Terri Meyer Boake B.E.S. B.Arch. M.Arch.
Associate Professor School of Architecture University of Waterloo

last updated August 30, 2011

Arch 443/646:
Architecture and Film

Fall 2004: Course Home Page


arch and film fall 2002 | arch and film fall 2003 | arch and film fall 2005

Wednesdays 10:00 to 2:00, Cambridge, Main Floor Lecture Hall

Course Description:This course explores the relationship between Architecture and the development of early and modern films. Students will look at the source and portrayal of architectural expression in film: precedents for imagery, its relationship to the development of early modern architecture, and its vision of the urban future. Contemporary and futuristic architecture will also be examined in recent films to study its expression of the vision of the future of urban built form.

443 course outline link
646 course outline link

Link to introduction to Dreamweaver Tutorial link

Student Research Papers and Websites:
International Student Thesis Consultation on Architecture and Film
Islam Abouhela (Egypt): Masters Research Paper: Significance of Future Architecture in Science Fiction Films link  
Islam Abouhela (Egypt): Powerpoint Presentation: link  
Masters Research Papers
Adriana De Angelis: Cinema and Homes: research paper : link 
Julia Farkas: The Belly of an Architect: "Reproduction" research paper: link
Olivia Keung: A comparison between the urban spaces of Alphaville and Diva research paper: link
Clementine Chang: The Architecture of Sound in Film: link
Nancy Gibson: Architecture and Film Critical Analysis: Dreams of the Metropolis: link
Mark Cichy: Animation and Architecture in Film: link
Film Related Websites (Masters)
Christian Tognela: wim wenders: personal visions of urban landscapes website link  
Francesco Mancini: Cinema City: Travelling Between Movies and Architecture (or, all about New York City...): website link
Federica Martella: Jean Luc-Godard: website link
Film Related Websites (Undergraduate)
Elizabeth Myers: Diva: website link
Vivien Liu: Comparing Metropolis 1927 and 2001: website link
Tammy Chau: Playtime: website link
Andrea Krejcik: Total Recall: website link
Anne-Marie Armstrong: The Belly of an Architect: website link
James Arvai: Alphaville: website link
Michael Votruba: Brazil: website link
Aaron Nelson: The Fifth Element: website link
Personal Website/Portfolios
Liam Brown: personal portfolio website link 
Shane Czyphya: personal portfolio website link 
Joshua Bedard: personal portfolio website link 
Natalie Drago: personal portfolio website link 
Matt Bolen: personal portfolio website link 
Film Name and Details Reviews and Links:
  Theme 1: Early Film and Its Use of Architecture as Significant Set

September 22: first half of class

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920) (72 minutes)

The film that forged the dark, ominous cinematic movement known as German Expressionism - and influenced vanguard filmmakers for generations. Werner Krauss stars as a deranged hypnotist who spreads death through the countryside from a ramshackle traveling carnival. In making the film Robert Wiene and designers combined techniques of painting, theatre and film to conjure a nightmare world of splintered reality ... boldly creating a visual representation of insanity .. taking the art of cinema a lengthy stride into unexplored stylistic and psychological terrain, hinting at the terrifying power the medium might possess.

http://www.film.u-net.com/Movies/Reviews/Cabinet_Caligari.html http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/9078/cindex.htm http://www.mdle.com/ClassicFilms/FeaturedVideo/video178.htm http://victorian.fortunecity.com/cloisters/511/classics/noir/caligari1.html
Student Reviews:

September 22: second half of class

The Golem (1921) (86 minutes):

In 16th century Prague, Rabbi Loew creates a terrifying giant golem from clay to protect his people from their persecutors. Employing sorcery, he brings the artificial man to life, endowing him with human emotions. Famulus, Loew’s evil assistant, manages to take control of the Golem, commanding it to perform sordid criminal acts culminating in the kidnapping of the Rabbi’s beautiful daughter, Miriam. The monster, outraged by his vile misuse, rebels and a deadly rampage ensues. With high, angular sets by famed architect Hans Poelzig and full of wonderful imagery captured by the camera of Karl Freund, this silent classic captivates the eye. Masterfully combining terror and pathos, Wegener’s stiff-limbed portrayal of the golem clearly influenced Boris Karloff’s performance in Frankenstein. This 1920 version of The Golem is considered definitive among the film’s many productions and is an unforgettable horror masterpiece.


