Magazine article Variety

Production Design for 'Black Panther' Blends Fantasy, Reality

Magazine article Variety

Production Design for 'Black Panther' Blends Fantasy, Reality

Article excerpt

WHEN "BLACK PANTHER" production designer Hannah Beachler was given the task of bringing the fictional land of Wakanda to life, she essentially agreed to build an entire society.

Beachler says she began by looking at the big picture - mapping out the topography of a sub-Saharan country located along water. She then took elements from the real world to envision what this society would look like after being struck by a meteorite. "You just keep getting more detailed and more pinpointed in where you want everything to be because you're really building a whole civilization," she explains. "Bridges, districts, transportation, what people do, their food - it was everything."

Unlike much of the real continent of Africa, Wakanda was never colonized; its cities include different tribes and traditions, and Beachler incorporated all these African elements into a futuristic environment to show how advanced the nation's people are. "That's why you feel history, but there's the technology on top of that," she says.

That led to the film's theme of Afrofuturism, which Beachler describes as a kind of temporal mix. "It's really about picking elements from the past and evolving them into a future - into a science fiction - and sort of reclaiming certain traditions," she says, adding that the theme was also fused into the costumes designed by Ruth E. Carter. Working on the set of "Black Panther" reunited Beachler with the film's director, Ryan Coogler. …

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