It was unthinkable that a practical and inspiring area in human life, such as architecture, would not be the subject of the big screen. For this reason, architecture has always been a theme on the big screen. We can see the period life and city structure in every film shot, even when it is not mainly handled. That is enough to give us an overall idea. However, our subject today is not structures that appear and disappear. We will talk about films that take their issues from architecture. Since these productions make it possible to look at the most critical trends in the history of design with different eyes, we think that every architect and architect candidate should follow. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.
Metropolis, 1927, Fritz Lang
Metropolis is not precisely a construction based on architecture. It is better known as a science fiction movie. Moreover, it was the most significant budget building of its time. The film presents a dystopia on the effects of mechanization and developing technology on human life. While doing this, it is quite enjoyable to see the architectural elements that he uses.
Seeing how people from those years imagined the future is a very stimulating experience for any designer. The most prominent style of architecture in Metropolis is Art Deco. Seeing Art Deco in a futuristic production is surprising for us today. That is what makes Metropolis beautiful in the eyes of today’s architects.
Mon Oncle, 1958, Jacques Tati
Modernism is very important for the history of architecture. Today, we generally welcome modernism. There are, of course, significant criticisms of modernism in architectural studies. However, our habits regarding the experience of space mostly took shape during this period.
Even if every architect seems to embrace modernism, they cannot be fooled by that. Jacques Tati examines the impact of modernist architecture on human life after the Second World War in Mon Oncle. And in doing so, it knocks modernism down, unlike its contemporaries.
Mon Oncle focuses on the Arpel couple’s new home, which looks great from the outside. The house looks like it just jumped out of architecture magazines. Each point is equipped with the latest and most advanced technologies. But are the Arpels advanced enough to fit into this home?
Mon Oncle is an entertaining architectural critique and gives us one of the unforgettable cinema characters, Monsieur Hulot.
Blade Runner, 1982, Ridley Scott
With Blade Runner, a portrayal of the future awaits us again. Blade Runner, trying to predict Los Angeles of 2019 from 1982, offers quite interesting scenes while doing this.
In the dark future of Blade Runner, technology is very advanced in the world, and it is almost impossible to distinguish between humans and robots. However, it is impossible to say the same development for the city where the events took place, Los Angeles. A unique dark architectural structure has been formed in the town where the old and the new overlap in a distorted way. Blade Runner is an inspiring and thought-provoking movie with its excellent handling and visuals.
Fountainhead, 1949, King Vidor
Fountainhead is one of the most famous architectural-themed productions. Adapted from Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name, the film can be regarded as a critique of modernism. The main character has evident principles in the production, which is about the rapid change in the architecture sector and an architect who stands against “corruption” in his own eyes. The character, who does not intend to give up these principles for the sake of neither the rapidly changing perception of architecture nor popular culture, literally confronts the whole world throughout the film.
A production with its potent visuals and expressions, Fountainhead is one of the movies that should not be missed by those working in architecture.
In the second part of our architecture and cinema article, we continue to introduce you to the productions shaped around architecture’s central theme. Even if you are not interested in architecture, you may want to give these films full of inspiring visual expressions a try.
Play Time, 1967, Jacques Tati
When it comes to reflections of architecture in cinema, Tati is one of the first names that come to mind of many interested in the subject. In our previous article, we talked about the director’s famous Mon Oncle movie. This time we want to introduce Play Time.
Play Time is quite similar to Mon Oncle in terms of the thoughts it conveys to the audience on architecture. In the middle, there is a production that strikes modernism and makes fun of it.
However, while Mon Oncle makes this criticism on housing, Play Time is now expanding to the city scale. Monsieur Hulot, the indispensable character of Tati’s architectural criticisms, is also featured in this movie. (By the way, let’s also point out that it was the director himself who played Hulot.)
Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014, Wes Anderson
Is architecture full of pessimism every time it reflects on the cinema? Is criticism the only thing architecture does on the big screen? But does everyone have to enjoy it?
Of course, we cannot expect anyone who is not interested in architecture to enjoy dark criticism. Anyone can watch these productions, but it is necessary to know the subject to absorb the desired ideas.
In the Grand Budapest Hotel, on the other hand, the central theme is not architecture. A much more human story is being told. However, in the meantime, it is impossible not to admire the images presented to the audience. Reflecting Wes Anderson’s unique aesthetic understanding, the Grand Budapest Hotel is an excellent example of how production can inspire an architect without talking about architecture.
My Architect: A Son’s Journey, 2004, Nathaniel Kahn
You must have heard the name of Louis Kahn, who is considered among the most famous architects of our age. However, like many architects whose works we know almost by heart, we know little about Kahn’s private life.
This documentary, which results from his son’s five-year research after Kahn’s death, is an excellent opportunity to get to know the architect. The production offers Kahn to the audience as a human being, stripping all of the theories on architecture and her designer identity. It is quite interesting to see a name that brings a new breath to the world of architecture with its designs in this way.