Student Reviews:
  Theme 2: Developing the Film and Urban Image of the Metropolis

Thursday,September 23 from 7 to 10 pm, main lecture hall, Cambridge

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) (115 minutes)

Fritz Lang's most famous silent film uses science fiction and spectacular special effects to tell a story of biting social criticism. In a futuristic time and place, an above ground city of lightness, culture and respectability is kept going only by the enslaved proletariat laboring beneath in the underground city: a nightmarish, cruel and dark place. An innovative and influential film in its day and now considered one of the hippest films of the sci-fi genre.

I have this film in its "common" release as well as the rerelease in 2002 of the restored version.
discussion questions (discussion questions will combine the first 3 films)



Student Reviews:

Sept 29

Just Imagine (1930)

Very rare 1930 science fiction film about futuristic 1980 New York where airplanes have replaced cars and features a combination of booze jokes, sci-fi, lewd sex, vaudeville jokes. Babies are gotten through vending machines, and a trip to Mars proves Martians to be twins, (Each set has a good over-sexed one, and an evil homicidal one.) Pepper this oddity with bad puns, miniature effects, and musical numbers and you got a bizarre wacky film! It stars El Brendel, Maureen O'Sullivan & John Garrick.

This is the VHS version. Very strange movie but with some quite interesting presentations of futuristic architecture as well as lifestyle.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

October 6

Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (Japanese Anime 2001) (109 minutes)

"Metropolis is the new milestone in anime. It has beauty, power, mystery and above all... heat. Images from this film will stay with you forever." James Cameron

In the industrial tri-level world of Metropolis, Duke Red is a powerful leader with plans to unveil a highly advanced robot named Tima. But Duke Red's violent son Rock distrusts robots, and intends to find and destroy Tima. Lost in the confusing labyrinth of Metropolis, Tima is beginning a friendship with the young nephew of a Japanese detective. But when Duke Red separates the two innocents, Tima's life - and the fate of the universe - is dangerously at stake.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

Vivien Liu

October 6

On Your Mark (Studio Ghibli 1995) (6 minutes)

In a futuristic Megacity, a pair of Policemen take part in a raid on a religious cult’s temple. While searching through the rubble they find a starved and weak young girl, with angelic wings. Though they revive her, she is carted off by a biohazard unit, and put under examination. After much deliberation, they realize that she has simply gone from one prison into another. Together they hatch a plan to free the girl, and show her the blue sky she belongs in. You would think that by that synopsis, and the stunning pics, that this was a one-shot hour-long feature film. And if you did so, you would be mistaken. Done back in 1995, and paired up in theatres with Mimi wo Sumeseba, this animated short was the music video presented for the popular Japanese music duo, Chage & Aska. Running only six minutes, forty seconds long, and featuring not a word of dialogue, this animated short manages to tell a touching and amusing story, with only music and imagery to guide it along. The animation is crisp, as all Ghibli fare, but the music is every bit as fantastic as the visuals; Chage & Aska are no J-POP idols of the week, they’ve been around for a good long while, and as such know how to SING. I rate this right beside Mononoke Hime for best of all time simply because of what it achieves, with so little to work with.




