Magazine article American Cinematographer

Setting the Scene

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Setting the Scene

Article excerpt

Setting the Scene by Hubert S. Sennett Abrams, 208 pps., cloth $39.95

It's always a special treat when Harry Abrams, noted as a publisher of art books, produces a tome about movies. One expects and gets the best in layout, paper, printing and binding. Setting the Scene, which pays tribute to the great art directors of Hollywood (with asides to some British and European masters) is an ideal book for such a presentation. It combines a well-written and involving text with a wealth of production drawings and photos, 140 in black & white and 25 in color.

Sennett gives us an overview of the history of art direction (today it's called production design), taking us from the early days of painted flats through the realism of The Birth of a Nation, the introduction of "settings that talk" in post-World War I Germany, and some of the great individual contributions of such style-setters as William Cameron Menzies, Anton Grot, Hans Dreier, Preston Ames, Cedric Gibbons, Charles D. …

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