Hannah Bleacher and the Inside Scoop on the Black Panther Production Design #BlackPantherEvent
Hannah Bleacher is the Production Designer on Black Panther, and I am sort of obessed with her work along with the work of Ruth E. Carter who is the Costume Designer. So obsessed that even though we interviewed them together….I had to give them each a separate blog post so that I could get all of my thoughts out on each topic. So after you read this blog post be sure to check out what I have to say about Ruth E. Carter and the Costume Design. Before I begin, let me give you the definition of what a Production Designer is responsible for. A Production Designer is responsible for the Overall look and feel that a film has. Hannah is the person who was responsible for bringing Wakanda to life and creating the feel, that many of us currently have, which is “Where is this Wakanda? Because I want to go?”
In chatting with Hannah, we know that the creation of Wakanda started with a vision board and a lot of research. In our interview she revealed, that creating Wakanda was heavily dependent on Wakanda’s location in Africa. It’s location ultimately determined the look and feel of Wakanda. So during pre-production they settled on putting Wakanda in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. That meant the surroundings of fictional Wakanda was “Kibuye, Kenya, Uganda, above Uganda, Sudan.” Hannah then began the work on the constructional and architectural aspect of Wakanda and she decided to “reach into Nigeria, Lagos.” She took some time to do some research in Nairobi and the bigger cities around — and Kenya and in South Africa, Joburg, and Cape Town just for some of the architecture. Specifically the older architecture and the land. She then researched where each tribe lived on the lands (she researched and why. Upon compiling all of her research she created our fictional Wakanda, which in her words “There is a story and reason behind everything you see on that screen coming from me.”
Now any TRUE Black Panther fan would definitely agree that Hannah Bleacher created a Wakanda with a meaning, a Wakanda that has it’s own story, but also a Wakanda that feels familiar to the comic book itself. I happen to be from a family of comic book fans and well it was immediately pointed out that Hannah created the Wakanda that fans grew to love during the Ta-Nehisi Coates run of Black Panther, called Black Panther: World of Wakanda.
I am sure you see the similarities between the two versions of Wakanda that help keep the movie authentic to the comics, but with a more futuristic feel and Hannah’s own flair for the movie.
Keeping it moving, Hannah made a point of saying that everything had a meaning. She expounded on that by adding “oh, my gosh. But it is so, intentional. And really meaningful and thoughtful and everything that we did from the colors to the every little thing.” Well, before she even said that to us during the interview there was something that literally popped out to me that I was wondering if it was intentional. Let me see if you can see it.
I just kept seeing triangles. In the back of Shuri’s head were downward angled triangles, the triangle on the poster was pointing upward at T’challa, in the Dora Milaje’s costumes, Dania also has downward pointing triangles on her bald head, the points in the lettering to the title images form pointing triangles, and so many more triangles throughout the movie. This question was literally burning my tongue. Did Hanna purposely use the Triangles in the film?
So as we were going to take our group picture I snuck in my own quick question and asked Hannah if she purposely used the Triangles in the movie and she said yes. I squealed because I know exactly what that means. So let me fill you in. The Triangle is a sign of strength, out of all the shapes the Triangle is the strongest one. Downward facing triangles represent the Water Element and they are a sign of: Purification, healing, and peace. Upward facing triangles represent the Fire Element and they are a sign of: Courage, strength, and passion. Okay here is the most important part: A downward pointed triangle represents feminine energy and an upward facing triangle is masculine energy, it is sometimes referred to as a blade. Notice that the women bare the downward triangle and the upward triangle points to T’challa. Yasss I am A Nerd and was tickled pink behind this little discovery, but it only makes the symbolism of the film that much deeper.
Ruth on bringing the Beauty of Africa to Black Panther
This is like really cool how you can mix ancient indigenous tribal culture with modern. We don’t want to make a documentary. This is a futuristic place. This is a place that has the richest mineral known on earth, Vibranium. And, you know, they’re aware of it. They’re aware of their richness. So, let’s just move that forward. Looking at Afropunk, those images that you see on your phone, going through your Instagram, you see that beauty. And that’s some of the beauty that we wanted to infuse. And when you see the Dora Milaje, you see the Maasai tribe, you see the Himba. The same drape that that girl in the grocery store pushing the cart had in front of her body with the little ringlets on the end of the leather, I put that on the back of the Dora Milaje so that when they walked in the room, Ryan Coogler said I wanna hear them.
Through hard work and dedication Ruth created us the Wakanda that we are trying to book plane tickets to. She created a world that made us remember how amazingly, beautiful Africa is and I am thankful that she shared with us her Wakanda.
Black Panther is in Theaters everywhere. So don’t forget to get your tickets to Wakanda!
Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
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