Regardless of plot, there are two things I always pay special attention to in movies: costumes and settings. And in Luca Guadagnino’s coming of age film Call Me By Your Name, placed in Northern Italy in 1983, the set design is surely a point of focus. Production designer Samuel Deshors and first-time set decorator Violante Visconti di Modrone (Luchino Visconti’s grandniece) looked for a nostalgic yet eclectic and lived-in look and feel of the 17th century Lombardian villa that acted as the main set – the Italian director’s intimate knowledge of the region was what led him to Villa Albergoni in Moscazzano, near the town of Crema. The villa was basically empty when they first went in, Visconti recollected in an interview for The Spaces, so she had to give the house life and each room a story of its own. In the film, the entire villa is filled with antiques, books, music, paintings, objects of art, furnishings found in antiquarians or taken from other Italian houses, blending cosiness with grandeur; it looks like a family home with history. “Not everything has to sparkle, but everything must feel like it belongs,” the set decorator reflected.
That said, my being the tennis fan that I am, one of the first things that I immediately spotted was the official poster of the 1981 French Open on a wall in Elio’s room. I simply loved how that single piece of tennis memorabilia (although there are various ’80s references in the room) was able to set the film in time so easily. Speaking of which, starting with 1980, the grand slam tournament has entrusted its official poster to an artist every year. It’s a cultural symbol, just like the Cannes Festival poster. The 1981 drawing featured in the film was designed by the Spaniard Eduardo Arroyo. In just a few pencil strokes, he captured the spirit of the Roland Garros – a tricolor headband that tames the blonde hair as seen from behind of one of the world’s legendary tennis players and French Open winners, Björn Borg (he was the previous year champion and would be the winner again in 1981, setting his overall Roland Garros titles at six). Simple. Effective. Unforgettable.
photo: Guilio Ghirardi | movie set from “Call Me By Your Name