Terri Meyer Boake BES BArch MArch LEED AP
Associate Professor _ Associate Director _ Undergraduate Academic Officer

Arch 443/646: Architecture and Film
Fall 2006: Course Home Page

blade runner




Wednesdays 10:00 to 2:00, Cambridge, Main Floor Lecture Hall
Please note: With the exception of the first class/film, the class will begin at 10 a.m. with discussion/responses to the previous week's film. The film listed for the week will start around 11 a.m. "Visitors" will always be welcome to the class.

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.


Film gives us the rare opportunity to completely question all that has come to be accepted in terms of the language of architecture as well as architectural and historic convention. Vitruvius claimed architecture was composed of the triple essence: strength, utility, and aesthetic effect. Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) quaintly changed this to, 'commodity, firmness and delight.' It would be safe to say that the majority of architecture that has been created to date has attempted to follow this dictate.

Why then, has much of the interesting film architecture, been used to both create and support environments and social situations whose purposes are more dystopic and that attempt to create fear in the occupants?

The final student film productions will also be asked to both question and address this issue in their subject matter and formal expression. The question will be asked, and answered: How do we build buildings? How do we build movies? How can we architecturally manipulate environments in film to distort realities? How is this done. Using models? By manipulating actual architectural sets? By creating digital or animated environments.

...the rustic huts meets...

We will be using FinalCutPro to make our films this term. The films will be required to manipulate their environments to produce a dystopic theme or feeling in their use of space in the film. How the effects are achieved is completely up to you.

The undergraduate and graduate work will also require the creation of a website using Dreamweaver. Masters student will prepare more "advanced" text intensive research related websites. Tutorials in both of these softwares will be provided. The website will create distinct topics related to the theme of dystopia and fear. A reflective piece will be published in a similar mode to the "Zero Gravity Environments" work from the Fall 2005 term.

Students wishing to explore some of these ideas using iMovie, are recommended to look at some additional plug-ins that are available at http://www.imovieplugins.com/ that enable rotation of movies and adjustment of image height (when it goes sideways...). This is not meant as an endorsement of the product. It just works and the plug-ins are relatively inexpensive.... invert clip, angle clip

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. The discussions will take place in a “for credit” mode. Attendance is mandatory. Two missed classes will constitute failure of the course.

web page for selection of topics for final dreamweaver assignment now ready!



Schedule of Classes and Films:
Please note: With the exception of the first class/film, the class will begin at 10 a.m. with responses to the previous week's film. The film listed for the week will start around 11 a.m. "Visitors" will always be welcome to the class.
Date Film Name and Details Reviews and Links
September 13
First half of class

The Cabinet of Dr. 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.


please read short article in "Metropolis to Blade Runner" p. 50-57

Second half of class

The Man With the Movie Camera 1929 | 68 minutes

A cameraman travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling inventiveness. This playful film is at once a documentary of a day in the life of the Soviet Union, a documentary of the filming of said documentary, and a depiction of an audience watching the film. Even the editing of the film is documented. We often see the cameraman who is purportedly making the film, but we rarely, if ever, see any of the footage he seems to be in the act of shooting!



...more man with the movie camera links to come...


September 20
first half of class

Metropolis 1927 | 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.



please read short articles in "Metropolis to Blade Runner" p. 33-38, 94-103



September 20
second half of class


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.




please read paper written by Steve Bondar link

September 23
1 to 4pm
Dreamweaver Tutorial
All undergrad students are required to submit a website as part of this course. This tutorial will address the use of Dreamweaver to create your site. ALL STUDENTS ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND.
Introduction to Dreamweaver Tutorial link

discussion questions

The Black Cat 1934 | 66 minutes

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugose star in this shocking horror classic of Satanism and murder. At a time when films often promoted modern architecture as a major attribute of fast-paced, modern life, here it became a distincitive feature of European decadance, a direct result of the horrors of World War I. Hjalmar Poelzig's ultramodern villa with Corbusier style ribbon windows is located above a World War I cemetary on the walls of the ruined fortress of Marmaro. "A masterpiece of construction built upon the ruins of a masterpiece of destruction." What was considered by many to be a wicked, shameless film, mercilessly satirizing celebrated European achievements in modern architecture, classical music, and film, became the most successful Universal Studios film of 1934.



please read short article in "Metropolis to Blade Runner" p. 116-117

September 27

Un Chien Andalou 1929 | 16 minutes

Acclaimed as a surrealist masterpiece, Un Chien andalou aggressively disconnects itself from narrative flow. The creators of this short film. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, fully intended there to be no links between successive scenes. Fortunately this didn't inhibit their dreaming up of some of the most striking moments ever to be projected upon the silver screen. The opening focuses on a man (Luis Buñuel) stropping his cut-throat razor, honing it to a perfect edge.

