The Production Design
Color, Claustrophobia and Character
Crafting the Glass Universe
For production designer Chris Trujillo, the Allentown State Hospital also
helped guide the overall look of the film. "To go into those big, old derelict
facilities and see all of that turn-of-the-century grandeur is incredible," he
says. "And the fact that it was designed for the purpose of a mental health
facility is also really interesting. It gave us insight into what that world
The holding rooms for each of the three main characters - Dunn, Price and
Crumb - had to be both visually in sync with the design of the overall hospital,
but also be retrofitted to control each man's particular powers. Character and
story drove design. "Each room is tailored to who each of those men is,"
producer Rajan says. "David Dunn, who has a weakness for water, is in a room
with a water system that can spray water at him if he tries to escape. The Horde
[Crumb] is in a solitary room with lights that can control his personality
changes, and Mr. Glass [Price] is in a padded room so that he's not able to
break his bones. The rooms each have a personality, given the character."
Dunn's water-system room was particularly challenging to design, Trujillo
says. "It was a lot to conceptualize, to figure out how to make that set really
interesting and striking but also believable. The materials had to exist in the
real world, and it had to be something that could conceivably be created." The
results speak for themselves.
In general, Trujillo wanted to employ a subtle design aesthetic, but to use
color in very specific and strategic ways. "There's a very clear color theme
running through all of the sets and the costuming," Trujillo says. "The color
quality is very specific in places so that the audience knows our intention. One
space may have a desaturated, almost claustrophobic vibe and another may be more
saturated, a little louder color. We're trying to be very specific about what
we're suggesting about the psychology of the characters, based on the color of
the spaces. That's very deliberate."
Nowhere is that more evident than in the room where Dr. Staple treats Dunn,
Crumb and Price together, in a sort of superhero group-therapy session. "It's
this enormous, fabulous room that is monochromatically in pink tones," Trujillo
says. "That was a little counterintuitive for me, but Night was very confident
about it, and it's pretty incredible. It's this hypnotic, Kubrick-ian, bizarre
room. That was a lot of fun."
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