10 architecture films to watch in coronavirus isolation
Boris Bilinkskin's poster for 1927 film Metropolis

10 films with amazing architecture to stream during coronavirus self-isolation

With hundreds of millions of people currently in isolation or lockdown, Dezeen's India Block has selected 10 feature films that use architecture in exciting ways to watch as a distraction from coronavirus-induced boredom.


 

 

Parasite, 2019

The rich family's house in Korean director Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning dark comedy about society practically steal's the show. Sleek modernist lines and expensive furniture betrays little hint of the leech-black darkness below the surface.

Built by the fictional architect Namgoong Hyeonja, the mansion was actually the work of production director Lee Ha-Jun and was made up of multiple sets, cut together to look like one building.

Parasite is available to rent on Apple TV and Amazon.


 

 

Metropolis, 1927

Metropolis is a silent science-fiction film from the 1920s directed by director Fritz Lang, where a story of robots and class war takes place in a sinister city of skyscrapers.

Art directors Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut and Karl Vollbrecht created a visually arresting city for rich buisenessmen, powered by underground machines manned by oppressed workers. Buildings in art deco, gothic and the Bauhaus style are layered to create an arresting vision of the future.

Metropolis is available to watch on Youtube and Google Play.


 

 

Bladerunner, 1982

Set in the future – Los Angeles in 2019 – Bladerunner's sci-fi story of a bounty hunter tracking robot replicants is set against a neon backdrop of a dystopian city that pays homage to Fritz Lang's metropolis.

Other visual and architectural influences on British director Ridley Scott included the sketches of futurist architect Antonio Sant'Elia, the industrial north east of England where Scott grew up, 1980s Hong Kong, French Métal Hurlant comics, and Edward Hopper's Nighthawk.

Bladerunner is available to watch on Amazon and Youtube.


 

 

Ghost in the Shell, 1995

Mamoru Oshii's anime cyberpunk tale of a cyborg hunting down a hacker in 2029 Japan takes its architectural cues from 1990s Hong Kong, the most futuristic Asian city of the day.

Art director Hiromasa Ogura visited the city and produced scores of photographs, sketches and paintings that formed the basis of the moody landscape fictional of the finished animation.

Ghost in the Shell is available to watch on Amazon.


 

 

Black Panther, 2018

Marvel's superhero film Black Panther takes places in the fictional country of Wakanda – a secret high-tech African kingdom. Set designer Hannah Beachler looked to the work of architect Zaha Hadid to create an atrofuturist vision of a city free from colonialism.

"[Zaha's work is] what I wanted people to feel for the modern architecture in Black Panther," Beachler told Dezeen. "Very voluptuous, very curvy, no hard edges and the spaces feel both very large and intimate at the same time."

Black Panther can be streamed on Youtube and Disney+.


 

 

Playtime, 1967

French mime Jacques Tatischeff directed and starred in comedy Playtime, which pokes fun at an absurdly modernist Paris from the future.

Scenes were filmed on huge sets constructed specially for the film. Dubbed Tativille, these stages required their own power plant, although to save money some of the backdrops of famous Paris landmarks were simply blown up photographs.

Playtime is available to watch on Criterion and iTunes.


 

 

High-Rise, 2015

Based on JG Ballard's 1975 novel of the same name, High Rise charts the descent into chaos of a 40-storey luxury tower block in London, where the residents lose touch with the outside world as class war erupts.

British director Ben Wheatley told Dezeen the film isn't a critique of the country's post war architecture, but was informed by his dislike of tower blocks – and a bad night in a Danish hotel.

"In the architectural plan they had to put these pillars in to make the structure worked but they didn't give a fuck about that room, so someone was going to suffer and it was the poor bastard who had to stay in that room," Wheatley said.

"That kind of thinking went in to the rest of the High Rise building – it took no prisoners."

High Rise is available to stream on Hulu and Amazon.


 

 

Rear Window, 1954

Alfred Hitchcock's claustrophobic thriller Rear Window is told from the fixed perspective of a photographer stuck indoors with a broken leg who becomes fixated on snooping through his neighbour's windows.

Greenwich Village apartments set around a courtyard become a stage for murder, intrigue and voyeurism. The film was made on a massive set built at Paramount, complete with a lighting system that could recreate different times of day and night, and a drainage system to manage a pivotal scene in a thunderstorm.

Rear Window can be watched online via the BFI and Amazon.


 

 

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

Adored by architects and designers everywhere, Stanley Kubrick's sci fi journey to the moon 2001: A Space Odyssey has minimum dialogue and maximum visuals.

Spaceship interiors feature glowing white grid floors studded with cherry-red modernist furniture, and the film's distinctive aesthetic has launched a thousand homages and exhibitions.

2001: A Space Odyssey can be streamed on Netflix and Amazon.


 

 

Isle of Dogs, 2018

Wes Anderson's whimsical stop-motion animated tale of a boy and a quarantined island full of dogs is set in a dystopian Japan 20 years in the future.

Production designer Paul Harrod told Dezeen he was inspired by Japanese Metabolist architecture, particularly the work of Kenzo Tange, when designing the intricate sets.

Harrod also drew on Edo-period illustrations and Frank Lloyd Wright's lost Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to create the "hellish and beautiful" worlds of Trash Island and Megasaki City.

Ise of Dogs is available to watch on Amazon.