Serious, Serious Times Call For…

January 15, 2010

There’s a fantastic article on the production design of A Serious Man over at Incontention, one that tries to capture the apparent contradiction between spatial emptiness and richness of setting. The film utilizes a particular type of blank palette, one that needs to capture the inherent possibility of the moment:

“Basically I wanted to tell the story of suburbia and the suburban Jew,” Gonchor says.  “It was the beginning of the suburbs in the Midwest.  So I wanted everything to look as new and as fresh as possible, everything from the inside of the temple to the neighborhood.  I wanted to get across a sense of a new beginning and a new world.”

A new world, rife with possibilities but not yet developed enough to be truly comfortable or even properly defined. The protagonist struggles with establishing his property; his neighbor constantly encroaches on his yard. No fences make bad neighbors for the Jew hoping to be accepted as equal partner in settling the new land. This is, in a sense, a frontier story, and the production design goes to great lengths to define it this way.

Easily one of the best movies of the year.

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