Real Estates

May 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm 4 comments

beetlejuice

Ghost stories are typically about contested real estate. In film, the estate must visually represent what is at stake in the narrative’s conflict. Thus a particularly heavy burden falls to the production designer who must show the quality and character of the terrain at issue. The film’s credibility and coherence rest on visual foundations.

In Beetlejuice, Bo Welch admirably presents thesis-antithesis models for the contested home.

We begin with a nice Connecticut house upon a hill

beetlejuice

and its model equivalent,

beetlejuice

replete with a nice, if somewhat stylized couple

beetlejuice

who quickly die.

beetlejuice

Adam and Barbara’s vacation at home has thus turned into an eternity. This could be heaven, as Adam muses, except that the bourgies are moving in

beetlejuice

and quickly take to home improvement.

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Adam and Barbara can’t really leave, lest they contend with these guys:

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

So they try to take things into their own hands:

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

with no success, though they do befriend their adversaries daughter Lydia, whom Welch has done up as a perfect graveyard girl, or Robert Smith knockoff:

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Unfortunately getting institutional help in the afterlife is much like seeking institutional help in this life, difficult or impossible. Welch washes the dead bureaucracy in a gaseous green:

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

beetlejuice

No help. So Adam and Barbara turn to this guy:

Beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Beetlejuice has an ulterior motive. He’s looking to get married.

Beetlejuice

The wedding is fortuitously interrupted and the families learn to live with each other. Barbara and Adam, who were possibly infertile in life, gain a surrogate daughter

beetlejuice

who is clearly happier than formerly.

beetlejuice

Death, it turns out, is just as human as life. Beetlejuice is a weird delight, to which, in large measure, we can thank Bo Welch for his credible textures.

This post is a contribution to the production design blog-a-thon.

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just a quick reminder a quibble

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