Monday, 14 March 2016

Ken Adam

Gestapo office with skewed walls, a disorientating piece of set design courtesy of Ken Adam for the 1976 film Salon Kitty... The passing of Ken Adam last week gave me opportunity to revisit Tinto Brass' film, a belated second viewing of the Blue Underground disc acquired back in, gosh, 2003. Fortunately the film played better than that disastrous initial screening so many years ago and apart from some artless direction and the occasional fit of silliness that threatened to derail proceedings, I quite enjoyed the film this time round. Of course Ken Adam's designs add a touch of class to the film - the warm Art Nouveau and Art Deco brothel sets and the cold sterility of administrative offices are remarkable recreations of the period, although Adam's work is often done a disservice by the nervy camerawork and tawdry compositions. Complimenting his work in the film is the DVD's supplemental interview with Adam, happily recalling the restorative experience the film was after the demands of Barry Lyndon, his design choices and influences, and one particularly ingenious workaround when budgetary restrictions couldn't facilitate one of Adam's conceptions. If my chronology is correct Adam was around 82 when the interview was filmed yet he speaks with the enthusiasm of a young man excited by the possibilities of his vocation...

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