Theory of Cinematic Architecture


Battleship Potemkin(1925)Sergei Eisenstein

How could we see films architecturally? Do films intrinsically only give you stories you’ve never seen before or hints for your life, having cinéplex anywhere and seeing them through internet-delivery service as more than a hundred years have passed since we have them? Is watching films in the cinema just for dating couples or entertainment for families? Is there anything to see on old films anymore as they are just old?

Here we propose to “take a look at films architecturally” for one who likes them but can’t watch them for any reason or doesn’t know how to connect films with architecture even though you are in the architectural or design field.

How do you say if you try to find and analyse any architectural part in it? There is something you could see such as just the design of things, how architecture is used, its relation to people or their lives, emphasising the beauty of materiality, exploring the meaning of space, set design, the structure of a story or even seeing architecture as a part of city rather than just a building …etc. There must be a variety of things to be found in films. In this way, there are substances of architecture even in the old films as well and they are very close by. For instance, there are a number of film clips of “Battleship Potemkin” (1925) by Eisenstein on YouTube and you can see a basis of film-making technique in the scene of “Odessa steps” with its invisible flow and optical illusion created by editing. It’s easy to imagine the connection with the influence of Avant-garde activity since the rise of architects of constructivists in Russia in the same period as Eisenstein’s.

Seeing series of works by Yoshishige Yoshida visually, especially in the beauty of his “Purgatory Eroika (Rengoku Eroika)” (1070) with composition and perspectives of frames, and his representation of existing architectural and urban space as they couldn’t afford the filming in studio as they are low-budget films that are all futuristic and extreme, we can refer to what the film’s suggesting viewer’s position and what only visual elements could explain the narratives in order to design an architectural composition.

Likewise, “Everything is Born at Night (Subete Wa Yoru Kara Umareru)” (2002) by Kaida Yusuke is not a film everyone knows. However, as it’s filed as if the 1970s, this film suggests how to represent cities as the foreign substances are all taken out and only minimal space is left made of light and darkness.

Heroic Purgatory(1970)Yoshishige Yoshida / Everything is Born at Night(2002)Yusuke Kaida

In this way, there are possibly a variety of links to unique films, in art-oriented films and in experimental films. Further, in order to discover the architectural movie, it is not necessary to look for masterpieces. There is no need to pursue only the goodness of the story too. For architecture only architectural films are worthwhile. There are some other filmmakers who are architecturally interesting we didn’t talk about here. Why don’t you come along to our event, or discuss otherwise just contact us when you find any architectural film.