This revelatory 12-minute film, wrought on a shoestring budget, listens in on the late Sir Ken Adam (celebrated for his production design on the early James Bond films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Barry Lyndon among many others), as he manoeuvres about a drawing table much like the one he used to commandeer at London’s Shepperton Studios.
For one last time, at age 93, cigar in hand, the legendary Sir Ken brandishes his Flo-Master, deploying a felt-tip pen as he recreates the designs he conjured for the supposedly nuclear blast-proof conference room, located below the Pentagon, the iconic “War Room” from the climax of 1964’s DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. While drawing, he anatomizes the fundamental spatial metamorphosis that this center of power went through across months of intense collaboration with the film’s director, Stanley Kubrick.
THIS IS THE WAR ROOM! was inspired by the fact that in 2001 I worked as a location scout for Sir Ken Adam’s last film in Berlin. Back then I literally stood behind him and watched the great illusionist of production design create his powerful drawings. I was able to see how Adam lets the spatial ideas flow as fast as his imagination and hands allow. The goal of this film is to show the magical artistic process of creating cinematic space.
The War Room as the key set in Stanley Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE considerably affected popular conceptions about a room in which decisions of worldwide impact are made. My short documentary gives an insight into how this iconic space was shaped through the expressive drawings by Adam. It can be viewed as a flip-book thriller. During the course of the film the architecture changes dramatically to culminate in the now iconic rendering of the subterranean power center.
Sir Ken Adam on Set