In the world of film, creating a true odyssey requires no shortage of unique spaces and settings. For Poor Things, director Yorgos Lanthimos’s highly anticipated eighth feature film that follows a Frankenstein-like figure as she discovers the world in all its wonder and misery, production designers James Price and Shona Heath collaborated to create some of the most imaginative sets seen on screen this year.
After a lifetime stuck inside her family home, the film’s central character, Bella Baxter (portrayed by Emma Stone), travels the world in an attempt to discover it and herself. The dreamlike renderings of each location—from London to Lisbon, Alexandria, and Paris—evoke both the distinct mood of the quickly changing Baxter and the surreal tone of the film itself. With so much ground to cover, Price, Heath, and their teams set to work on mood boarding, throwing every idea into the mix until they landed on the mélange that felt appropriate for each step of Baxter’s journey.
“It’s sort of a poisoned chalice when you’re told ‘I want to make a 1930s studio movie, made with today’s technologies and also technologies and techniques from the time, but I want it to look like nothing that’s ever been seen before,’” Price tells Architectural Digest, explaining the double-edged sword of Lanthimos’s ambitious vision for the film’s look. “There was no preconception of what we were trying to create, so we had to figure it out and workshop it together.”