Arch 443/646: Architecture and Film
Fall 2009

Equilibrium (2002)
Kurt Wimmer, director


Discussion Questions:

Please answer the questions below. Use paragraph form. Your answer should be around 400 words. Email me your responses in Word .doc format to: I will be posting these each week after the class. You should be prepared to deliver your answer in class -- but paraphrase, do not read it. There are 28 students and we can take no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes for our discussions.

Please reference other course films as indicated. If I have not indicated the use of other films, please feel free to include any that you think might be of significance to your question.


updated Saturday, January 2, 2010 10:36 PM


1. Matthew Barbesin

(Re)interpretation of this symbol and its use throughout the film. Compare to the use of symbols or geometric graphics in The Cube.

The movie Equilibrium makes use of the Tetragrammaton, which is an occult mystic symbol, specifically from Kabbalism, or Jewish mysticism. The Tetragrammaton, or the Great Four Letters are the following: Yod He Vau He, and is the great and unpronounceable sacred word, YHVH. This is where terms like Jehovah and Yahweh come from. It was also used in Nazism to represent their ideology, which was totalitarianism. I believe the later was the connection in which the movie was trying to make, although I’m sure there was some religious reference (the head official being called the “Father).

Cube, on the other hand, doesn’t make use of very many blatant symbols or geometric graphics in the movie. However, one can see the rooms as being a geometric graphic, and the mathematical process, which is a process of rationale, to be their salvation and meaning. This is in direct contrast to Equilibrium, where the order and rationale of the people led to chaos.

Both movies talk about the human condition and how we act under atypical situations. These atypical situations were being displayed through the use of symbols and graphics to not only the setting, but the wardrobes as well. In Equilibrium, the symbol’s iconography is blatant and literal (clear reference to the Nazi Regime), and in the Cube, the symbols are subtle and expressive. In Equilibrium the graphics speak to the nature of the world the characters inhabit. And this world is in a form of a totalitarian fascist world government where everyone is the same, and in precise order and symmetry, exactly like the city. Cube, through is ambiguity, can really be about a character study of people trapped in an artificially constructed world.  The simplicity of their clothes and the cube brings out the complexity of the characters.



2. Stephanie Boutari

equilibrium equilibrium

Symmetry as a symbol of oppression/power.

In the reality that we are familiar with, we see many instances of symmetry on a daily basis, not just in architecture but in countless furniture and objects. The pyramids, ancient Greek temples or a Gothic cathedral hall are examples of architecture that employ symmetry in referring to divine power. Even in many modern and contemporary buildings, symmetry is sometimes simply used because it is visually pleasing to the eye. Symmetry in all of these instances is not seen as disturbing but quite the contrary, so what makes it so unsettling in Equilibrium?

In my opinion, it is because the power that is repeatedly expressed through the film's symmetry is that of one man, one dictator - the 'Father'. In one of the settings his face alone is displayed at the scale of a building and placed on multiple facades in the same oppressive symmetrical layout of the street. In the area where his army gather the building backdrop is also an overpowering in its scale and symmetry, displaying again an oversized screen on which the Father speaks.

The degree to which symmetry is manifested in Libria goes beyond simply creating a reality of regularity and order, but exhibits an overwhelming sense of hierarchy and organization to the point that it does not appear human. The lack of humane, emotive qualities in the filmed environments emphasizes the emotionless world that the citizens of Libria are forced to live in.

In contrast, the appearance of emotion and rebellion in the film brings about chaos. In several scenes this disorder is portrayed visually by a disruption in the symmetry, for example as the cleric runs through crowds.


3. Laura Fenwick

Use of high angle shot (Equilibrium and The Cube).

The use of high angle shots in film is used to manipulate the audiences view towards the character being viewed in the high angle shot. This type of shot is generally used in film to convey the message that the subject is vulnerable or powerless. However, it also used at times to show power of a central character in the film by showing the high angle shot as this powerful characters view in the film. This is effective in showing that this character is making the rest of the character’s feel vulnerable or powerless.

This is most evident in the film Equilibrium. The use of high angle shots in this film cements the “big brother” feeling of this film. In Equilibirum, no one has any emotions and is monitored constantly. The high angle shots used in this film emphasise that everyone is just a number and gives the audience a sense that someone is watching over them. This is most effective in the police interview scenes, showing that the character being interrogated is vulnerable and helpless. Hence, the use of the high angle shot effectively brings the audience back to the awareness that these people are constantly monitored and he could get caught at any time. This is effective in promoting anxiety and tension of the audience.

High angle shots are used in a very similar way in the filming of  The Cube. High angle shots are used numerous times to convey the feeling of vulnerability and again that someone is watching the trapped individuals. This Cube uses the high angle shot to effectively cement the feeling that the subjects are trapped in each cube, making the audience feel the sense of claustrophobia that one would no doubt feel in such a situation. Also, the use of high angle shots in this film is effective in making the audience feel a sense that someone is watching over the trapped people, and effectively laughing at their every move. This shows the person “looking down” from the high angle has the power and the subjects are powerless. Although the use of high angle shots in The Cube is very effective for creating the particular mood of the film, another reason the high angle shot is used could possibly be due to set constraints. Due to the low budget of the film, only one half of a cube was constructed for filming. Hence, the high angle shot could be the most effective way of filming this half-cube to create the feeling of a whole cube.



4. Li Ting (Nora) Guan

The relationship between architectural style and the sense of the individual self. (Equilibrium and The Cube) Items like uniforms can also be included.

Both of the film “Equilibrium” and “Cube” utilized a certain kind of architectural style to show a totalitarian society where individuality is lost through a cold and monotone setting and minimalism.

In the film “Equilibrium”, the primary color palette used was gray and blue. This is used to show the oppressive and alienated sterile nature of the society. The rules of the Librian system are simple: citizens are not allowed to feel emotions. The architecture in Librian society has a very rigid and precise form, which reflects the feeling of the people in the film. For example, the head quarters and public squares are all symmetrical, repetitive and rational. No human feelings are expressed through architecture. Everything is cold and monotone. However, for the “underground” world, the interior is full of warm color ornaments. The whole film “Cube” is taken place in a giant puzzle that is made up of thousands of cubical rooms. No other kinds of space are filmed. People are summoned to this alienated space and become alienated throughout the journey.

