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The Style OF Seven Pounds
The look of Seven Pounds is suffused with an urgency and unfolding beauty that Gabriele Muccino felt would bring what he calls "an extra layer of storytelling” to the movie. "I wanted the look to be stylized,” the director says, "because Ben's mind is somewhat tweaked. He's living in a bubble so he sees the world differently – it's a very beautiful world that surrounds him, yet he feels detached from it. He sees other people experiencing the beauty but he can't, until he meets Emily.”

To find the right aesthetic for the movie, Muccino recruited French cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd, who recently shot Ridley Scott's Provence-set romantic comedy, A Good Year. "I had worked with Philippe on a commercial and felt he was unbelievably talented,” says Muccino. "Together we used famous paintings as references and I felt that Philippe was almost able to paint the movie. He starts with everything in a very bleak place and unravels that into a very bright and colorful world.” 

A similar transformation is found in the work of production designer Michael Riva, who previously worked with Muccino on The Pursuit of Happyness. Riva explains: "Initially, the whole design is tainted by Ben's inner vision of the world so we used a very sort of dark, warped palette and details on the sets were drained of color only to later explode into rich magentas. After Ben meets Emily, everything that's dark and bland becomes more and more colorful.” 

Riva notes that last year's breathtakingly visual screen adaptation of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, directed by the painter Julian Schnabel, had an inspirational effect on him, as did the 1960s French film The Things of Life, a haunting portrait of a man's regrets, directed by Claude Sautet. "They both have a lyricism and a beauty that I wanted to see in Seven Pounds,” he explains. 

Scouting across Los Angeles, Riva also worked closely with Muccino to develop the personal environs for each of the characters. "Emily and Ezra, for example, each have their own signature environment,” he explains, "with different looks and different feelings that speak to their personalities. So the colors in Emily's house are very vibrant and bold, whereas everything around Ezra is very Spartan, organized and simply functional.” 

One scene where the vision of Muccino, Le Sourd and Riva all come together is the moment when Ben and Emily connect in a lush, wide-open field far from the rush of the city. The scene was always central to Muccino's blueprint of the film and he pushed his artistic team to make it happen in the way he envisioned. Recalls Riva: "Gabriele told us he wanted to create a very Tuscan, romantic, sentimental feeling for that scene. But here we are in the middle of a desert and I didn't know of any place like that in Los Angeles! We looked and looked and looked. And amazingly at last we found this big, beautiful field of tall grass in Charmlee Park in Malibu – and it was just what Gabriele wanted.” 

Producer Jason Blumenthal says of the sequence: "It's one of the most romantic scenes I've ever seen. The two characters never even touch—that's how powerful the relationship is – and yet now, none of us can imagine the movie without it.” 

Muccino had long intuited the scene in the field would be a visual linchpin of what drives the romance between Ben and Emily. He says, "For me it was a way to display the sense of life surrounding Ben and Emily, these two humans lost in a moment of profound natural beauty.”

For the whole filmmaking team, Muccino's commitment to pulling as much emotion and love out of every scene became an unending source of motivation. "Gabriele was constantly telling the producers, Will, Rosario and the whole cast and crew, this is a love story first and foremost and never lose sight of that,” recalls


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