Architecture of Film

Topics: West Berlin, East Berlin, History of Berlin Pages: 18 (7704 words) Published: February 28, 2013
Built Spaces.
The Cultural Shaping of Architectural and Urban Spaces |  
___Gül Kaçmaz Erk Amsterdam / Istanbul |   | Architecture as Symbol: Space in Wim Wenders’ Cinema |  
  |   | The relation between architecture and cinema began more than a century ago with the production of the very first films. There is architecture in almost every film. Consciously or not, architecture takes its position as an effective element in films; architectural space influences what is shot. If it is possible to argue that cinema is under the influence of architecture, then it should also be stated that architecture discovered cinema. Cinema became a domain of inspiration for architecture especially in the late twentieth century. Now we may hear an architect saying a film has been influential on his design or see some new notions brought by cinema integrated into a building.

Most of the art forms such as painting, theater, ballet, literature, poetry, photography, cinema, including architecture, try to describe or create space. While space is a tool in cinema and the other forms, architecture uses art to make space. Space, whose creation is an artful act, is the product of architecture. One significant difference is that space is the foreground in architecture since it is the purpose and the reason of its existence. In cinema, the purpose is not necessarily to define or create space, however space is one of the inevitable elements like script, music, light and actors. In architecture, space is what you design and build for. Despite different perceptions, space is a shared concept for both architecture and cinema. A novel, a piece of music, a painting and a photograph can exist without the concept of space but a film cannot. Cinema depends on space (some ‘abstract’, usually animated, films are excluded). Film, as Lorcan O´Herlihy says, tells “spatial stories”: “The idea that the movement of a body through a constructed space and participating in its narration lends itself to a more intimate union between film and architecture,” (1994: 91). 

Cinema represents architecture, space, time, a person, an object, a story, an ideology, an event or a feeling. Film space can be seen as a representation of architectural space. What is represented in a film is about architecture, but it is not architecture itself. It is not its copy either. It is rather an interpretation of architecture. Just like films as “representational pictures” (Carroll, 1988: 98) are not the copy of the real, film space is not the copy of real space rather it is something new and different; it has its own reality.

Table 1. Approaches to space in cinema
In most films, space is in the background (Table 1). Most directors are neither concerned of the representation of space nor benefit from it as a tool effectively. Bowman says, “I don’t think that directors and their collaborators necessarily think about how they are going to arrange scenes spatially,” (1992: 4). These directors select spaces not as to the contribution of space to the film but due to its propriety for shooting such as light conditions or camera location. Therefore the name of this group, ‘space in the background’, has a metaphorical meaning. Space, in these films, is not a notion in the foreground. Another reason for choosing this name is literal: The space is physically in the background in these films. It is there, behind the action as a backdrop. It fills the empty parts behind actors in the solid cinematic frame.

Directors, who are considered to be the members of the ‘space in the foreground’ group, on the other hand, analyze, uncover, and transform space. They are interested in the representation of architecture and space in their films. They are aware of the potentials of space and make use of it by examining it and looking for its limits. Space, as an actor, is metaphorically and literally ‘in the foreground’ in these films. Space acts. Bart Mills says, “The setting is the...
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