In “Equilibrium”, the architectural style is very minimal especially in Preston’s home. There is absolutely no decoration; even the windows are blocked so there is no view to the exterior. Everything is minimal with no color, no pattern, no decoration and no expression. Home should be a place of warm and comforting, but in Preston’s home, there is even no bed sheet or extra piece of furniture. Everything is minimized to function only. This clearly shows that the absolute control of government creates a mindless society. Similarly, nothing else appears in the “Cube” except for clothing and glasses, which are useful for the characters to find out the way to escape. Throughout their journey in the cube, the characters become more and more alienated. As they experience the minimized cubical space, their characters become minimized too. Quentin loses control and sense of justice by killing three people. Moreover, people in both of the films wear uniform, which symbolizes imprison and hierarchy.

Uniformed are usually worn by school students, factory workers, waiters, prisoners, etc. It gives the person an identity of what organization he/she participates in.  In “Equilibrium”, audiences can tell the occupation of everyone from the uniform they wear. Normal citizens wear white loose shirt while clerks wear leather suits. In “Cube”, everybody wears the same uniform. Individuals from different fields of work are summoned to the cube and get changed to wear uniform unconsciously. They use their own advantage to achieve the same goal: get out of the cube.

To summarize, both of the file “Equilibrium” and “cube” manipulate the architectural style by using cold and dark tone and minimalism.



5. Matt Hartney

Escape to the church, which is situated on the "outside" as a refuge for reading poetry. (Remembering that the enforcers are all called Clerics and trained in a monastic way...)

Many techniques are used in Equilibrium in order to manipulate the viewers perception of reality, some involving great subtlety and others applied with a rather liberally.  The use of a ruined cathedral as a site for the commission of a ‘sense-offence’ by ranking cleric suggests inclusion into the latter category of heavy handedness, though this metaphor operates well on several levels, giving it a greater dimensionality.

In Equilibrium, the audience is presented with a version of reality in which the best characteristics of mankind have disappeared, crushed under the boots of the TetraGrammaton Council, and in which our worst attributes are augmented, some reaching the level of a religion.  While ostensibly created to promote peace, the council embraces extreme and fatal violence as its primary method of enforcement, relying on fear and compulsion to keep the public drugged into obedience. The presentation of a Christian church as a place of refuge for the reading banned literature reverses the age old relationship between censorship and Christianity, while at the same time undermining the religious authority of the Grammaton Cleric, by presenting a space of true reflection and faith. Faith is mentioned several times in the film, typically in relation to unquestioning trust in ‘Father’, which is curious in the context of an emotionless society, which would be faithless by definition.

The violence of period such as the Inquisition or the Crusades is mirrored in the violence committed at the hands of the ruling council of Libria, the religious structure of which more closely resembles an enlightenment sect than an organized religion. Nevertheless, the film again mixes Christian symbolism, conjuring the crucifix for the TetraGrammaton symbol and burning sense offenders in the furnaces of the city in the same way that the church burned heretics at the stake in the Autos-de-fe held in public squares.



6. Michael Hasey

The architectural style of the city of the "future" vs the depiction of the "outside world". Compare this to the depiction of the space station vs. the planet earth in Solaris.

The architecture style of Libria; the futuristic city in Equilibrium, is based on a neo-classical typology similar to that of Fascist architecture during the Second World War.  This is done to convey a sense of timelessness, power, and longevity within the city, a goal all too familiar within Nazi mentality and architecture.  Buildings such as the Palazzo de Congressi and Berlin’s Olympic Stadium are used within the film as tools to create and amplify this deep connection with the state of the city.

While the city of Libria is meant to convey power and timelessness through architecture, the outside city, or “Nether” is shown as a shattered mass in an advanced state of decay.  Buildings are torn apart and lying in rubble, and those that are still standing are completely abandoned and void of any signs of life.  Although destroyed, it is something more comforting and familiar to the viewer.  Rather than rigid and repetitive neo-classical elements as displayed in Libria, the architecture of the Nether is modern and easily identifiable to that of every day life.  It is depicted this way in order to give the impression of an abandonment of normality in the shadow of some greater and darker vision. 
In the film Solaris, the space station like the city of Libria is meant to represent the future, while the planet earth like the Nether, is meant to characterize the identifiable present.  Unlike Libria, the station’s architectural style is based on super modernism rather than styles identified with the present or past.  Although not too far fetched, the design of the station does place the viewer in a completely alien environment.  Through the use of computerized lights, sounds, and geometries in the station, the viewer is placed in the future, giving rise to an experience far different than that of the Libria.

The depiction of Earth as expressed in Solaris, is quite similar to that of the Nether in the film Equilibrium.  Both environments allow the user to identify with the architecture through personal memory of the near present.  Rather than being an alien futuristic place, Planet Earth becomes a clear connection with normality, in social, cultural, and architectural aspects.  Although the time does not change, the language of advanced electronics and machinery as expressed in the space station does not take root in this homeland environment.  Aspects of nature and simple, traditional living are displayed in order to coax the viewer into a certain calmness through its very similarity to our own lives.



7. Richard Kim

The use of known political enteties (Hitler) in Equilibrium versus the use of prison names in The Cube.

The movie Equilibrium starts with a grand emotion of the society built on dictatorship, hyper-organized, efficient to a point of a giant machine. We see images of political figures- Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and even Adolf Hitler, in hands with symbols that are very similar to Swastika as used by Nazi government. We are introduced to “The Father”, the dictator, the Hitler in this movie, who refuses to be shown in public for his safety.

This strikingly similar imagery and symbolism that are introduced immediately and effectively creates an undertone that the government is an evil one, the antagonist in the plot. The visual association with the preoccupied notions in the unconsciousness of the viewers is intensified by the formation of the resistance and rallies that directly references to the past governments of the similar characteristic.

In the movie The Cube, all the characters that are imprisoned in the cube are named after famous prisons. The name of each prison showcases its characteristic through the personality traits of each character.
“Kazan (the autistic man) is a disorganized prison. Rennes (the "mentor") pioneered many of today's prison policies. Quentin (the policeman) is known for its brutality. Holloway is a women's prison. Alderson is a prison where isolation is a common punishment. Leavenworth runs on a rigid set of rules (Leaven's mathematics), and the new prison is corporately owned and built (Worth, hired as an architect).”
In contrast to the movie Equilibrium where the undertone was immediately set, The Cube only reveals the name of the characters after the plot has matured, after the personality has been exposed enough to each other.



8. Clayton Lent

The nature of urban space in the film as it defines the character of the society and amount of control of the leaders. Compare this to the representation of urban space in Berlin Symphony of a Great City.

