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GOTHIKA

About The Location
Rife with suspense and rich with disquieting atmosphere, Gothika is fortified by an evocative production design that portends the cruel twist of fate awaiting Dr. Miranda Grey – especially in the sets depicting the Woodward Penitentiary, the bleak, oppressive institution where she is incarcerated alongside her former patients.

The primary location for Woodward was the sprawling turn-of-the-century St. Vincent-de-Paul Prison, a now-abandoned maximum security facility in Laval, Quebec, located about an hour northwest of Montreal. The filmmakers had originally intended to build the penitentiary sets on stages, but augmented the design scheme after director

Mathieu Kassovitz fell in love with the dark, decaying facility, commonly known as "the SVP." Several scenes in the script were expanded so that the production could utilize more areas of the SVP to make Woodward an even greater presence in the story.

"When we were scouting locations during pre-production, we came upon the SVP and immediately knew that it was the place," says producer Susan Levin. "The ominous mood and tone of this movie are perfectly personified by that prison."

Production designer Graham "Grace" Walker and his art department transformed numerous settings within the visually rich SVP, including its maze of hallways and stairwells, the rusted, paint-peeling cell blocks, the three-story atrium-like Common Room, and the exercise yard where Chloe warns Miranda of impending danger.

Walker's team also constructed a number of the Woodward sets at Montreal's Cite du Cinema stage facility: the administration offices, the communal shower room and the glass-fronted observation cells, which were constructed from tiles and perforated stainless steel. "The biggest challenge in designing this film was maintaining a consistent look while we were integrating so many different locations and stage sets," Walker says. "It all came together because of my fantastic team in Montreal. They're exceptionally talented artisans, and they created a really visceral environment for this film."

"The locations and sets we shot in couldn't be more fitting for this movie," Berry attests. "They are very specific and really set the tone for the actors."

"Grace took inspiration from the actual prison and expanded on the gothic concept brilliantly," says Silver of Walker's meticulous eye to detail. "Together with Mathieu and our director of photography, Matthew Libatique, Grace made the Woodward Penitentiary a character in the film."

Director Kassovitz credits the film's sinister ambience to his collaboration with Walker, Libatique, and costume designer Kym Barrett. "What was most important to me was that the elements had to work together to make very stylized yet realistic environments that have both substance and meaning," he explains. "That meant that the sets and the lighting couldn't just be moody during the scariest parts, they had to be moody and eerie and scary the whole time. I never want the audience to escape that dark feeling; the mood must never be broken."

To realize director Kassovitz's vision, Walker developed a distinctive color palette. "I tried to create a foreboding sense with muted colors, grays and browns and fairly non-colored tones I'd never used before," says Walker, who previously designed the films Ghost Ship, Queen of the Damned and The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Walker and Kassovitz worked closely with cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who won the 2001 Independent Spirit Award for his haunting cinematography in Requiem for a Dream, to estab

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