Elena is Andrey Zvyagintsev's movie based on the original screenplay by Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev.
Here, in difference from the previous feature film "The Banishment", full of symbolism, Andrey decided to turn closer to reality.
Heroes are two families. Vladimir is a wealthy person, confident in his future. He is intelligent and rational. Openness of his apartment is a mark of his force. In opposition to Elena's son interior we decided to do his home pure. Nostalgia on golden time of the Danish design led by Arne Jacobson was the visual azimuth for his house. It was almost impossible to find place as we imagined, so we decided to build apartment in the studio.
The idea of his place was in freedom and peace, openness, when you can see any room from another, and all apartment is open for the city. This peace at the same time is horror for Elena who has no place to hide from her crime. All rooms ascetic and has men's design and only one small room is given to Elena. Walls are deprived of any decor, pictures, wall-papers. With that clean set design we had no possibility to create life with details. The only way in creating real world around the apartment. The credibility was attained by huge backdrops and trees behind the windows, with a full control over atmosphere, rains, wind, sunrise.
Set in the studio plot. You can notice difference between Vladimir's and Elena's apartments.
Key point to achieve reality was distance. The decision was to use backdrops most far from windows and place real objects to background, instead of traditional 4 meters, the distance has been increased to 10. Such distance allows us to work comfortably with light and with camera movement, the perspective truly works, the horizon moves together with the camera, remaining always in the centre. Trees without foliage have been established between a background and a balcony for volume and bigger depth, also they helped to show wind and air perspective. On trees crows occasionally sat, an environment of a water suspension with drops on branches was created. The DOP Mikhail Krichman lifted the sun in a shot.
For the backdrop i made a series of shots, combined them in 270 degree panorama. The backdrop was 70 meters by 10 meter. We had no possibility to reinstall it with the other state of light, so we did night from a day background. We put masks behind the backdrop and switched lights in windows.
The design of the apartment was based on the combination of simple volumes with the complicated finish. That results use of veneer in finishing of set and furniture.
Wood in interior finish:
Floor – the American nut, panels an office – the American nut, bedroom panels + the door – Daniella, doors oar + boxes – Makassar, sliding doors in a bathroom (panels in the aluminum shape) – Lauro Preto, sliding doors in a bedroom – Makassar, doors in the cabinet(5 pieces) – tineo.
the console at the corridor – Lauro Preto, a pier-glass – black rosewood Santos, a table – black rosewood Santos, kitchen – ofra, a dresser kitchen – Lauro Preto
Elena's room was the only room in the apartment with wall-papers. The main thing in it is the mirror and a wall with photos of her family. Contrary to other spaces, it is quite close here, it has not enough light, the window is driven into the corner. The idea was to show Elena's place in the life of Vladimir. She lives separately, unequally, with memory and care of her son.
Family of Elena’s son were the fallen inhabitants without hopes. Their area has been defined by expressive emerald pipes of power plant in combination with mass construction of 1980th. Set was not thought out, but combined from observations of real interiors. The set is intentionally tight, despite the seeming opportunities of using movable walls and increased room space for convenience of the camera. The interior style was in combination of varnish surfaces, veneered cabinets, narrowness and clutter, which is a consequence of poverty. In total this divisibility integrated in brown and olive colours of decay.
Set was constructed as much as possible from used elements. Windows, doors, accessories undertook from houses under demolition. The contrast combination of plastic and a wood, second hand things, with history. That mix of objects remained from grandfathers and parents together with modern things gives feeling of the present.
Director Andrey Zvyagintsev
Screenplay Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev
DOP Mikhail Krichman
Production Designer Andrey Ponkratov
Set Decorator Maxim Korsakov
Props Alexandr Losovsky
Set Builders Sergey Kotov, Andrey Grachev