Every urban space within the city in Equilibrium seems to possess large enough dimensions to allow for ordered, expedient circulation. They all are of a particularly austere character, and built at a monumental scale. These characteristics are epitomized in the large video viewing area. It is enclosed by three meter walls which run into a massive approximately twenty meter tall by forty wide stone wall with a simple arched barn-like pediment. This wall supports a video screen as wide as the gathering area. This composition represents three important aspects of the public space within the city in Equilibrium.

First, the massive propaganda machines present, which in themselves are epitomized in the scenes which are taken from a perspective above the normal human position, looking down a large avenue with nearly identical four story buildings with large, unused arcades on both sides. Each building supports a massive screen while zeppelins supporting similar screens bear down upon the public. At a given moment nearly a third of the urban scene is occupied by identical propaganda. This can be compared to the public thoroughfares in Berlin: Symphony of a Great City which posses a quite different nature. Advertisements are much smaller and either easily missed in the scenes or made in a particularly intriguing way. Even when an advertisement does take the main stage in a scene it possesses an ambiguous nature, more sculpture or painting than persuasion.
Second the scale (mentioned above), which supports the absolute formations and movements in formation required of the population. In Berlin: Symphony of a Great City we see a city congested when in use and filled with varying trajectories. The cities public realm is a space of interaction, of friction between independent intentions and the pleasant products of their chance meetings. One notable difference is that in Equilibrium no life is shown above ground level, whereas in Berlin: Symphony of a Great City the urban space is layered with all the evidence of the human ritual: flowers hung from windows, those windows open and there occupants looking out on their lively city.

Third, the tactile and aesthetic character of the urban realm, of which it possesses close to zero tactile interaction (at the human scale) and a strange diluted style that mixes post-modernism with the massing of art deco skyscrapers and simple concrete forms until a muddy sludge is formed. In describing the public realm as shown in Berlin: Symphony of a Great City it is impossible to generalize as above. The urban space is framed by a myriad of structures of individual character, built during varying time periods and augmented to suite the varied intentions of there occupants. Both films portray urban spaces which can be argued to be the product of specific intentions, the differences lie in whose intentions are represented.


9. Kevin Lisoy

Means of advertisement of propaganda materials - products (Equilibrium vs early 20s films).

Machine as architecture.  Film of the 1920s was obsessed with “the machine”.  Propaganda advertisements in Equilibrium actually consists of a machine-like control of advertisement.  When the character John Preston discovers the machine behind all of the advertisements and destroys it.  But the way that this machine-like advertisement structure is run is most similar to the images in 1920s film.  Dziga Vertov created a film in 1924 named “Kinoglaz”, where a young group of people created a clean, well run market to overpower the dirty, peasant-run markets.  The reason that they are able to make this new market a success is through the littering of Soviet-inspired advertisements throughout the town.  In a later scene, the new Soviet children litter a tavern with leaflets where a group of recent murderers frequent.  This is in attempts to warn the people that outlaw will not be tolerated by the singular, communist power through advertisements.  Similarly, the advertisements in Equilibrium warn the people that they must take the drug in order to function correctly.

The presentation of advertisements in Equilibrium is similar to Nazi Party propaganda.  In Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, the Nazi symbol is regularly presented as the backdrop to the rows of German soldiers dwarfed in the foreground.  Both films wash the content of the shot with the propaganda advertising.  Most of the urban shots are also presented at eye-level with the advertisement - like in Triumph of the Will - so as to wash the people with advertising.

Advertisements in the urban scale dominate the citizens walking by.  The advertisements, coupled with a singular audio track washing the streets, dominates the urban form.  The emphasis is on the advertisements as the single thought on the minds of the people.  This is further enforced when the advertisements are all played at exactly the same time, so that when traveling from space to space the single propaganda material/thought is not distorted.  Every screen in the film is playing the same, or continuation of the same video - even on the televisions in the home.  This washes the characters with on monolithic image of “the drug” that seems to be the only thing on citizens’s minds.



10. Anne Ma

Poetry as an offense in contrast to the role of books in Solaris.

equilibriumLiterature acts as a mediator between the thoughts and emotions of the writer, and the understanding of the reader. It is used as a communication device not only directly from the print to the reader, but is also used as a mechanic for portraying themes in other media such as plays, musical theatre and films. In particular, literature as poetry plays an important role in both the communistic regime of Equilibrium and the psychological futuristic film Solaris.  The use of poetry and literature in the films are distinct in that they play opposite roles relative to the theme of manipulated realities.

In Equilibrium, the ‘reality’ of Libria is governed by a simple rule that feeling is equivalent to death. Reading or interacting with creations other than that which is approved by ‘Father’ is strictly prohibited. Poetry, an expression of human imagination, is seen as the very thing that manipulates the realities that humans experience in Libria. Any contact with literature or the greater collective of human creations including art pieces, music and artifacts, is outlawed with the fear that it will change the ‘correct’ way a person should think and react to life. Ironically, these items are actually what bring reality back to humanity in that it allows one to contemplate, respond and understand the human emotions put into creating these items. One can observe this return to true reality in the gradual changes in the thought process of cleric John Preston as he stops taking the drug that alters the mind from feeling.

In Solaris, literature’s role is contrasted to that from Equilibrium as the thing that keeps reality intact. Being on a space station in which everyone experiences hallucinations of their past in physical form is the manipulated reality in which the characters live. The scene that takes place in the library contains collections of items from earth (including books and paintings) that invoke a sense of security amidst the strange happenings on the station. The knowledge that these artifacts are real and exist through history diverts the manipulated reality of the hallucinations and helps the characters to continue finding a way to eradicate the illusions speculated to be produced by the planet’s strange ocean.

While poetry and literature are seen as threats to a peaceful and orderly society in Equilibrium, they are used as reinforcements for the insecurities of illusions exhibited in Solaris. It can be established that poetry and literature are unification devices in both films as it is able to bring together groups of people (members of the space station in Solaris) or communities (the resistance in Equilibrium) under the idea of generating human thought and emotion. These thoughts and sentiments are an indication of true reality of humanity versus the manipulated realities in each film.



11. Xin (Emma) Ma

Significance of these sorts of items overall to the issue of sense offenses in the film. (smell and touch) Relate this to sensory objects in Solaris.

The protagonists in Equilibrium and Solaris both live in a relatively apathetic society (repression of emotion and science, respectively); sensory objects awaken the inner core of humanity in Preston and Kelvin.

