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Lucy’s Studio: Elements of Design

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Lucy’s Studio: Elements of Design

            A movie starts with a great story, but bringing that story to life on screen takes many people with guidance from a director.  In 50 First Dates, that story is one of love complicated comically by a bad memory (Ewing, Lupi, Roach & Segal, 2004).  “Lucy’s Studio” is from the climax.  Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore, has a short term memory problem and cannot remember anything that has happened since she sustained a head injury (Ewing, et al., 2004).  Henry, played by Adam Sandler, had been wooing her daily, at first for challenge, but then because he had fallen in love with her (Ewing, et al., 2004).  Lucy did not want to hold Henry back from his life, so she destroyed her diary pages that mentioned him (Ewing, et al., 2004).  In this scene, Henry has gone back to Lucy under the impression that she remembered him, and he finds dozens of pieces of artwork featuring his face (Ewing, et al., 2004).  Using lighting, setting, costuming, and other elements of mise-en-scène, the director of 50 First Dates creates a heart-warming story hidden inside an Adam Sandler comedy.

There are many people who help to create the visual impact of a film, but the most important are the director, the cinematographer (or director of photography), and the people in charge of production design and art direction.  The director, Peter Segal, has overall responsibility for the film, and with films like Tommy Boy and Anger Management under his belt, he definitely had the talent to direct an Adam Sandler comedy (Ewing, et al., 2004; Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011; Peter Segal, n.d.). Cinematographer/ Director of Photography Jack N. Green is responsible for the “look” of the film, and how the shots are framed (Ewing, et al., 2004; Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011).  Alan Au, the Production Designer is responsible for creating the appearance Green and Segal desire (Ewing, et al., 2004; Glossary, n.d.).  Finally, the Art Director, in this case, Domenic Silvestri, oversees the artists and craftspeople who build the sets and props, including the portraits of Sandler hanging in Lucy’s art studio (Ewing, et al., 2004; Glossary, n.d.).

The lighting in “Lucy’s Studio” is significant for three reasons.  First, the lighting in the hospital is bright, and simulates the natural look of a building with large windows, wholly appropriate for Hawaii.  Secondly, while in the actual studio, the lights are dimmer, perhaps symbolizing the mystery the pictures hold for Lucy, since she does not know why she dreams about this man she paints.  There is a simple beam of light behind the characters from one window.  Finally, as the characters embrace, that beam of light fills the screen, showing a happy ending and figuratively, the “dawning” of realization for Lucy.

The setting of this scene is the mental hospital Lucy lives in and her art studio.  She lived with her father and brother, but after deciding to erase Henry from her life, she moved to the hospital to free her father and brother as well.  While Henry has been preparing for a long journey, Lucy has apparently decided to teach the other patients art.  The setting, bathed in light from the large windows, and full of friendly patients, shows that Lucy is successful and happy.  The darker studio, however, shows that there is a part of her life that is missing, and she is filling it with images of Henry.  One particular image of Henry, with a cracked egg for a head, continues to add to the humorous tone of the movie.

Costuming, makeup, and hair can all play a large part in creating a character or setting, but this movie is contemporary.  Henry wears a t-shirt and shorts as the everyman.  Lucy wears a bit of a mismatch, with a somewhat uptight Mandarin-collared shirt and flowing skirt, possibly showing her eccentricity and creative side. Overall, however, the costuming and makeup is made to look natural, as people in Hawaii today would dress. Throughout the movie, some of the locals don more “traditional” clothing, but, true to reality, most of the time people just wear comfortable, contemporary clothes.

The setting of Lucy’s art studio is important to the story itself.  She has painted dozens of pictures of a man she dreams about, but cannot remember.  When she sees him and recognizes him from her paintings, she shows them to him.  This reinforces his idea that their break-up was a mistake, and triggers a “man of your dreams” speech, effectively concluding the main conflict of the story.  The lighting, the paintings, the setting, and the costuming and hair all work together to bring a happy conclusion to a troubled love story.


Glossary. (n.d.) The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from http://www.imdb.com/glossary

Goodykoontz, B. & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books

Ewing, M., Lupi, D., Roach, J. (Producers) & Segal, P. (Director). (2004). 50 First Dates [Motion Picture]. United States: Sony Pictures.

Lucy’s Studio. (n.d.) 50 First Dates. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from http://movieclips.com/FLyc-50-first-dates-movie-lucys-studio

Peter Segal. (n.d.) The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0781842


10/04/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning | , , | Leave a comment