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Once complete, the expansive world that was built from that guide sprawled across one of continental Europe’s largest soundstages, Korda Studios in Budapest, and it was so large that it took half an hour to walk the entire set. Though select scenes were shot on location, the vast majority were filmed on the soundstage, with meticulously crafted miniatures employed for shots of the city of Alexandria, the London Tower Bridge, and a grand home that appears toward the end of the film. Heath and Price insist the real challenge of the work wasn’t in devising the original look of the sets, but in actually manifesting them. “The sheer scale and amount of everything [was the challenge],” Heath says. “Everything had so much detail. Everything was three-sixty.” Considered textures catch the eye throughout, whether it be layered carpets, wall ornamentation, or stonework. Many of these elements were chosen to evoke the body or the feeling of slicing because of the importance of surgery to the central characters.

Absurd elements, like the extra large dining chairs and overhead heat lamps, blend with regular British decorating motifs, like plates on the walls in the dining room.

Courtesy of Searchlight

Rather than creating the Baxter home sets room by room, as many filmmakers might, the home was created in one piece, allowing the actors to easily flow from space to space on screen and adding a sense of realism to the otherwise surreal world. The Lisbon and Paris sets were constructed as their own small cities for Baxter to wander about as well, and practical lighting was used as much as possible, adding flexibility to the filming process. Though oddity can be impressive, what’s most notable about Poor Things is that it manages to feel grounded despite its glorious strangeness.

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