The repression of emotion in the films is portrayed as the denial of the human condition. In Equilibrium, the diction of the phrase “sense offense” indicates a blockade between the inhabitants of the society and anything that might move in or our through the senses, both physically and mentally.

The objects of sense offense would be unremarkable in familiar settings of the past or present. The futuristic themes carried on by the films saturate the set with hard, gleaming surfaces, to which the introduction of the sensory object appears foreign, and as such, aches with longing.

The essence of the sensory objects in Equilibrium are extracted throughout the film; the artifacts are rarely seen without human interaction, from shooting through the book in Partridge’s hands, to Preston’s toying of the perfume bottle and his desperate snuffs at the brightly coloured ribbon. These objects demand to interaction, in contrast to the indifferent artifacts found commonly in the settings of the two films.

The textured and tactile materials in Solaris are connected to Hari and the home planet, such as in the waves of seaweed reminiscent of her hair, her shawl, and dress, all coloured in earthy tones. These artifacts connect Kelvin to his emotions in the way that the clean, cold, and white architectural set of the ship oppresses his thought and feeling.

The sensory objects and rooms are often faded with age and imbued with time. Secret rooms Equilibrium and the library if Solaris are lit by dim fluorescents, and provide high contrast to the sharpness and clarity of the light outside, nullifying sight to heighten the powers of touch and smell. Sensory objects bring a deliberate sense of nostalgia to the characters of the films as well as the audience. The forbidden objects are accumulated in our past as well as theirs. This connection allows the protagonists to rediscover their roots in humanity though the sense of homesickness for a former culture and way of life.



12. Christopher Mosiadz


The significance of the choice of music, as well as its role (Equilbrium vs. any of the other films we have studied so far this term.)

The soundtrack from Equilibrium is originally composed by Klaus Badelt with additional music by Ramin Djawadi and Geoff Zanelli. The orchestrated sound design effectively serves to reinforce the dark, gloomy, utopian society, set in the state of Libria after World War III.
The soundtrack, arguably generic, reinforces the popular sci-fi movie genre by invoking use of a pulsating rhythm to intensify the action and propel the pace of the movie. Slower sequences lend themselves to a more pronounced ambient quality of eeriness, conveying the feeling of a cold utopia with no hate, no love, no anger, no war. It really makes the viewer contemplate the significance of emotions and whether they are worth giving up to eliminate war and all of its associations.

The tonal quality of the music in Equilibrium is very much consistent throughout the film, which seems to be a good fit, especially in reinforcing this robot-like existence that this new society is based on. In stark contrast to this, we find Preston listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony during one of his ‘jobs’ and being immensely moved by it, which is the point in the film where we begin to fully grasp the contrast between emotion and the lack thereof.

It is also very interesting to note that music is a “sense offence” in the world of Libria and yet the movie itself has a soundtrack. This completely goes against what the film is about and in this way it can be seen as a failure.

The Shining on the other hand, has a more successful soundtrack because its level of design is just as good as the visual effect itself. One really can’t work without the other. The coordination of the audio and video is crafted to such a degree so as to send chills down ones spine.

The soundtrack to Solaris was developed with a very low budget and was used sparingly throughout the film, which means that the director must have been very selective in how music was used. Though, when we did hear the soundtrack in the space station, it really began to embody this connection with Solaris, this other layer of information of Solaris or the subconscious speaking to the characters, which effectively pushed the story to the next level through the use of music.


13. Tyler Murray

Significance of the tearing away of the film on the window. Significance of the initial placement of the film ON the window as a method of "sense" control. The extension of this in "gloves". Compare this inability to see outside to the role of "the outside" in The Cube.

To help keep an orderly society one must feel a part of something larger than themselves without ever thinking about the fact that they are merely a cog in a far greater system.  The film cover on the window in the protagonists bedroom is to prevent any aspect of art or anything that begs the bigger questions from creeping into his mind.  This is particularly important when dealing with a person as potentially dangerous as cleric John Preston.  The system that the city works on is that of the neighbourhood watch in the most extreme of scenarios where one could not count on ones own son or daughter to keep a secret.   The only difference being that crime no longer exists due to the drug prozium.  So long as everyone keeps taking their dose there are no issues.  For this reason, there is now only a single type of crime which is punishable by death.  One cannot feel, which in turn means, one cannot miss their dose.  This is important because feelings are the root of those deeper questions where one must really consider that they are an individual who walks upright on the face of thi Earth.  The film on the window therefore poses a few particularly difficult things to control;  the view of the city, a glaring reference to the context in which one lives.  Sunrise and sunset for these are things of surreal beauty and lastly the height at which one can gain these vistas may also provoke feelings of fear or anxiety or awe. 

These inexplicable occurrences have led to the creation of myths and stories dating back to the most primitive of civilizations and they still continue to drive development in the fields of science and innovation.  The society in which this movie takes place has decided to cease development both of the individual and of that as a greater entity by removing the spark which would propel it further into whatever destiny that may have been.  These rules seem to be more strict for grammaton cleric as they pose the greatest risk and so most everything sensory is blocked off, as part of there uniform they wear black gloves.  These gloves remove the sensitivity of the fingers and hands, they are also coloured black in order to disguise the blood of all there many victims.  Both of these are shown as significant once John Preston begins to feel.

The role of outside in this movie and in The Cube are similar in they attempt to distort  ones perception to the point of doubting or not knowing that exterior environment.  In Equilibrium the idea of not knowing the outside, that of a feeling and humane world, is the means of suppression of the society.  The Cube on the other hand usese the outside as the driving force behind the participation in the cube.  In that respect to two films differ.  Therefore both films use the outside as a means of control and manipulation but in Equilibrium the reason is to suppress any notion of participation in that outside world, while in The Cube that knowledge of the outside world precedes there entering the cube and so again it is the means to activate there participation.



14. Brian Muthaliff

Use of colour both overall in the film and in reference to "sense" offenses. Relate to the use of colour in The Cube.

Colour implies spirit. The life of a still image becomes clear when there is an introduction of warm and cool colours.  Equilibrium plays on the use of colour and lack thereof to describe the spirit of the places. The “sense” offenders are those who have feeling, and those who have feeling inherently love and have life, their scenes are full of colour, vibrant in paintings, books, even the rays of light that shine through to the underground. Libria however is very unsaturated, minimalist, rational and lifeless. This is a direct representation of the mood of the city. Arguably, colour is used as a device to distinguish between place as well as spirit.

