Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hyde Park Style

One of the best films of the year (in my humble opinion - sadly the Oscar voters did not thinks so) was Hyde Park on Hudson, a beautifully designed and costumed biopic about one of  history's most beloved leaders Franklin Roosevelt. Played impeccably by Bill Murray, the story centers around the weekend visit of the  King and Queen of England at the family home in the idyllic countryside of upstate New York. War with Germany was knocking on the door as the Royals -- who were the first of their ilk to visit America  -- were seeking help from the United States. FDR manages to mix business and hospitality during their stay with plenty of extra-curricular activities  that include his love affair with fifth cousin Margaret  aka "Daisy" Suckley among others.

Bill Murray/FDR

Roosevelt (Bill Murray) greets the King and Queen
(Samuel West and Olivia Colman) at Hyde Park

The original Royals and Roosevelts...

and the film version

Laura Linney as Daisy

The real Hyde Park (Springwood) now a national historic site and open to the public....
and the entrance to the Hollywood version.

British production designer Simon Bowles created the 1939 interiors complete with balustrades, flags and a gravel driveway on a Georgian property in London.  Bowles took his cues from a visit to the original Hyde Park filled with artwork, porcelain collections, chintz furniture and elaborate draperies. Above is FDR's library where much of the film's activities take place.

As always, research played an integral role and fortunately, there was a wealth of material on the famed President and his life beginning with a 1939 copy of Life Magazine on the decor. Bowles even took great pains to recreate the president's oak wheelchair, right down to the exact placement of screws and bolts along with his collection of handmade stuffed birds and of course, his stamp collection.

Research material: 1939 copy of Life Magazine with
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on the cover provided insights on the interiors of Hyde Park

The design technique of the time - one singular fabric
 is used for the furnishings and draperies - was employed in the living room.

Queen Elizabeth seemed to wince at her blue and white toile wallpapered guest room...

While the King had a pink and white toile guest room.
And nothing says welcome like the portable bar on the bed

The scene of the dinner party for the Royals

Bowles brought vintage microphones from the US for FDR's infamous radio "Fireside Chats"

FDR's wheelchair was fashioned from a kitchen chair

Photo Credits: Simon Bowles/Focus Features