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How many times have you seen the protagonist’s home and wished that you would own it? Watched by millions around the world and a significant part of human culture, movies are the ignition point of a young mind’s journey towards their possible future career. From the ultra-modern houses of the future to the creepy crawlers in horror, Architecture in movies sets the tone and backstory to the entire plot of the film. Utopia is depicted with avant-garde postmodernist buildings guaranteed by the capitalist supremacy of the postindustrial era whereas dystopia is depicted with raw brutalist structures.
So, to understand what we actually mean, take a look at the below list of movies in which Architecture is used significantly to portray a myriad of emotions.
Written and directed by producer Spike Jonze, HER is a 2013 American Romantic Sci-Fi which follows Theodore, who develops a romantic relationship with an AI, Samantha. The English film’s plot follows the protagonist being sad and lonely with his impending divorce looming overhead. Subsequently, his space around him reflects his mindset, with an Architectural lack of interest. Yet, the movie is on this list, because you see, the film’s very cleverly designed portrayal sets the tone for the character, his home, and by extension the time when this takes place. Truly, a Masterpiece!
Blade Runner 2049
In architecture, no matter what year is meant to be portrayed, Brutalism is always used as a key element to depict dystopia. Cleverly used in the movie, the plot revolves about a Blade Runner who uncovers a secret that threatens to destabilize society and the course of human civilization, setting a mark for being one of the sci-fi’s best movies. Set in L.A., Brutalism is used as a key element to depict how the director envisions the future, devoid of beauty and cold. Ouch.
Black Panther, a marvel movie, follows the nation of Wakanda established 1000 years ago, which camouflaged itself as a third-world country. The architecture in the movies takes inspiration from Zaha Hadid’s projects and physically manifests elements of African culture which is represented in its architecture, from the Vernacular choice of materials to the modern blend of curves, this movie is a must-watch for Architects and design enthusiasts alike.
The Infamous, Inception is a notoriously ambitious movie that will have you itching to know the truth. The sci-fi best movies revolve around Leonardo DiCaprio, a professional subconscious thief teaming up with a brilliant Architecture student, Ariadne, who helps create complex mazes in the subconscious realm. Featuring an architectural optical illusion, Penrose staircase to the Parisian buildings folding onto themselves, this movie will give you the chills and a migraine.
A 1927 movie, Metropolis is an English film, widely known and applauded to be a masterpiece of Architectural sci-fi. With a plot set in a dystopian future (nothing new here), Lang’s movie direction is visually beautiful. From its Bauhaus, cubist, and futurist designs and touches of Gothic, this movie installs inspiration in every frame.
Stanley Kubrick’s master filmmaking has been projected in this movie, accelerating it to the top of the best Hollywood horror movies to watch. From the elevator projectile vomiting blood to the ghost bartender, this movie packs cleverly hidden Easter eggs at every turn, which only a trained eye can catch.
The Winchester House
Sarah Winchester’s mansion pioneers architecture in movies of Victorian-Style, and is the centerpiece of the movie “The Winchester House”. Cursed by spirits to never cease construction, it’s inspired by a TRUE story. The movie features Queen Anne Victorian-style interiors and the bags itself the classic “Creepy old mansion” status. From staircases that lead nowhere to doors that open to a death fall on mansion grounds, the house has it all. Today it is open to the public where it serves as a horror lover’s paradise.
Another classic, the movie portrays a house that consists of all the elements to qualify itself as a haunted BnB. And what’s more, it comes with its own burial ground surrounded by almost impossible to climb fortresses. The house consists of many rooms with an eerie feeling allowing a person to (Spoilers) slip back in time. Another feat for Architecture in movies.
The Haunting of the Hill House
Though a series, the story effectively uses a family home and turns it into a living, breathing being in itself. The dreaded Red Door is the center point around which the story revolves. Jumping back and forth in time, this series is a mind game that connects the end to the beginning. Architecture in movies has become a whole new ball game and this series doesn’t disappoint.
