×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John Muto on Dante Ferretti

ADG Awards 2012: Designers on Design

John Muto on Dante Ferretti, production designer, “Hugo”

As director Ernst Lubitsch, a European sophisticate, pointed out in the early 1930s, “There’s Paramount’s Paris, Metro’s Paris, and, of course, Paris, France. But Paramount’s Paris is the most Parisian.”

Now, 80 years later, in “Hugo,” we have a fabulous new/old Paris to rival them all, created by Dante Ferretti for director Martin Scorsese — and Paramount.

Production designers, in attempting to explain their work, sometimes dazzle audiences by blithely stating we are “in the business of creating worlds.” Fortunately, Ferretti’s work proves that statement is just as grand as it sounds. He regularly creates worlds out nothing but imagination (and a little money), in such classics as “And the Ship Sails On,” “Titus,” “Kundun,” “The Age of Innocence,” “Gangs of New York.”

In “Hugo” we find ourselves in Ferretti’s Paris of 1930, in the world of an orphaned boy living inside the walls of the Gare Montparnasse — a created railroad station as visually resonant as the Hunchback’s Notre Dame or the Phantom’s Paris Opera.

Delving still deeper, this boy lives within the station’s clockworks, obsessed with the mystery of clockwork automaton. Once this world, fantastical yet totally believable, is established, Ferretti then recreates for us the very beginning of the cinema fantastique — another world both beautiful and true.

It must be pointed out that these impossible images never take us out of the film — rather, they actually pull us deeper into the wonderful illusion. That is the result of a true marriage of art and technology, and it’s truly a function of Ferretti’s and his collaborators’ sense of design.

One last thought that came to mind when I first saw “Hugo”: Is it possible that Ferretti and his fellows may have given us “The Red Shoes” for the new century? Is there a higher accolade?

John Muto’s credits include “Home Alone” and “Species.”

ADG AWARDS 2012
Tightening the definition
Designers on design
Production designers and art directors comment on the ADG-nominated work of their peers
John Muto on Dante Ferretti | Greg Grande on Jefferson Sage | Norm Newberry on Stuart Craig | John Sabato on Patti Podesta | Ken Averill on Christopher Glass | John Shaffner on Steve Bass | Dave Blass on Mark Worthington | John Iacovelli on James Yarnell

More Scene

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

  • Millie Bobby Brown on Her Feature

    Millie Bobby Brown Calls Her Film Debut in 'Godzilla' 'Kind of Unreal'

    Millie Bobby Brown is no stranger to stardom thanks to “Stranger Things,” but she still can’t believe she’s making her feature film debut in the monster reboot “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” “It’s kind of unreal,” Brown told Variety at the premiere. “I’m like, ‘What is happening right now?’ It’s so bizarre and unreal, and [...]

  • CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Robert

    Robert Pattinson Helps HFPA Donate $500,000 to Refugee Organization at Cannes Event

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association proved in Cannes Sunday night that the Golden Globes aren’t the only festive bash it can pull off each year. At the glamorous Nikki Beach party held in association with Participant Media, the HFPA donated $500,000 to international aid organization Help Refugees. Co-hosts Robert Pattinson and Helen Mirren along with Quentin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content