- Barry, John
- (1935–June 1, 1979)No relation to the famous film score composer of the same name, John Barry was recognized as one of Britain’s foremost production designers. He came to the film industry by way of architecture, in 1960, working as a draftsman on Cleopatra. He later described his contribution to that film as “the seventeenth draftsman from the left. ” He went on,“It wasn’t a very creative job, but it was enough. I fell in love with the movies,” Barry caught STANLEY KUBRICK’s eye as the art director of Decline and Fall of a Birdwatcher (1968), in which he elegantly evoked the world of Evelyn Waugh. As a result, Kubrick hired Barry to do some preproduction work on the ill-fated NAPOLEON, but when he postponed the project, Kubrick looked to Barry to design A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The film, with its outrageous vision of the not-too-distant future, epitomizes John Barry’s trademark design style: a combination of a streamlined, space-age look, and a futuristic wit. Although virtually all of A Clockwork Orange was shot on location, Barry’s contribution to the film’s singular look should not be underestimated. He and Kubrick spent countless hours poring over architectural magazines and other sources, indexing photographs in an elaborate, crossreferenced filing system, in order to find exactly the right location for every scene. Only a few scenes were shot in a studio, as fitting locations could not be found, and it fell to Barry to design those settings: the Korova milk bar; the prison check-in area; a mirrored bathroom; and the mirrored entryway of “Home. ” Barry won the Academy Award for production design for his work on Star Wars (1977), which he called “a gritty assignment. We were after a used look, as if the film had been shot on location in outer space. ” In his review of Star Wars for the New York Times, Vincent Canby called Barry one of the film’s “true stars. ” Barry was designing the first Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), when he died. His other credits include Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), and three films for producer Stanley Donen: Lucky Lady (1975), The Little Prince (1974), and Saturn 3 (1980; Barry himself was directing this film from his own story at the time of his death; Donen finished it himself ). Barry also served as SAUL BASS’s art director on Phase IV (1973), so he could indeed be called quite literally and justifiably a “designer’s designer. ”References■ Dingilian, Bob,“Biography: John Barry,” from Star Wars press book,Twentieth Century–Fox, 1977;■ “John Barry—At Home with Superman,” from Superman press book,Warner Bros. , Inc. , 1978;■ Maslin, Janet, “John Barry, Designer,Won Academy Award for ‘Star Wars’ Film” (obituary), New York Times, June 2, 1979, p. 19;■ Mason, Mary Moore,“This Looks Like a Job for . . . John Barry!,” TWA Ambassador, December 1978, 20+;■ Vallance, Tom, “John Barry,” Focus on Film 23 (winter 1974/75), pp. 9–10.
The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. Gene D. Phillips Rodney Hill. 2002.
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