Similarly, the use of colour in the Cube helps differentiate space. Considering that the movie was made entirely in two cubes, it becomes important that the viewer believes the grandeur of The Cube. The changing colour of each cube helps considerably to introduce new scenes into the two box array.

With regards to mood however, the colours  in the cube don’t speak loudly to a change in mood. There are some seemingly “coincidental” scenes in the movie, where Quentin is angry and the room is red, and another where the prisoners need to pass through the cube activated by sound silently and the room is blue, a cool colour, often symbolizing silence.
Colour plays  major role in each film, but in relation to each other, I think the use of colour as a device to differentiate place is most common.



15. Adam Schwartzentruber

Use of high (overhead) angle for filming. Compare to the use of high angles in The Cube.

The film Equilibrium used high angle filming sparingly. High angle shots create beneficial perspectives from which we can understand a situation more clearly than shown from a personal perspective, such as the shots illustrated here. The contrast between personal experience and new perspective places a particular emphasis on what is portrayed.

The use of high angle shots does however create a moment in which the viewer is elevated above the setting which causes a separation between the viewer and the main character. This separation can detract from the realism with which the story is being portrayed and so overhead filming is used sparingly only to convey very important concepts. Equilibrium uses overhead angles to distinguish the individual from his surroundings and to emphasize the difference between his visible actions and the inaction of the larger population which surrounds him as a sort of stagnant similarity.

Comparatively, high angle shots are used even less in the Cube. This may be to further reduce the amount we distance ourselves from the characters. When high angles allow a viewer to get perspectives which they would not in real life, it may tend distance the viewer from the character or characters to which they are to relate and to focus on. High angles were only used in the cube to allow us to understand that at certain points the space below was accessed by a hole in the floor. It was also used to emphasize the distance between spaces when it was important for the viewer to understand the distance that needed to be traversed in order to climb from one cube to the next.



16. Sam Sutherland

The nature of "home" and family. (referencing both architecture and social issues). How does this manifestation of "home" compare to the design of the domestic/bedroom spaces in Solaris.

The interior design of the “home” or apartment approaches the Modernist ideal of existenzminimum. The interior architecture and furniture also have the “slick” look characteristic to the Modernist ideal of eliminating ornamentation. Complex shapes are rare. Corners are square and sharp. All hard surfaces are matt and buffed to a high gloss. Structure is not articulated, for the most part. Colours are mute: greys, black, and light browns. The “home” has a decidedly NOT-lived-in quality. Real homes should be full of stuff, they should look like people have lived in them and deposited years of detritus, but this home is too clean, so to speak. In my experience, modernist spaces of this nature make one feel particularly uncomfortable if the function of the space is supposed to be for “living in”. They are not conducive to engendering feelings of comfort, ease, or dwelling, which is probably why the film makers chose this look for the home in the film. Bale and his two children do not look uncomfortable in this environment (we accept this intuitively because we know they are drugged-up), and this gives them the false appearance that they actually are comfortable in this environment. Of course, the slick, “no-ornament” look of Modernist interior design and furniture is itself a form of ornamentation, but in my opinion, it is not one that compliments a home very well. The two children oscillate between emanating a sense that they are “family” or “law-abiding citizens”. The son gives a very un-familial vibe when he plays the cleric and mini-dictator, ordering his father to report the loss of his Prozium interval and saying, “What are you doing?” so petulantly; but the feeling of family returns because of the mere proximity of the son and daughter, and the instances where the son inadvertently refers to Bale as “Dad”. Eventually we learn that the stand-offishness of the children, and their exaggerated maturity for their age, is merely a self-preservation measure, concealing true familial feelings underneath.

The bedroom spaces in Solaris give the impression that they were designed by Modernists, but the people who lived in them were not Modernists. They dumped their junk all over the place, and in the process made the unbearable bearable. The living room in the Solaris space station, however, is very un-Modernist.



17. Joon Yang

The education of children and their role in society. Compare the role of children in Equilibrium to the role of children in the Shining.

Most visible and perhaps shocking aspect depicted in the film in regards to children, is the elimination of hierarchy between adults and children, and the amount of responsibility that children carry. This has a close relationship to the theme, which depicts a society at work without emotions, but only driven by logical thinking. The vulnerability of children in today’s world comes from their lack of control over emotion. They are relatively more emotional, and thus have less room for logical thinking, in comparison to adults. However, in ‘Equilibrium’, where no citizen is allowed to feel any emotions, children soak up logical information at extremely fast speed. In a way, life and society that works without emotions become less complicated. Everything becomes much simpler when the only voice you have to listen to is the logic, just as a robot would function. When one is completely void of any emotions or feelings, one would develop faster in logical thinking. This allows children to be exposed to high-level sociology and philosophy, just as the son of cleric does through TV. The educator doesn’t display any sort of emotional comforting, nor considers of creating an enjoyable learning environment. It is extremely dry and such education could be perceived as ‘inhumane’ in today’s perspective, but it is not an issue in ‘Equilibrium’ because nobody is able to feel. This allows children to execute morally daunting tasks, like pointing out an outlaw on streets so the guards can capture him and execute necessary punishment, often death. It is natural in ‘Equilibrium’ because nobody is able to feel, and therefore morality doesn’t exist. Only thing that defines one’s action as righteous, and the only thing that society promotes, is to follow regulation and duty.

Lack of emotions take out the concept of ‘maturity’, because everyone only functions. Therefore the conception that children should not carry heavy responsibility, is eliminated. As long as they can function just as efficiently as an adult, they may be at a commanding position. When the cleric’s son is more clear of what’s happening in the house, such as noticing that the cleric is acting strangely, he asks him questions to clear of any suspicion, and instructs him.



18. Ryan Yeung

Justification of elimination of "sense" offenders (Equilibrium) vs "captives" that seem to be in the way (The Cube). How is the killing the same? Different?

The elimination of people in both films is understood as a means to achieve a justifiable end. Specifically, it is for a “good” cause, in respect to the people committing this murder, as it safeguards their future, or in other terms, prolongs their existence. For Equilibrium, “Father” believes the lack of emotions and thus, sense offenders, will ensure the survival of the human race. For The Cube, Quentin believes the removal of Kazan and Holloway will ensure their survival in their escape out of the Cube. They are seen as a hindrance, as Kazan suffers from autism, and Holloway from her paranoia and emotions. Ironically, Quentin eventually becomes the victim of elimination, when the rest of the captives struggle to break free from him.

