Fireplace Mantels That Set the Scene in Eight Classic Films

The design of a fireplace can be linked interchangeably with the term home. Fireplace mantels come in different styles and silhouettes and Hollywood has taught us that fireplace mantels can be the most important character in the scene of a film.

The placement of a fireplace usually sets the mood by creating an expression of amour or by building up the suspense for tragedy. The fireplace is linked as Hollywood’s ideal scene backdrop.

(1) Pa Bailey stated in It’s a Wonderful Life that “…satisfying a fundamental urge, it’s deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace…” If you have ever seen this classic, you are well aware that the film is pure Americana and represents the true meaning of the American dream.

(2) Viewed as one of the greatest films of all time is Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. This film is a perfect example of how fireplaces add an important role to landscape settings. The enormous Xanadu fireplace mantel, which appears to reach about 10 feet in height, is placed in several scenes throughout the movie, ominously indicative of Kane’s loss. There are two scenes in this film where the fireplace emphasizes the plot and adds significance to the storyline. One is when the sled Rosebud is thrown into the fire because it is seen as junk. The second one is where you see the stilled image of Kane’s portrait above the mantle dominating all the loneliness he surveys. These scenes add suspense and agony, perhaps even irony, not only affecting the characters in the film but also influencing the audience watching them.

(3) Fireplace mantels can create a romantic feel to the ambiance of a particular scene. Many are familiar with the classic episodes of Star Wars. In episode two, Attack of the Clones the films two major characters, Anakin and Padme, share a forbidden romance. The romance shared between the two come together in this one scene, which becomes an important facet in their love story. The scene illuminates the passion between Leia and Luke. Having the fireplace mantel in this scene creates a warm surrounding for the couple, thus adding to the elements of the plot.

(4) In the movie Titanic, the appearance of the fireplace mantel helps the setting by creating the representation of the upper class. The famous drawing scene is located in one of the upper level rooms. The fireplace is lit in the background and generates a darker light, which in turn glazes over both of the characters’ faces. This scene is one of the most important because it establishes the connection between both Rose and Jack when she asks Jack to paint her wearing only the necklace. Another scene within this film is towards the very end, where the architect of the ship stands in front of the fireplace looking at the clock and watching it move from one end to the other, realizing that there is no hope for the ship.

(5) The design of the fireplace mantels gives off a sense of plot in a movie whether adding a classic feeling decorated with dark mahogany or an eerie mood with a traditional finish. As illustrated in the movie The Birds nothing compares to the fireplace scene. The feeling of tragedy is lurking and the eerie design of the fireplace makes this scene extremely important to the storyline. The scene begins calmly with a conversation over tea and escalates to having a flock of irate birds swarming around them trying to attack.

(6) Most are aware of the supernatural film Beetle Juice that brought fear with laughter to young and old alike. The movie brings together both afterlife and the living structuring the storyline location within the home of the main characters. The home has a very quaint feeling to it, showing various points in the film in the living room where there is aged furniture and a rustic styled fireplace with a grimy mantle, giving off the sense of a ghostly presence. The importance of the setting adds to the ethereal sensation that the characters are in the company of ghosts.

(7) Along with the paranormal film mentioned above come others that possess the same sentiments such as the movie Young Frankenstein. Here, the fireplace is more deceiving than not and opens up a more mystical allusion. The fireplace mantel is actually hidden behind a bookshelf, which converts into a fireplace. The secret passages shown in the scenes carry out the spiritual and strange moods that are trying to be created from the plot.

(8) Meet the Parents may be one of a very few films that combines both humor and calamity. One of the most popular scenes presented is the one where Ben Stiller attempts to open a champagne bottle having the cork shatter the cremation urn that sits on top of the fireplace mantel. The urn instantly spills the remains of Grandma Brynes all over the carpeted floor, which instantaneously becomes the litter box for the family cat.

Fireplace mantels have a decor far different from any other home furnishing. They add warmth and comfort giving that feeling of security. Fireplace mantels can also add a touch of sophistication and elegance if that is your preference. The addition of a fireplace mantel can finalize the ideal vision of how one may want their home to look like. It can transform a home from being dark and uninviting to a warm country getaway.

Such an addition also allows that extra touch of luxury to a household thus creating the perfect atmosphere for family gatherings. It helps create that “final touch” and adds emphasis and ambiance to that special room. The feeling may be romantic, elegant and sophisticated, eerie or even warm and cozy. So, what kind of mood do you want to set with your fireplace mantel?

Mary J. Gibson

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