used for the exterior shots of the fictional Overlook Hotel, the interiors were constructed at Elstree Studios, giving him more artistic control over the space.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
For this film, Kubrick employed real spacecraft experts Frederick Ordway and Harry Lange, who had previously worked at NASA, to make his futuristic 1968 sci-fi a reality. The film’s groundbreaking centrifuge set – the main interior of the spaceship Discovery – was built on a vast rotating platform and designed by British aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs at a cost of $750,000.
Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Described as the greatest movie set ever built, the Pentagon War Room is part military bunker, part Hollywood musical soundstage; the cavernous, high-contrast centrepiece of an absurdist comedy about an impending nuclear conflict that’s played laser-straight. The set was inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 German Expressionist masterpiece Metropolis.
In adapting Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita, about a middle-aged literature professor who becomes infatuated with an underage girl, Kubrick inverted his own narrative by making protagonist Humbert Humbert (played by James Mason) a British expat living in the US. Most of the film’s midcentury-styled interiors were filmed at Elstree Studios near London.
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