+ some other shorts from the Avant-Garde Collection

Un Chien Andalou:



Night and Fog:

Ballet Mecanique:


October 4
discussion questions

taking up these questions on Oct 18

Blade Runner 1982 | 120 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 theatrical release version 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).


http://www.brmovie.com/ http://s.webring.com/hub?ring







please read short article in "Metropolis to Blade Runner" p. 44-49, 148-159

Some great books on this film:
- Film Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
- Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
- Blade Runner: The Inside Story


October 11

questions on True Stories will be rolled into Clockwork Orange

we will start this class with some sections of the original voiceover narration version of Blade Runner

discussions questions for true stories/clockwork orange

True Stories 1986 | 89 minutes

Truly quirky, this mock documentary is part musical, part farce, and completely, oddly innocent. This is a one-man-band job for David Byrne (lead singer of the Talking Heads), who writes, stars, and directs, It's ostensibly about the sesquicentennial celebration of a small Texas town, but it's really about strange characters and strange attitudes. Byrne is our guide, driving us around and giving tour information about Texas in an innocuous patter, frequently running into Louis Fyne (John Goodman), a lonely man looking for love. At various times, and with little provocation, the film swoons into a Talking Heads number with preachers and bar patrons belting out tunes.

If you can't figure out why this is dystopic, maybe you ought to reconsider why you are in architecture :) TMB


...more true stories links to come...


October 18

discussions questions for true stories/clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange 1972 | 137 minutes

Stanley Kubrick's striking visual interpretation of Anthony Burgess's famous novel is a masterpiece. Malcolm McDowell delivers a clever, tongue-in-cheek performance as Alex, the leader of a quartet of droogs, a vicious group of young hoodlums who spend their nights stealing cars, fighting rival gangs, breaking into people's homes, and raping women. While other directors would simply exploit the violent elements of such a film without subtext, Kubrick maintains Burgess's dark, satirical social commentary. We watch Alex transform from a free-roaming miscreant into a convict used in a government experiment that attempts to reform criminals through an unorthodox new medical treatment. The catch, of course, is that this therapy may be nothing better than a quick cure-all for a society plagued by rampant crime.




October 25
FinalCutPro Tutorial
Use of this software is not mandatory to produce your movies but it will be "supported". The video lab at the school is set up with computers for exclusive FCP use by students. Students may also use iMovie as the regular lab computers are all equipped with iMovie/iDVD.
These look like great help sites:


November 1
discussion questions

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.

http://www.mrqe.com/lookup?^Brazil+(1985) http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/
http://www.trond.com/brazil/ http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/ http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue06/features/brazil.htm http://members.aol.com/morgands1/closeup/indices/gillindx.htm http://membres.lycos.fr/brazil/GB/indexgb.htm http://www.faqs.org/faqs/movies/brazil-faq/

Alphaville 1965 | 99 minutes

A cockeyed fusion of science fiction, pulp characters, and surrealist poetry, Jean Luc 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.


Akira 1988 | 124 minutes

In 1988, the landmark Anime film AKIRA, by director Katsuhiro Otomo, defined the cutting edge of Anime around the world. By today's standards, Akira remains the pinnacle of cel animation and retains the explosive impact of its highly detailed animation and its intensely violent saga of power and corruption. Neo-Tokyo has risen from the ashes of World War III to become a dark and dangerous megalopolis infested with gangs and terrorists. The government seethes with corruption and only maintains a token control over the powerful military that prevents total chaos and hides the secrets of the past.


...more akira links to come...


Sin City Extended Version 2005 | 147 minutes

This Recut & Extended Edition is the ultimate SIN CITY DVD Collection and features a new, never-before-seen extended version of the original motion picture, the original theatrical release with three new commentaries, and extensive brand-new bonus material! Also included, a complete SIN CITY graphic novel: "The Hard Goodbye." The acclaimed hit from director Robert Rodriguez delivers explosive stories straight from the pages of Frank Miller's hip series of "Sin City" graphic novels


...more sin city links to come...



