The Impact of Art Direction on Film

How Could Art Direction Transform The Art of Cinema?

One of the basic structures that make the difference in the sense of cinema is undoubtedly art direction. The imagination of production is the sharpest part of the cinema. It makes cinema different from literature. A movie is formed in front of the camera with art direction. An art director is a person who designs the places, products, and general atmosphere that will take place in the film. The art department works with the cinematographer and production team in line with the director’s directives and is responsible for all production design elements. That’s why they work with the director for each frame before shooting begins.

For instance, well-known production designer Nancy Haigh, whose name we frequently hear at Oscar ceremonies, won the award for Best Production with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in 2019, and was nominated for the Best Art Decoration at the Oscars in 1996 with Coens’ masterpiece “Barton Fink”. Barton Fink is a writer who lives only in a hotel room. Nancy Haigh preferred an art direction that is much simpler and has a dark feeling without overfilling details

Barton Fink, 1998

On the other hand, in Tarantino’s film, there is an understanding of an art director that is quite ambitious and stands out with his choices in every scene. Because the film’s world reflects Hollywood’s glorious times, the art director has set up a flamboyant design. Set decorator Nancy Haigh and production designer Barbara League, who reconstructed Los Angeles within a plateau by its period, created a dazzling and glamorous world as per the story.

When we compare the two films, one of them wants a pale and non-prominent art aspect due to the story, while the other is an art director success that makes its appearance felt in the different scene. Regardless of what the story tells, its visual richness can get ahead of the story. But in the case of Barton Fink, art, costume, light serve the story and never get in the way.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Vine Theatre

What Layer Does Wes Anderson’s Impeccable Production Design World Add to The Art of Cinema?

The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Oscar-winning production of Wes Anderson, who has been glorified by art direction which won the best costume design award (Milena Canonero), the best hair make-up award (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier), and Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock won the best production design awards at the 2014 Oscar Awards. With its admirable success in such fields, the production has become the most talked-about film in design.

The director has created an entirely imaginary world for this film. Wes Anderson, who brought sculptures from Karlov Vary and built a new model hotel inspired by Europe’s oldest and glorious architecture, is a director who prefers to polish and legend the story with the art direction.

To convey the story, set in an entirely imaginary world with Switzerland, Vienna, and Hungary’s urban texture. As we can understand from the production process, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a multidisciplinary work that includes all design areas.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson

Art direction starts with designing a model hotel. It involves rebuilding by taking inspiration from the oldest hotels in Vienna, requiring long-term work, integrating with the choice of costume accessories and make-up. Although we know that the story took place in 1932, we cannot precisely perceive the film’s time frame designed to evoke dreams.

In this film, where imagination meets symmetrical design in every frame, the story’s naive feeling conveys a memorable visual feast. With distinct art choices such as a soft color palette, timeless costume design that reflect the director’s imagination in which cinema’s art blended with design, an enchanting film emerged. In this way, Wes Anderson put his name on the list of unforgettable directors with the fascinating cinematic universe he has built.


MCPHERSON, ANGIE. “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” National Geographic, 24 Feb. 2015,

Hickey, Alison. “Alison Hickey.” Art Departmental, 3 Feb. 2011,

“Barton Fink.” IMDB, IMDB, 28 Feb. 1998,

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” IMDB, 23 Aug. 2019,

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” IMDB, 11 Apr. 2014,


Barton Fink

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Grand Budapest Hotel


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