However, the two films break apart in similarities when it comes to their setting, their situation, and how they manipulate reality. Whereas, in Equilibrium, the rules are set in stone, and instigated by one dictator, The Cube suffers from social anarchy, where anything goes. Equilibrium is a completely controlled environment, whereas The Cube, though controlled by confinement, is entirely open-ended especially in regards to the reason for being in The Cube in the first place. There is a lack of explanation for anything in The Cube, and an aura of mysteriousness.

In the end, the society in Equilibrium regards the elimination of “sense” offenders as a means to prolong their survival, and thus, prolong their manipulated reality. The captives in The Cube regard the elimination of other captives that seem to be in the way as a means to prolong their survival, however, as a means to escape from this manipulated reality.



19. Ashley Wood

"Nature" as a sense offense. Compare this to the role of nature in Solaris.

The two films Solaris and Equilibrium both use “nature” as a means to convey their pivotal message.

Nature within the film Equilibrium is seen as an offense, this is conveyed through the architecture of the inner dystopia as an aid for the deviation of pleasure. This dystopia helps to conveys how the eradication of emotions has resulted in a society free of conflict.

However when this is compared with the role of nature in Solaris, seen as a dream like state, grounding of the truth, connection to memory and history, the two films do not begin to juxtapose their use of nature. Equilibrium’s triumph for nature is similarly demonstrated through the rise of the underground resistance, as is Solaris with Kelvin’s returning home to his parent property.

Equilibrium begins to draw on the connection that human emotions have to the natural environment. An important scene which illustrates this connection is when John Preston begins to feel the sunlight behind the translucent film of his bathroom glazing. Preston proceeds to tear the film off revealing the warmth and colour of the day and this translation reveals his current state of emotional.

This connection with nature as a emotion is paralleled in Solaris as Kelvin’s visits to his parents property and the memories inherent in its qualities. The property and the visits made begin to question the concept of space exploration on the human psyche.

Another demonstration is the characteristic of human nature. This is illustrated in the emotional connection with memory. Both Solaris and Equilibrium again parallel each other in this regard. The conveyor of dream shows the viewer Kelvin’s connection with his father and Preston’s connection to his wife. These scenes again instilling the question of whether the artificial world they are currently living in is questionable, in tune with the morals of humanity and defy the collective phenomena of the natural world.

Through the use of nature as a character the two film are able to convey a vita message to the audience. The traits of this character begin to illustrate the morality of the worlds that Kelvin and Preston are living in.  



20. Giovanni Comi

Architecture as it represents a double standard.

The movie shows an opposition between two different ideas of living life.

Equilibrium takes place after the World War Three in a city, called Libria, where the dictator has solved the problem of peace using the strenght. To avoid that people could fall back on the evil, all feelings (positive or negative) have been banned. Indeed, the society described by Kurt Wimmer, the director, is strictly divided between masters (the clerics) and servants (population).

This double life situation is also reflected in architecture. Almost the entire film is characterized by a clash between the architecture designed using Prozium and the free open-mind architecture.

The movie easily reminds me of Fahrenheit 451. In my opinion, while in Truffaut's movie people are condemned to live in ignorance by a despotic power burning books, in Equilibrium people are condemned to live into an ugly society (in one of the very first scenes, clerics burn the Gioconda's painting).

Libria's look is very oppressive, reminding us of the totalitarian countries (some scenes have been shot in Berlin and in Rome, at the EUR; we can easily recognize the Congress Palace designed by Adalberto Libera), with huge white or grey buildings, placed in a symmetrical order. Indeed, symmetry is used both as symbol of oppression and as celebration of status quo.

I think that another element that increases this sense of control and persecution, is buildings' size. The first scene, audience can watch on the screen, shows a world almost built just by skyscrapers.  

Rules that manage urban spaces are the same in private houses too.

The complete absence of colour ( just black and white, the same colour of clothes worn by clerics) can also be seen in cleric's houses, as John Preston's one. In this case we can notice a very minimalist furniture, where the most important element is the television screen broadcasting Father's speech. In a world without emotion, nothing is essential, except for propaganda.

Order of time life is a consequence of order of places and things and viceversa. I mean, everybody has the same job, wears in the same way, and even takes Prozium at the same moment of the day. There is no choice. Life and architecture are always the same because  they have been imposed by power.

The idea of choice itself can't exist. Indeed, choice is a mental process involved in the judgement of different options, which end selecting the one we prefer. But this can't happen in Libria.

As a matter of fact, when Preston/Bale doesn't take his dose of Prozium, the first thing he changes is his desk. He disarranges it or, better still, he personalizes it, trying to modify the status quo.

On the other hand, the hidden places where rebels try to make safe works of art are completely the opposite. They are furnished with books, pictures, as elements to remember the past, scented, and they are lit up with candle light. We can say that these rooms that look just as untidy warehouses are the only places still lived with sensitiveness. These places have been furnished by a free mind, apparently without an order, in reality they have the order of the free will.

A final consideration must be done on DuPont's headquarter. As a matter of fact his room, where the final Oedipic fight (“you have to kill the Father” says the chief of rebel faction to Preston) takes place, is completely different from all the other rooms. It looks like a mansion's manor hall furnished with marble floors, columns and paintings hanged up. In this case the decision for a minimalistic furniture  (there is just a desk in the whole room) increases the role of the leader. He's the centre of the power. He's the only one, inside the system, who can feel.
While servants live a stoned life, the leader enjoys the beauty of his perfect world.



21. Miklos Csonti

Art as it represents a double standard.

The integration of art as a double standard in ‘Equilibrium’ acts as a mechanism for drawing parallels between the emotionless society of Libria to the similarly idealized societies of our own past.  Such radical political ideologies enforced by dictatorships have proven to fail inevitably, and so this association through art immediately sets up an unstable environment in the futuristic world presented to us throughout the film.

Dictators have been well known for exercising double standards.  Communist leaders owned wealth and Hitler wasn’t a blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan.  This notion is explicitly recreated in ‘Equilibrium’ by the extravagantly decorated office of ‘Father’ with its showcased emotion-inducing paintings.  While the citizens of Libria were forced to forfeit any artistic possession, the leader enjoyed quite an appreciable collection.  This double standard is typical of dictatorships.

The room isn’t revealed to us until the very end of the film where it reaffirms the inevitable destruction of the existing, highly idealized, society. Our presumption of the outcome at this point might have been less certain had the office of ‘Father’ been designed with the same optimization-led aesthetic as the rest of Libria; without any trace of art.  This is simply because history has taught us that if the leader of a society has and lives by the same idealistic values as its masses, the longevity of that society is probably more certain.  The institutions of organized religions showcase this better than any other group.