A classic, dealing with Satanists and their New York Apartment, this movie is claimed by many to be the best Hollywood horror movie ever. It revolves around Rosemary who falls in love with a man and carries his baby. During the pregnancy, she experiences the apartment being constantly chilly even on a summer afternoon, and extremely nosey neighbours. The ‘Bramford’, a Gothic building is a set and we can only hope you take our advice and watch this timeless classic.
Angels and Demons
The movie is based on famed author Dan Brown’s novel, Angels and Demons, following a Harward symbologist, Robert Langdon, who discovers the event of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood, Illuminati. As fast-paced as the book is, this movie genre type is equally engaging. It takes us around the city of Rome and the Vatican as Robert Langdon ventures deep in the search for clues. A must-watch for all who love adventure with old-world architecture.
The movie elaborates on the life of an architect Miles Moss, hired by a young couple to design their dream house. Although he takes into consideration the design details of the client, he ends up designing something he has always envisioned. The movie brilliantly portrays the multifaceted profession that is architecture. Definitely a class apart from other movie genre types.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I know, this movie is every child’s dream and a nightmare. But I personally think it is a masterpiece as far as edible Architecture goes. Based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl, the English film revolves around a boy, Charlie Bucket, and his family of 6 who goes from living under one, almost dilapidated roof, to owning the world’s most sought after chocolatiers factory. A Quintessential Tim Burton movie features the loopy-droopy dream-like aura, reflected in the architecture as well. If you haven’t already watched the movie, trust me, you’re missing out.
A staple in fantasy and fiction, the Harry Potter series features 8 movies and 7 books where J.K. Rowling takes you on a tumbling ride of adventures and vividly expressed Medieval Gothic architecture. From the Durham to Alnwick Castles, all in the U.K., these movie genre types decorate old-world architecture with the magical world of the franchise. You can visit this dreamy land for yourself in Universal Orlando Resort and the film set in London.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Presented by Wes Anderson, an Architectural Film Maker, the English film pays respects to European opulence in Gorlitz, Germany. With most of the scenes shot in the lobby of the 1913 Art Nouveau style building, the film features just about everything there is to Architecture. Set designers Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, undoubtedly did the movie justice.
“Architecture exists, like cinema, in the dimension of time and movement” – Jean Nouvel
Archiculture takes a thoughtful, yet critical look at the architectural studio. The 25-minute movie genre types offer a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of a group of students finishing their final design projects. Interviews with leading professionals, historians, and educators help create crucial dialog around the key issues faced by this unique teaching methodology and the built environment these future architects will create.
How much does your building weigh, Mr.Foster?
Following the works of the famous British architect, Norman Foster and his unending quest to improve the quality of people through design. This documentary collects the origins of the architect and how his dreams and influences inspired Beijing Airport and many other architectural Marvels.
Sketches of Frank Gehry
The English film covers the life and work of the Canadian-American architect, Frank Gehry, which was screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It contains various footage of Gary designing buildings and also discussing his work on his own residence.
Unfinished Spaces is a 2011 documentary film featuring three visionary Architects, Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti. The film tells the dramatic story of the art schools and the atmosphere of architecture in movies back in the day.
The Infinite Happiness
Following the lives of residents dwelling in an innovative 8 feet Housing Development, the documentary, The Infinite happiness, portrays a community building in Copenhagen designed by the Danish architect, Bjarke Ingles. The occupying tenants express their happiness and funny everyday stories. These movie genre types are truly an eyeopener we highly recommend you watch.
Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things
Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things explores the different aspects of Minimalism and its modern usage and its repercussions. The English film takes us inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life: families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker, all of whom are striving to live a non-materialist life.
The director very cleverly pans towards the dwelling of the protagonist or the architecture of a city before proceeding into a certain scene depicting the backdrop and time with Architecture as the medium, and this is no coincidence. Makes me wonder, what would the world be like without architecture and its depictions? Almost alien-like, and a boring one at that.
I hope the above list of different movie genre types helps you on your quest to find the perfect architecturally significant movie.