7. Gone With the Wind (1939)
Hands down one of the most beautiful and dramatic films of all time, Gone With the Wind holds our attention every time we see it. From the sunsets to the costuming to the gorgeous sets, this movie raised the standard of what good filmmaking really could achieve. Not only was the usage of Technicolor in it’s infancy and therefore harder to shoot in, the scenes had to be retouched with precision. Areas to be touched up later were demarcated through matte black paintings on glass filters, a technique which was used anytime an element of the background needed to be filled in. This kind of pain-staking work created the stunning visual effects in this epic film. It is worth noting that for the burning of Atlanta scene, sets from other films were used, including parts of the King Kong set.
6. The Shining (1980)
Using the newly invented Steadicam, Kubrick takes us on a journey through the hotel, following Danny as he wheels across the floor on his tricycle. This shot perfectly exemplifies the intricate set design that makes this movie fantastic while also giving the audience a sense of the vastness of the hotel and repetition of day-to-day life all in one go. Scenes like these may be used quite frequently in films now using a variety of techniques, but back then it was new concept which brought art into a horror films.
The haunting visuals are inspired by the best aspects of design from all eras, combining Art Deco with Mod designs. The set design for The Shining was impeccable, with each area revealing the mood of the characters. The set was designed to be intentionally confusing to the viewer and it worked well to keep us in a state of suspense throughout this intense and unforgettable film.
5. The Ten Commandments (1956)
With a truly amazing performance from Charlton Heston, this film takes epic to a whole other level. With breath-taking scenes and fanciful costumes, The Ten Commandments tells the story we’ve all heard since our Sunday school days, but with intensity and flourish. This Easter favorite used a whopping 14,000 actors to complete the large scale scenes.
While the source material for the film is varied, historical and religious experts were consulted by Cecil DeMille and by staff throughout production to ensure historical accuracy on all fronts. And the costume design is on par with some of the grandest films ever produced, from Moses’ hand-woven robe to the seductive costume of Nefertiti. The sheer man-power, determination, and volume of actors is simply mind-boggling.
Watch Heston perform one of the many iconic scenes from the film below.