Ultimately the movie is a parody of political idealism.  The use of art as a double standard was one of many parallels drawn to the idealized societies of our own past.  In the end these parallels acted as a constant reassurance that the unstable and unresolved society of Libria will more than likely crumble by the end of the 1 hour and 47 minutes.



22. Joel DiGiacomo

Symbolism. Compare this to symbolism in Solaris and The Cube.

The primary Grammaton symbol is a “T”, a truncated cross that is often arranged in groups of four so that it also resembles the nazi swastika. It’s a clumsy mashup of traditional christian and nazi symbols, that is rather off the mark. Apparently the film’s director really wanted his audience to believe the society he’s depicting is fascist, but didn’t think they’d get it unless he made obvious symbolic associations. He’s probably right, because Libria isn’t fascist. It is totalitarian, so maybe a sickle and hammer variation could have worked. Instead, I was left scratching my head. Perhaps realizing the subject of a dystopian future totalitarian society has been beaten to death already, but still needing an enforced denial of basic human needs to appear somewhere in the story, the writer of this movie imagined that outlawing emotion would be a suitable substitute for the banning of critical thinking (the latter being the actual premise of the book the film was based on, Fahrenheit 451). Critical thinking is perhaps what he should have used here. Both fascism and traditional western religion deeply depend on the emotional commitment of their subjects —the opposite of what Libria demands of its citizens. Eliminating someone’s passion still leaves them with reasoning power and entirely capable of figuring out what a bad idea the whole thing is. This movie pretends otherwise, dooming itself to absurdity. It completely confuses feeling with sentimentality. Suddenly, anger isn’t a feeling, but the urge to collect antiques and read poetry is. Sleek minimalistic neo–classical design has nothing to do with beauty, but a room full of junky memorabilia does. The basic premise of the film is hokey, and its symbolism nothing more than confused. (I don’t even like puppies.)

The other two films in question are symbolically successful. This should be basis enough for comparison. The Cube’s primary symbol is, well, the cube. This helps establish the hyper–rational, anti–humanist nature of the complex. The cube could only exist because of a total lack of morality or human empathy, which is the source of conflict in the film.

In Solaris, both water and the circle adequately represent the unknown and the divine, respectively, serving an integral role to a beautiful film.

Sorry Wimmer.


23. Alejandro Fernandez

Use of "corridor" spaces. Compare to the use of the main ring corridor in Solaris and the corridors in The Shining.

The architectural character of corridors, featured in the films: Equilibrium, Solaris, and the Shining, serve to represent the psychological implications of the film’s narrative on their respective heroes.

In Equilibrium, the monumental and pale colonnades parallel the plain clothes of the crowds and speak of their mind-numbing conformity and obedience to father ‘Tetragrammaton’.  In another scene, John Preston, the main character, is rushing through a tunnel with suspended light pendants.  Here, the monotonous and relentless corridor dramatizes urgency as he desperately tries to get to Mary O’Brien and save her extermination by the un-sympathetic authority that John is beginning to revolt against.  At best, the corridors help depict the struggle between conformity at all costs and the goodness and humanity represented by Mary at the end of the deep corridor.  By contrast, in Solaris, the corridor spaces lead to no final destination since they are located within the finite bounds of the spacecraft.  The circularity of the corridor here represents the inner world of Kris who is confronted with the un-worldly and unprecedented reunion with his deceased ex-wife.  Not only is the corridor circular, but so too are the windows, therefore further emphasizing the boundless dimension of the human psyche.  Kris struggles to cope with a strange reality that has opened up inside him.  In the Shining, the tension and fear that builds in the narrative and dynamic between the characters is reflected by the architecture of the hotel.  The sheer amount of different corridors of various architectural styles becomes menacing in the presence of such few characters.  One can never be sure what is around the corner.   The constant shift between these slightly different corridors, some with exaggerated colours, emphasizes the dissonant, thrilling, and eerie quality of the drama.

Thus, the character of the corridors in these three films is used to help depict the dramatic setting and how it affects the heroes.



24. Tania Fuizie

Surveillance / privacy / secrets - relate Equilibrium to Solaris

In the Equilibrium, citizens of Libria devoted themselves to a government to keep them safe from war. After the WWIII those who survived and now are citizens of the Libria, had been gulled into believing that the emotions and lack of control on them is the reason for all the miseries of the human being. In order to overcome the war and the following misfortunes and have a civilization without any conflicts, there should be an intense surveillance on their personal lives to have total conformity. They are not allowed to have any secret and privacy since everything must be in control. Tetragrammaton Council, which has someone called father as the commander, attempts to suppress the citizen’s privacy in order to enforce unity and identical positions. However, there is an underground movement happening in opposition to the government policies with the belief that emotion is the reason why they live. This is the point where the government surveillance faults. To feel is becoming a secret among all the sense-offenders.
In Solaris however, characters and their personal space in the station enjoy absolute privacy. From the moment Kris enters the station, there is always some mystery about the other two members of the team. They both keep their visitors as a secret and never allow others to find out what happens in their rooms. There is always the atmosphere of secrecy and vagueness in the station and among the three members. The terms of privacy and entitlement of the members to their own secrets is vividly sensible in both films, but they occur in different forms. In Solaris, the secrets of the members and the fashion in which their privacy is ensured, adds to the vagueness and uneasy environment the film passes. However, in Equilibrium, the surveillance on privacy of citizens and defiance of those who have kept their emotion as a secret, is the main theme which delivers the story.



25. John Lee

Symmetry as a symbol of balance [vs imbalance (The Shining)]

Symmetry is analogous to perfection and beauty. Therefore, in Equilibrium, the relentless symmetry of Libria reinforces its utopian ideality— its balance. On the other hand, in The Shining, we are confronted with a disturbing near-symmetry, an subtle inequilibriumequilibriumcongruity that suggests imbalance.

The symmetry of Libria’s architecture plays an important role in the administration of its “perfection” and balance. Indeed, it recalls the Neoclassicism favoured by the Hitler and Mussolini (see photo of EUR, Rome, bottom left 1; compare with scene from Equilibrium, top left ).2
Furthermore, the stark minimalism  of Equilibrium recalls Adolf Loos’ seminal work, Ornament and Crime (1908), in which he derides ornament as a waste, the means in which an object would fall victim to the cycle of ‘style’ .3 Loos proposed the elimination of ornament as a response to the increasing pluralization of architectural style; this highly singular concept of “perfection”, would prove to encapsulate the cultural zeitgeist of the early 20th century, from socio-political (Fascism) to architectural (Modernism)..

