Designing the Her Retro Look

Turns out that red is not only the warmest color in Spike Jonze’s Oscar-contending Her, but that there was no room for blue in this cozy LA of the near future. That’s because the world building was retro rather than futuristic in exploring the conflict between emotion and environment, according to K.K. Barrett and Casey Storm, the director’s longtime production designer and costume designer.

Indeed, this warm and inviting world was central in developing the enchanting love story between Joaquin Phoenix and his OS (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). “In this case, environment and technology were there in providing comfort or in organizing your life and it’s the human condition that gets explored,” suggests Barrett. “One of the great things about Los Angeles is that you can spread out. It wasn’t falling apart. It was easy to get around in. So it made a bit of a contrast. Life can still have its problems even though your surroundings try to make everything wonderful for you.

“China’s the same way and the little bit that we used were mainly exteriors. Everybody clusters in dense cities. I think it’s a very good parallel and Shanghai’s the same age as Los Angeles. We weren’t trying to make a statement about China in shooting some of it there. We just couldn’t find enough variety in Los Angeles to make it unfamiliar yet familiar.”

Color and light preceded architecture for Barrett, and in working very closely with Storm and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), red became the iconic theme that defined the mood.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Costume, Movies, Production Design, Tech, Trailers

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