The museum of the Cinématheque Française in Paris displays two models in its foyer as examples of contemporary film decor. That by Bernard Evein from Jacques Demy’s 1988 musical Trois places pour le 26 is a diaphanous abstraction of wires and coloured panels, typical of a designer who is less an architect than a painter. By contrast, Jacques Saulnier’s design for Mon oncle d’Amerique , one of many Alain Resnais films he designed, is solid as a brick, a meticulous rendering of a bourgeois French apartment of the 1970s, right down to the Dubuffet art and designer rugs.
The contrast reveals the differences in style between two men who dominated French film design in the period following the Nouvelle Vague . Saulnier and Evein (like Resnais) graduated from the highly theoretical Institut des Haute Etudes Cinématographiques. Saulnier however went on to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, giving his talent a formal gloss it never lost, and then entered movies as assistant to Max Douy and Alexandre… read more