Preview: Ken Adam, National Film Theatre, London

The inside story of Strangelove
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The Independent Culture

"Working with Kubrick was never easy. He was very difficult," says Adam. "He was very demanding - full of brilliant ideas - and every time he changed his mind, it created difficulties, particularly when I had already built the sets.

"Initially, I designed the war room on two levels, but two weeks later Kubrick wanted it redesigned," says Adam. "The final design was triangular in shape and looked like a gigantic bomb shelter. I put in a round table, which he wanted covered in green felt even though it was a black-and-white picture, because he wanted the actors to feel they were playing a poker game for the fate of the world."

There is also the circular light fitting on top of the table with which Kubrick decided to light all the war room scenes. "He experimented for a long time to see how he would achieve it," says Adam. He also came up with the idea of reflecting enormous display maps showing the progress of the B52 bombers on the floor. "I used a very shiny black surface on the floor, like a mirror finish, so the display maps were reflected to give an eerie feeling to the whole set."

Adam worked very closely with Kubrick during filming. "He insisted that I drove him every day to and from Shepperton studios. It was pretty intense."

The most difficult challenge? "When Slim Pickens as Major TJ 'King' Kong rode the atom bomb like a horse into the Russian missile complex, there was a problem. I had created bomb doors that did not open. But we came up with a solution using special effects."

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