In “Brooklyn,” Saoirse Ronan plays Ellis, a young Irish woman who leaves her hometown to travel to America and start life anew. “She went from one culture to another one,” explains production designer Francois Seguin during our recent webcam chat (watch below). He was tasked not only with recreating the look and feel of the 1950s, but with portraying the emotional journey the character takes as well.
One of the ways Seguin and his team achieved this was by playing with the size of the spaces Eilis inhabits. Of her home in Ireland, he says, “It’s a bit small: the house is small, the shop she works in is small. She is in a small town.” Upon arriving in America, everything is shown to be much larger. “She suddenly has room to grow. She goes from a little shop where it’s about 20’x20’ to a big department store. She does the same thing — she’s selling stuff — but suddenly, she’s in a big world. She has options. It’s a world that is open.”
Born in 1951, the year in which the film is set, the Canadian designer says of the period, “for me, it’s the golden age of America. The American dream culminates in the ‘50s up to basically 1970, and after that for all kinds of reasons it gets messed up. But for now, it’s after the war, and the future is yours if you can take it.” All of which, he believes, contributes to the maturation of Ellis. “She’s going to leave Ireland as a late teenager, a little mousy, a little unsure of herself, and she’s going to bloom and become a woman.”
Seguin received an Emmy nomination for his work on “The Borgias,” He’s currently ranked in 9th place amongst our experts to receive his first Oscar nomination for “Brooklyn,” with odds of 50/1. Check out our full interview below for more about his work on the film.
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“Brooklyn” photo credit: Moviestore/REX