Student Reviews:





  Theme 3: Contemporary Variations in the presentation of the "modern" city in an historical setting

October 13

The Belly of an Architect (1987) (119 minutes)

Stourley Kracklite, played by Brian Dennehy, is a man with a prodigious ego, lust for life and may seem initially to be less than a sympathetic protagonist. He is an architect, an artist with a vision and a mission.From the beginning, his passion for his intellectual mentor,a fictional 18th century French architect, Etienne-Louis Boullee, and the scientist Sir Isaac Newton, provokes thinly veiled ridicule and skepticism from his Italian colleagues. Even when faced with a young and ruthless nemesis, Kracklite remains indomitable. His belly, the center of gravity, becomes a metaphor for his frailty, his humility and his humanity.
discussion questions



Student Reviews:

Anne-Marie Armstrong

Julia Farkas

October 27

Playtime: Jacques Tati (1973) (119 minutes)

Jacques Tati, the choreographer of the charming, comical ballet that is Playtime, casts the endearingly clumsy Monsieur Hulot as the principal character wandering through modernist Paris. Amid the babble of English, French and German tourists, Hulot tries to reconcile the old-fashioned ways with the confusion of the encroaching age of technology.

Interesting view of 1960's (Modern) Paris. Intriguing filming, sets and a highlight of the "sounds" of modernity.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

Tammy Chau

November 3

Diva (1982) (118 minutes)

Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren't enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules's mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta's pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

Elizabeth Myers

Theme 4: The development of the dystopic view of the urban future in architecture and film

November 3

Alphaville (1965) (99 minutes)

A cockeyed fusion of science fiction, pulp characters, and surrealist poetry, Godard's irreverent journey to the mysterious Alphaville remains one of the least conventional films of all time. Eddie Constantine stars as intergalactic hero Lemmy Caution, on a mission to kill the inventor of fascist computer Alpha 60.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

James Arvai

November 10
+ discussion questions from Diva, Playtime and Alphaville

Blade Runner (1982) (117 minutes)

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) prowls the steel and microchip jungle of 21st century Los Angeles. He's a "blade runner" stalking genetically made criminal replicants. His assignment: kill them. Their crime: wanting to be human. The story of Blade Runner is familiar to countless fans.

The version we will be viewing is the out of print original cut letterboxed version (only available on VHS) that includes the voiceover narration by Harrison Ford and some footage that was cut from the DVD release. (I have both editions available for the class).
discussion questions


http://www.brmovie.com/ http://s.webring.com/hub?ring=bladerunner http://scribble.com/uwi/br/off-world.html http://www.ozcraft.com/scifidu/blade_runner.html http://www.trussel.com/f_blade.htm http://apolloguide.com/mov_revtemp.asp?CId=2301 http://www.filmsite.org/blad.html http://www.blade-runner.it/

Student Reviews:

November 17

Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) (2 hours 30 minutes)

Brazil is a surrealistic nightmare vision of a "perfect" future where technology reigns supreme. Everyone is monitored by a secret government agency that forbids love to interfere with efficiency. Johathan Pryce and Robert De Niro star with Michael Palin in this chilling black comedy directed by former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. When a daydreaming bureaucrat becomes unwittingly involved with an underground superhero and a beautiful mystery woman, he becomes the tragic victim of his own romantic illusions.
discussion questions


Student Reviews:

Michael Votruba

November 24

The Fifth Element (1997) (126 minutes)

Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman star in acclaimed director Luc Besson's outrageous sci-fi adventure. An extravagantly styled tale of good against evil set in an unbelievable twenty-third century world.
discussion questions



Student Reviews:

Aaron Nelson

  Theme 5: Your interpretation of all of this
December 1
The last class of the term will showcase your film productions. These are to be ready (dvd or tape) for presentation in this class. Please be prepared.  
Other Miscellaneous Links:
(fantastic sci-fi film course homepage from Clemson University -- great links and reading references for a wide range of films)

Film 24: Berkeley 1997: Screening the Machine: Technology, Anxiety and the Movies. Interesting content. Great timeline.









