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Filmcraft: Production Design by Fionnuala Hannigan

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Legacy John Box

John Allan Hyatt Box was a master of illusion, nicknamed “the magician” by his crews: he gave us images we’ll never forget, although almost all of them were sheer, shimmering illusions. The Russian “snow palace” in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) was, in fact, shot in Spain’s Almeria desert in the height of summer using candle wax. The sight of Omar Sharif flickering out of the horizon in the director’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was again a piece of movie trickery, also shot in Spain. “We painted the desert black, giving a composition to take your eye into this mirage coming,” recalled Box of that iconic scene. He created China in Snowdonia, Wales (The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, 1958) and he shot Carol Reed’s Our Man in Havana ...

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