A Scanner Darkly 2006 | minutes

How well you respond to Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly depends on how much you know about the life and work of celebrated science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. While it qualifies as a faithful adaptation of Dick's semiautobiographical 1977 novel about the perils of drug abuse, Big Brother-like surveillance and rampant paranoia in a very near future ("seven years from now"), this is still very much a Linklater film, and those two qualities don't always connect effectively. The creepy potency of Dick's premise remains: The drug war's been lost, citizens are kept under rigid surveillance by holographic scanning recorders, and a schizoid addict named Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is facing an identity crisis he's not even aware of: Due to his voluminous intake of the highly addictive psychotropic drug Substance D, Arctor's brain has been split in two, each hemisphere functioning separately.

...this depends upon the film coming out on DVD. Otherwise, there will be a surprise substition. I have many...TMB

complete script

...more a scanner darkly links to come...


Nov 29


Final Student Film Presentations!!!

Class will begin by taking up the questions from Akira/Sin City. Allow 1 hour 30 minutes. Student film presentations will begin at noon.

All students must be prepared to have their final films ready for showing on this date. Please be sure that they are burned to a DVD-R format disk! (or they won't work on a regular DVD player).


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. The answers will be posted on this webpage. To see what is involved, please visit the web page from Arch 443 Fall 2005. Look under "discussions" at each week's film entry. link

Assignment #1: The Review 30%
A web style review or exploration of the terms' films based on the use of architecture in the film. There should be a minimum of 1500 words of paragraph style text included in the web site that relates to the discussion of the link between dystopia, fear, architecture and film. The web sites should include links to external references, a bibliography, and give credit for included images and information. The reviews will be posted on the course webpage. The reviews are due TBA at 9 a.m.. You may use the Mac lab at the school to create your project. Be aware that the lab is shut down as of the morning of due date for its rebuild. Please refer to the website generated by the Fall 2005 class to see what we are going to do! link
Link to introduction to Dreamweaver Tutorial link

Assignment #2: (HBAS)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. The theme of the video is to reflect the study of the manipulation of architecture to create a feeling of dystopia and fear in the film.

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/website/essay requirement. The answers will be posted on this webpage. To see what is involved, please visit the web page from Arch 646 Fall 2005. Look under "discussions" at each week's film entry. link

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. The theme of the video is to reflect the study of the manipulation of architecture to create a feeling of dystopia and fear in the film.

Assignment #3: Advanced Web Site/Research "Piece" 40%
M.Arch. Students will be responsible for a 3,000 word research paper that is contained within a web site interface. 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 -- or anything else that reflects the content of this course or which may be relevant to your thesis. Full bibliographic references (and links to such if possible) are required to be posted on the webpage(s). If not, plagiarism can be charged. Please refer to the website generated by the Fall 2005 class to see what we are going to do! link


Deitrich Neumann, editor. Film Architecture from Metropolis to Blade Runner. Prestel, 1999. (only available now through amazon.com, in their used books area link1, link2. Or try www.alibris.com as they have some and a good selection of other used books.)

This is a simply amazing book that is now out of print. I have attempted to purchase as many of the films from this book as I can find, and now own:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [1920]
The Golem [1920]
Die Nibelungen [1924]
The Waxworks [1924]
Aelita - Queen of Mars [1924]
Metropolis [1927]
Sunrise [1927]
Asphalt [1929]
Just Imagine [1930]
The Black Cat [1934]
Things to Come [1936]
Lost Horizon [1937]
The Fountainhead [1949]
Mon Oncle [1958]
Playtime [1967]
Blade Runner (multiple versions) [1982]
Batman [1989]
Dick Tracy [1990]

If you are interested in a showing of any of these films, please let me know and I will arrange it. I prefer not to lend them out as many are out of print and rare and I have purchased them from personal funds.

complete list from my film library

More recommended texts coming... This is a carry over list from last year. Some of these are out of print. There will be new listings coming that are more in line with the topic of this year's course.

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.


Other miscellaneous, but helpful links:
great film course on the making of documentary films and their history

(fantastic sci-fi film course homepage from Clemson University -- great links and reading references for a wide range of films)



The Cinematic City: The City and Architecture in Motion Pictures




Filming Locations used in Many Movies:


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 January 28, 2010