Here we go again! Exploring Mamma Mia 2 set decor
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was a box office hit in the summer of 2018, achieving a UK opening of £9.74 million. A real feel-good musical, the film was adored by the public and praised by critics. Guest writer Malcolm Pearce, whose company was involved in making a key prop for the film, talks us through his favourite scenes and the set decoration.
Arguably one of the most endearing elements of Mamma Mia 2 is the variety of locations, with scenes shot in Greece, New York, and not to mention young Donna’s travels around Europe. As a result of the vast geographical reach, the fun-loving sequel to Mamma Mia! has a number of different decor themes for each location.
Each film set is reflective of its geographical location, incorporating traditional elements of colour, furniture and style to help immerse the audience in the scene. We’re going to take a look at three scenes in particular which we feel effectively portray traditional decor and investigate how each set contributes to the meaning of the scene and helps to differentiate each location. Hopefully, you can rewatch this film – or watch it for the first time – with a better understanding of how the set decor affects the scene as a whole. Now let’s dive in!
- The Grecian bedroom
During this scene, we see Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) singing the ‘One of Us’ duet with her partner, Sky (Dominic Cooper). The sequence comes shortly after the two have had a tense phone call following Sky’s six-week stay in New York – which is potentially being extended indefinitely.
Despite Sophie’s turmoil, the light colours in the scene create an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, which is starkly contrasted with the interwoven shots of Sky’s hotel room in New York – we’ll discuss this later!
In traditional Grecian style, you would expect to see a lot of white and blue with minimal furniture, making the room feel spacious, light and airy. Here is an example of what we consider to be traditional Grecian decor:
In keeping with this style, Sophie’s bedroom features various shades of blue. The use of this fresh, pastel colour automatically evokes the image of the idyllic holiday setting. This means that, despite Sophie’s heartache, the room creates a sense of peace and calm and draws us into to the scene with her.
Another interesting thing to note is that Sophie’s bedroom has been slightly modernised in contrast to traditional Grecian decor: Her room has a few bright colours, such as the dashes of pink and yellow on the chair, the pink cushion, and the pink throw on the bed. By adding a splash of vibrant colour, the scene draws attention to the modernisation of traditional Greek furnishing.
Given that Sophie feels at home when she is on the island, it’s no surprise that the room feels homely and welcoming despite the turmoil she is going through. But how does this compare with Sky’s hotel room in New York?
- The New York hotel
In contrast to the idyllic and fresh decor of Sophie’s bedroom, Sky’s scene is set in a New York hotel room.
While there is a similar theme of blue running through both sets, the shade and tone of the colour differs dramatically. There is a much bolder and darker tone to the shade of blue in the hotel room, adding a contemporary feel that isn’t apparent in Sophie’s bedroom. The use of two different tones of blue in each room also illustrates the different lifestyle of both of these characters.
Another similarity is the use of contrasting colours within the same film set. In Sky’s hotel room, the dark blue is contrasted with a bold mustard yellow. Again, although the colour contrast is similar with what we see in Sophie’s bedroom, the difference in the tone of the colours is a sign of the opposing scenarios the couple find themselves in.
The similarities and differences within these two scenes plays a major part in representing the state of the relationship between Sophie and Sky. Despite their love for one another, they both want different things and are seemingly trying to follow different paths. Who knew that film sets could tell us so much about relationships?!
- The French bar
Moving on from Sophie and Sky, we’re now going to take a look at the scene where young Harry (Hugh Skinner) and Donna (Lily James) share their first musical number and start to fall in love.
Set in Paris, the bar has numerous elements that portray a traditional French scene which is perfect for young, budding love. We should point out the most obvious first – the giant French flag that is thrust over the bar and onto our screen:
Of course, there are other elements that contribute to the overall atmosphere. Take, for example, the bar area. As we look at the bar head on, we notice it is surrounded by ornate red velvet stools, an abundance of wine that is shelved behind the bar, and an image of Napoleon from battle of Waterloo hangs proudly in the midst of it everything. All of these small but important set details contribute to the traditional French feel.
The bar that you can see in this scene was designed by my company Customised Sheet Metal (CSM) – we’re sheet metal experts and were commissioned to design a bar top specifically suited for this scene. Having the right props and decor for a scene like this is absolutely vital. It helps create the right atmosphere for the actors and the audience watching at home. That’s why CSM were so glad that the production team contacted us to create the right piece for the movie – we might be biased, but we think it looks great!
There’s no doubt about it – the atmospheric French restaurant is the perfect setting for Harry and Donna to dance, sing, and start their romance. Without the extra detail of the French decor, this scene wouldn’t be as immersive and enjoyable to watch.