In The Shining, Kubrick uses symmetry — or, rather, asymmetry — to create an eerie, foreboding atmosphere. Instead of pure symmetry, Kubrick uses doubling and mirrors to slowly unravel the alternate, dark, and hidden sides of the psyche. “There’s something inherently wrong with the human personality,” said Kubrick, in an interview with Newsweek in 1980. “There’s an evil side to it.” 4
The ‘twin’ girls, who are in fact different, Danny and his alter-ego, Tony, and the hedge maze and the labyrinthine corridors 5 within the hotel are examples of ‘doubling’ in The Shining, and all contribute to the eerie exploration of the ‘other’ self (the girls and Tony are supernatural manifestations of Danny’s “Shining”). The concept of doubling is reinforced by the frequent mirroring; the shots of the Colorado landscape, the interiors of the hotel, and the use of actual mirrors — most notably, to translate ‘REDRUM’ to ‘MURDER’.

5 My response for an earlier question regarding the corridors at the Overlook Hotel referenced the labyrinth myth (especially with the hedge maze outside, a more literal comparison) and Freud’s concept of the Ego and the Id, wherein the corridors act as the Ego and the rooms, and their closed doors, the repressed Id. Clearly, the concept of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ halves of oneself is very important to The Shining.



26. Raja Moussaoui

Symmetry as a symbol of beauty.

The architecture in the film Equilibrium uses symmetry to convey many messages. The austere, authoritative buildings, public spaces and interior spaces of the ruling government denote power and establishment. These qualities of balance, proportion, strength and solidity through the use of symmetry relay authority, as well as an innate sense of beauty. Through its use of symmetry, the film Equillibrium makes us question our perception of the notion of beauty as it is applied through our architectures but also through our values and morality.

Symmetry implies a sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality or balance. Human’s have a deeply ingrained tendency to be drawn to bilateral symmetry which can exist in the human form, as well as human constructs. Symmetry also is appealing and beautiful because of its simplicity. Environments which are simple can seem less threatening and more familiar; everything is clean, visible and in order. The irony or perversity of that condition is that often that appearance of beauty, order and simplicity is a veneer.

Such is the case in the film Equilibrium, where beauty through symmetry is used as a veil to conceal the sinister undertones of the government control imposed on the people of the state. This imposed symmetry and its relative beauty is elaborated in the architectures presented in the film, and serves to challenge our perception of what is beautiful, and at what cost does beauty come? The beauty that is presented to us is sterile and inaccessible. It is beauty without feeling.

In the film, the beauty expressed through symmetry is used as a tool for manipulating the public into a false sense of security, while masking the grave injustice of denying the basic human right of expressing feeling.   The government attempts to abolish the emotions of its civilians, in order to avoid extreme behavior and therefore avoid war. The protagonist is forced to decide if it is worth having a beautiful, war-free and emotionless civilization, at the cost of his humanity.

The elegant symmetry of the establishment’s buildings is contrasted with the underground world of the resistance. It is here that the protagonist discovers a different sort of beauty which speaks to his humanity. This ‘underworld’ is disorderly, mysterious and symbolic of the human emotions. The underworld is imperfect and unsymmetrical; however he relates its participants and their way of life. He finds beauty in the imperfections of the environment, and rejects the symmetrical beauty of the establishment.



27. Holly Young


Talk about the use of backlighting and accent of the main character(s) in Equilibrium versus the more traditional lighting in The Shining. How might this impact a theatrical production?

equilibriumIn the film Equilibrium, our protagonist lives in a world where the government blames human emotion for all past atrocities and has, therefore, invented medication to suppress said emotion and made feeling a crime punishable by death.  Throughout the movie, we follow John as he transitions from law enforcer to law breaker, and develops a new understanding about the importance of experiencing human emotion.  In this context, highlighting of the main character is used as an effective foil for the overwhelming idea of monotony and sameness that exists within a world where big brother is always watching for any deviation form the accepted norm.  Backlighting and other accenting of a single character within a scene makes the audience concentrate on the individual; the setting and other actors fall into the background, so we are better able to focus on what the individual is doing, thinking and feeling.  In this film, these techniques allow the audience to more clearly see the personal struggle and evolution of the story’s protagonist.  Furthermore, they can also be said to highlight how solitary a life without emotion would be.

equilibriumequilibriumFor the most part, the film The Shining makes use of more traditional lighting techniques that more evenly light the setting and actors within the scene.  In this horror movie, the hotel is as much a character as any of the other actors, and keeping it well lit ensures it does not lose the attention of the audience by fading too far into the background.  In contrast to Equilibrium, a film chronicling the journey of an individual, this film portrays the descent into fear and madness of an entire family and their surroundings, requiring emphasis not on the individual, but on the relationships between individuals.  Traditional lighting ensures that we identify with the connections between things (both people and spaces), rather than focusing our attention on only half of any given relationship.  In the few scenes of The Shining that make use of silhouette to draw attention to the individual, it is done for different reasons than to encourage identification with a specific character, as in Equilibrium.  In The Shining, backlighting is used to further express a character’s isolation from outside society, putting them in stark contrast with the world around them, and to instill fear of those elements or people which may be just out of the frame (again, putting the focus on the relationships between people rather than a single person in itself).

The use of backlighting and other accent lighting techniques would impact a theatrical production much as they do a film.  In fact, one could argue that the spotlight, often used in live theatre, was developed to provide the same emphasis of individuality on stage that the backlighting and accent techniques achieve in Equilibrium.  For instance, where even lighting is employed in a ballet, we focus on the movements of all the dancers and how they build on each other to create a bigger picture of ebb and flow.  However, when the prima ballerina comes on stage and the spotlight hits her, we all of a sudden find ourselves concentrating on her individual movements – the line of her leg, the arch of her back, and even (if one is close enough) the expression on her face – and the other dancers become a beautiful backdrop for the display of her particular technique.  However, one should note that, on stage, spotlight and other accent lighting techniques may be more preferable to backlighting, as the actors/dancers in a traditional theatre are seen from many angles, and (without the use of a translucent screen to diffuse the light) a bright light may distract or hurt the eyes of members in the audience who are not in a direct line with the action.



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