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Lights, Camera, Fairy Tale
The design of ELLA ENCHANTED was decidedly ambitious for a film of its size. Tommy O'Haver intended to bring together colorful, comically anachronistic sets and costumes along with full-scale musical numbers set to pop-era tunes to create an entirely unique fairy tale experience. The idea was to forge the look of a candy-hued dream from which his tale of triumphant love and freedom emerges – with colors so turned-up and vivid they might have come from the marriage of a Warner Bros. cartoon with a Technicolor classic.

Early on the decision was made to shoot the film entirely in Ireland, using the rolling green hills and lush forestry for which the country is renown as the film's backdrop, as well as relying on Dublin's well-equipped Ardmore Studios for building the extensive sets. "It's the land of fairies,” says O'Haver of his decision to take cast and crew to the Emerald Isle. "There's something magical about just being in Ireland and it seemed to have everything we needed, except for blue skies. It rained a lot, so we used the computer to create that perfect, unbelievable blue.”

To bring the film's "medieval mod” look to life, the filmmakers turned to production designer and three-time Oscar nominee Norman Garwood (whose credits include Terry Gilliam's visual masterpiece "Brazil” as well as Steven Spielberg's fantasy adventure "Hook”). Garwood had been the art director for Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits,” one of Tommy O'Haver's favorite films – and garnered further fairy tale experience on Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride.”

Garwood began his work by conducting extensive research into authentic medieval design, from modest, timber-framed village houses to Gothic castles with flying buttresses. "I decided that it would be best to get the medieval period right and then twist in little bits of modern times that would make the humor come out,” he explains. "Once the research is done, you can go to extremes and have fun with it.”

And have fun Garwood did. He kicked things off with Frell, which Tommy O' Haver had described as a "medieval-style Midwestern suburbia.” In Frell, Garwood's piece de resistance was the medieval mall, the "Galleria of Frell,” a two-story structure complete with stores like "Wands R Us” and finished off with charming walkways, arched bridges and a hand-cranked, wheel-driven wooden escalator.

For Giantville, Garwood looked to ancient Scandinavian and Celtic designs for "big” inspiration, filling their wedding hall with open-pit fires, kilns and majestic carved timbers. "I wanted to bring a sense of humor to these giants,” he says. "We've seen giants in films before so I wanted them to have a world that's recognizable but filled with unique touches.” Then came the great city of Lamia, where Ella travels in her quest to break the curse of obedience. Garwood modeled Lamia after the ultimate modern city: New York. "We wanted to make it look like Downtown Manhattan,” he explains. "only with soaring castles in place of skyscrapers. The reference I used for the skyline was a classic photograph of New York from the ‘40s. Then I took that photo and sketched a medieval, castellated façade over it, giving it a familiar but entirely new look.”

Continuing with humor, Garwood even added medieval taxis to his design. "These were also based on New York cabs,” he explains, "only they were traditional carriages painted ochre yellow and with a checkered stripe!” "Norman Garwood created the perfect Middle Ages metropolis,” sums up Tommy O'Haver.

The King's castle in Lamia was one of the film's most elaborate sets, designed in part to imitate the kind of autocratic architecture that was popular in World War II era Germany and Italy. "I wanted to reflect the cunning and megalomania of Edgar,” says Garwood. "So for the Great Hall, I created a big space that is very uncluttered but has elements of

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