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Top Five Movie Bedrooms

February 14, 2012

Get your mind out of the gutter, now.  I’m far more interested in set design on this post that what actually occurs in the room itself.   Great set and production designers know that it takes more than just an actor’s performance to set the stage, so to speak, and let the audience in on a character’s personality.  Nothing is more personal and more revealing than a character’s humble abode.  Here are a few of my favorites on-screen.

5.) Tom’s L.A. bachelor haunt (500 Days of Summer)

Tom’s imagination is stifled by both his relationship and his dead-end job until the last moments of the film.  His sparse, bachelor apartment is muted but stylish, which fits his character to a tee.  Unlike Summer’s apartment, which is shown as a testament to her quirky but interesting style, Tom’s is a tad too impersonal, with the exception of his bedroom.  When he suddenly has his breakthrough, his muted bedroom turns into a burst of artistic force, thanks mostly to his incredible chalkboard that takes the place of a standard headboard.   He begins to sketch his architectural fantasies as they fill his brain.  Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?  I would love to be able to jot down some story ideas after waking up from some cracked out dreams…

4.) Marquise de Merteuil’s secret hideaway (Dangerous Liaisons)

In 18th century France, the Marquise’s power lies in being a very rich widow who doesn’t have to bend to any man’s whim.  Her palatial estate is decadent and tasteful on the outside, but it conceals the mind of a stone-cold manipulator.  To much of society, she is the perfectly pious matron, but her concealed lover’s nest, hidden behind a mirrored hallway, reflects her true tendencies.  Within, it is awash in pale blue elegance – the perfect place for a secret romantic tryst.  Alas, it becomes her undoing when the Vicomte de Valmont, one of the privileged few to ever have entered the sanctum, exposes her actions within to the world.

3.) Sam’s teenage loft  (Sixteen Candles)

I remember being Sam’s age and wishing I could paint my room black and put nothing on the walls but grunge band posters and modern art.  Times have changed, but kids are still plastering their domiciles with idols and dreams.  Sam’s room is an ode to an era of pretty boys in bands and ruffly 80s decor.  This leads to some great sight gags when Sam’s awkward grandparents invade her territory, to Sam’s dismay, but the viewer’s delight.  The contrast between Sam’s sweet sixteen sanctuary and her grandparents’ violation of its serenity provide one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

2.)Tony’s lair  (Scarface)

Once Tony Montana reaches the height of both his power and his madness, he buys the ultimate Miami mansion suitable for his new status.  While his office is a  sterile onyx tomb, his bedroom is worthy of a sultan – a flavorful over-the-top extravaganza of gold and cream that is the  perfect domicile for the melancholy Elvira, his kept, gold dust woman.   Complete with a spa tub right in the center of the room, it is the stage for the viewer’s realization that Tony’s mind (as well as his short marriage) is unraveling with every conspiracy theory he spews forth from his foul, cigar-chomping mouth.  There’s no success like excess, folks.

1.) Satine’s elephant (Moulin Rouge)

As Satine, the courtesan who rules over the Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman’s slinky performance is at its best when her character is on her home turf, inside an Indian-themed elephant where she entertains the romantic writer, Christian, and falls in love to one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.  The posh bedroom is awash in gold, red and orange hues, but the highlight is its open-air deck that overlooks the seedy side of Paris, where Satine and Christian fall in love amid the burlesque glow of all that can never be.   The elephant is a masterwork of design, becoming the centerpiece of an insular world built on pure imagination.  It also fits the character’s tastes and ambitions, showing Satine’s garish and delusional version of elegance, while simultaneously showcasing her whimsy and flair for the dramatic.

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