Magic Moments

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Pennies From Heaven (US 1981, Herbert Ross)
Pennies From Heaven (1981), as sketched by Mr. Adams.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    An exhibition reveals how Ken Adams designed movie sets for films from Dr. Strangelove and You Only Live Twice to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, creating classic cinematic images.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Ken Adam is a German-born British production designer most famous for making scenes for James Bond films.
    • Mr. Adam says “the circle” is the most common element in his work.
    • Influences from his boyhood in Berlin can be seen in many of the designs.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin’s museum of film and television, is celebrating the man central to the imagery of 007, the legendary production designer Ken Adam.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s dream in the 80s of an anti-missile defense shield in space, including the use of highly specialized laser cannons, had long been a reality in James Bond films, seen as early as 1971 in Diamonds are Forever. In that film, villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld used laser satellites to blackmail the nuclear powers. Luckily, 007 was around to thwart him.

It’s quite possible Reagan was inspired by the film, considering that when he took office, he supposedly looked for the “war room” he remembered from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satirical black comedy, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Mr. Adam, who was Mr. Kubrick’s production designer for Dr. Strangelove, enjoyed telling that story since he was the creator of the “war room” set, making him responsible not only for Mr. Reagan’s mistake but also for the “star wars” on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, the site of the Deutsche Kinemathek.

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