Pedagogic Objectives:
The course is intended to develop a critical perspective of the use of architecture in film. Students will learn to examine both the medium of film and the form and style of architecture as they relates to the development of both film media and culture. Students will engage in research to understand the choices and expression of architecture used in film, as well as the relationship between the idea of the future and its relationship to both built and natural environments.

Completion Requirements:
The course will be run in a seminar format. Each week we will view a film, discuss its relevance to architecture, culture, environments, and the perception of all three. Some of the discussions will take place in a “for credit” mode. Attendance is mandatory. Two missed classes will constitute failure of the course.

Undergraduate Requirements:
Weekly Comments 20%:
Each week I will distribute a series of "questions" regarding the film viewed. The answers will be submitted and discussed at the beginning of the next class.

Assignment #1: The Review 30%
A web style review of the terms' films based on the use of architecture in the film. With the exception of the first week, students will be divided into groups in such a way as all of the films are addressed. The review will be due for formal in class presentation the week following the viewing. It will be discussed by the class. The reviews will be posted on the tboake UWSA website.
Link to introduction to Dreamweaver Tutorial link

Assignment #2: (B.Arch.)The Video 50%
The major work will be the creation of a Music/Architecture 'video' taking a piece of music of choice and create a visual/animated/video piece that relates selected architecture to the music. The project exposes students to a scaled down version of the process of selecting/designing the architectural set for film. The requirements and media will be left quite open. You may work in teams of up to 2 students or alone. You may select your own piece of music (minimum 3 minutes in length, maximum 10 minutes). You are to create a “video” that uses architecture and architectural images in such a way as to support the music, and vice versa.

Graduate Requirements:
Weekly Comments 20%:
Each week I will distribute a series of "questions" regarding the film viewed. The answers will be submitted and discussed at the beginning of the next class. The topics of the weekly questions given to the class at large will be designed to feed into the research essay requirement.

Assignment #1: The Video 40%
The major work will be the creation of a Music/Architecture 'video' taking a piece of music of choice and create a visual/animated/video piece that relates selected architecture to the music. The project exposes students to a scaled down version of the process of selecting/designing the architectural set for film. The requirements and media will be left quite open. You may work in teams of up to 2 students or alone. You may select your own piece of music (minimum 3 minutes in length, maximum 10 minutes). You are to create a “video” that uses architecture and architectural images in such a way as to support the music, and vice versa.

Assignment #3: Research Essay 40%
M.Arch. Students will be responsible for a 5,000 word research paper. The research papers will address a series of topics that will attempt to identify and connect different themes in the development of the use of architecture and urbanism in modern film. Such topics will include: representation of the metropolis, environmental change, transportation, methods of presenting architecture (sets, backdrops, live shoots, digital media), cinematic devices, shooting angles and positions, light and darkness, etc. The research paper is to be submitted in full essay format, illustrated, with proper footnoting and a bibliography of references.


Deitrich Neumann, editor. Film Architecture from Metropolis to Blade Runner. Prestel, 1999.

Mark Lamster, editor. Architecture and Film. Princeton Architectural Press, 2000.

Donald Albrecht. Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies. Hennessey + Ingalls, Santa Monica, 2000.

Maggie Toy, editor. A.D. Architectural Design Profile no. 112. Architecture and Film. Academy Group Ltd. 1994.

Maggie Toy, editor. A.D. Architectural Design Profile no. 150. Architecture + Animation. Wiley-Academy. 2001.

Francois Penz, editor. Cinema & Architecture: Melies, Mallet-Stevens, Multimedia. British Film Institute, 1997.

Thomas Hine. Movie Houses. Architectural Record. 04.02.

Terry Smith, editor. Impossible Presence: Surface and Screen in the Photographic Era. University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Avoidance of Academic Offenses
Students are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their actions. Students who are unsure whether an action constitutes an offense, or who need help in learning how to avoid offenses (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about rules for group work / collaboration should seek guidance from the course professor, TA, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean. For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy #71, Student Academic Discipline,
Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance,

last updated August 30, 2011