‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’: The influence of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat Temple on the design of key sets
James Merifield, the show’s production designer, imagined he’d be going to Cambodia or some other exotic jungle to build an important set on location when he originally signed on for “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” In spite of this, he ended up erecting the season finale set at Black Park, Slough, due to the epidemic.
Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays the alien humanoid Faraday
Who crashes his spacecraft deep in New Mexico, in the continuation of the novel authored by Walter Tevis and the iconic film starring David Bowie published in 1976. Naomie Harris’s character, Justin Falls, is the only individual on the planet who can help save his species.
Episode 9 has Pressman Thorn (Bill Nighy) waiting for Falls and Faraday after they are kidnapped. There are monks sitting and meditating as a suit-clad man approaches them. The person you’re looking for is Thomas Newton, previously Pressman Thorn.
The temple in Cambodia, Angkor Wat, was the inspiration for this cave. When it came to designing the jungle and lair sets, Merifield turned to the internet for inspiration.
Angkor Wat inspired him to use palm trees, vines, and alien foliage to create a jungle-like effect. Merifield proudly proclaims, “We constructed Cambodia at Black Park. “The remainder was left to CGI set extensions,” says Merifield, who only erected the trees 20 feet tall.
Roots were fashioned from pipe lagging
a material commonly used to insulate pipes in colder climates. In order to give the trees a more realistic appearance, James Merifield says, “We covered them with plaster to give them that textured touch.” Merifield explains that the moss around the temple was manufactured from sawdust. For this, the pebbles were covered in paint, dye, and glue.”
Merifield’s building crew chose a rundown old warehouse in Wembley
There is a huge bell with lanterns and a group of monks praying at the end of the episode in the lair. For practical lighting, he says, those were the fixtures.
He also collaborated with concept artists to ensure that there were stunning rays of light. “I had the impression that the enormous fissure in the ceiling that gives that shaft was caused by the roots of trees. Eventually, as the tree’s roots grew deeper and deeper into the dirt, the crack expanded wider as the roots pushed further into the earth. That allowed the DP and the gaffer to light it in that manner.”
Merifield initially had to locate a large enough bell for the temple’s shrine bell
To paraphrase him, “size” is everything. Because that bell was fashioned of polystyrene and fiberglass by a prop builder, I paid him to do that.” With its cast timber frame, it’s a wonderful prop but a pricey one,” says the director.
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