How to Tell a Story with a Chair

An inside look at how the Coen Brothers, Francis Ford Coppola, and more augment their films with furniture.

by Beckett Mufson
03 June 2015, 7:30pm

Screencaps via

As we've seen in movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Snowpiercer, and TV shows like Game of Thrones, production design can make or break a film. But in In Praise of Chairs, film essayist Tony Zhou zeroes in on the importance of one particular set piece in his new video. 

"One of the great things about detailed production design is that it pays off in unexpected ways. So today I explore the weird possibilities of that most common of objects: the chair," he explains in his Vimeo description. He shows us how a single seat can set a scene, embody a character's position of power, and represent characters themselves, using a couch in the Coen Brothers' Raising Arizona, a recliner in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part II, and an ornate armchair in Disney's UP as rich examples. 

Take a look at a few of these semi-famous furniture pieces in the images below, and listen to their importance in In Praise of Chairs above.

Watch more of Tony Zhou's film essays on Every Frame a Painting, and support his work on Patreon.


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