AN INVESTIGATION OF THE
NATURE OF CITIES THROUGH THE PORTRAYAL OF ARCHITECTURE
IN FILM 2018
CHEN ROU ANN 17102274 MASTERS OF ARCHITECTURE MANCHESTER SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE SUPERVISOR: STEPHEN WALKER
TABLE OF CONTENT
2.1 PRODUCTION DESIGN 2.2 UTOPIA | DYSTOPIA 2.3 UTOPIA AND DYSTOPIA IN FILM
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3.1 THOR 3.1.1 UTOPIA | ASGARD 3.1.2 DYSTOPIA | SAKAAR 3.2 TOTAL RECALL 3.2.1 UTOPIA | UNITED FEDERATION OF BRITAIN 3.2.2 DYSTOPIA | NEW ASIA 3.3 ELYSIUM 3.3.1 UTOPIA | ELYSIUM 3.3.2 DYSTOPIA | 2158 LOS ANGELES 3.4 ALTERED CARBON 3.4.1 UTOPIA | ARIUM 3.4.2 DYSTOPIA | BAY CITY GROUND LEVEL
LIST OF FIGURES
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to acknoledge and thank the following people who have supported me through out this dissertation. I would like express my deep gratitude to my supervisor Dr Stephen Walker for the support, guidance and insight throughout this dissertation.
I would like to thank my family and friends, especially my father that have given me valuable feedback and advice, and his constant support. Lastly, to my partner, for the patience, and the encouragement.
ABSTRACT This dissertation involves in identifying the characteristics of utopian and dystopian cities through the portrayal of architecture in film. In the first section of the dissertation, the author explores the role of a production designer, and also the definition utopia and dystopia. The dissertation then studies about the design of future utopian and dystopian cities. The author then proceed to investigate the distinctive characteristics of the architecture and background design used in four different films, Thor Trilogy, Total Recall, Elysium and Altered Carbon. This paper seeks to classify the characteristics into a few category, and asks the question: are there similarities between futuristic utopian and dystopian films?
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1.0 | INTRODUCTION Since the 1900s, cinemas have been transporting audiences into anywhere, to any location, to whole new worlds, or different time periods, be it the past or the future. Production designers have been the reason why audiences have the pleasure to experience the magic of cinema. In Production Design and the History of Film, C.S. Tashiro describes that “Film design works from the difference between the physical world as it exists and the requirements of a particular narrative.” (Tashiro, 2004, page xiv).
Perhaps the most crucial element in the success of a movie is its ability to set the context. It is one of the factors that could make or break a film. Implementation of architecture plays a huge role in films as it sets the scene and tone, acting as background and sub-character to the film. It gives a sense of familiarity and a sensation of realism to the film. Architecture is at the core of the film, as film is not set without a background. For most of the films, they were set in the present, or the past, which the set designers have a reference of for the film set. My fascination is towards films that are set in a future timeline. It is always intriguing where the designers have to re-imagine a future city, or create a whole new universe. Though more often than not, the plots were action films, the work that were put into designing the background of the films to make sure that the viewers were completely convinced about being immersed into a completely new world.
I’ve always been interested in film, but I still remember the day that the visual design (or scene in a movie) caught my attention. I was in the first year of my architecture degree when Thor: Dark World was screening in the cinema. I remember watching it in the cinema, and for the first time, the spectacular bird’s eye view of Asgard took my breath away, like a vortex it sucked me into the film. The ability of the production designers to imagine the fantasy world, converting from 2D comics and scripts to a three dimensional world was astounding. From that day on, architectural design in film piqued my interest.
This dissertation focuses on films involving futuristic or imaginary cities. The films usually splits the city into two archetypes, a utopian city, for the rich and the elites; while the poor and despicable occupy a dystopian slum. The primary opportunity of this dissertation is to analyze and classify what is considered a ‘utopian’ city and what is a ‘dystopian’ city in film, and also to analyze the muse and the architectural style behind the creation of a fantasy city.
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Utopia is defined as “an Imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2018) While dystopia is “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2018). Utopia in the beginning of dystopian films usually shows a perfectly functioning world, while slowly it introduces a schizophrenic element to it, where the invention or something that perfected the world goes horribly wrong. Films are usually paired with a contrasting world - the dystopia- where the people are suffering and facing injustice. There is no specific definition of what a utopia or dystopia, as no one person’s perfect world is the same as the other.
The ‘problems’ explored in the film often reflect the problems of the current era. In the 1990’s, people were worried about technology taking over, hence films like iRobot and Terminator exists. While in the early 2000’s, when social media became more prevalent in our daily lives, people were starting to worry more about privacy, films like Minority Report and Total Recall were made. Recently in the 2010’s, overcrowding seems to be a recurring theme for films, such as Elysium, What Happened to Monday - a series about a world where one couple is only allowed to have one child, and the successful franchise Hunger Games trilogy.
This dissertation discusses the elements of architecture in which the set designers define what a utopian or dystopian city would be on screen, making a choice to disregard elements of sociology definition of what perfection is. This dissertation explores the following films: Thor trilogy [Thor(2011), Thor: Dark World (2013), Thor: Ragnarok (2017)], Total Recall (2006), Elysium (2013), and also ventures into a television series Alternate Carbon (2018). Studying films from different eras and their versions of future cities, the designer’s definition of utopian and dystopian future can be studied and understood. Films such as Metropolis (1927) and Blade Runner (1982) were the pioneers of the cinematic world of the future, they were not chosen as the main topic for this dissertation as there is a large body of literature already available based on these titles, and will be used as reference. This dissertation then uses newer and more recent films as case studies on investigating the characteristics of a utopian and dystopian future, analyzing the traits and elements of its architecture.
The aim of the research question is to create a discussion and to analyse the relationship between Through
and surrounding elements that fits into the Utopian and Dystopian picture is recognized.
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Due to the nature of the topic, most research of the films in the dissertation is done online. Most of the sources were from critics and fans in blogs predicting the theory, hence most of the information gathered were taken critically, recognizing inherent biases of its authors. Information from multiple sources were collected and analyzed before reaching a solid conclusion. With the research, this dissertation aims to determine the characteristics of the Utopian and Dystopian Architecture, to compare similarities between Utopian and dystopian architecture across films. The similarities between utopia and dystopia in different films will then be analyzed and listed.
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2.0 | LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 | PRODUCTION DESIGN In a film crew, the production team holds responsibility to translate scenes from script and the script writer’s imagination into real life, be it films from the past, to distant futures or on an alien planet light years away from earth. Production design ranges from scouting for location, to composing an entirely new set for a film, to details such as lighting, costumes, vehicles, make-up and props, with the goal of fitting the theme of the film, aiming to transport the audience from their seats to a different location. They use only fragments of nature or architecture or manmade objects, can evoke mood, establish themes, and etch characters in film. (Heisner 1990, pg 1)
In Hollywood Art: Art Direction in the Days of the Great Studios, Heisner stated that set design is a branch of architecture in which environments are built, but seldom in their entirety and seldom to last. Spaces were created, including interior or exterior, facades and in some cases (I.e. Thor) entire towns are built for the sake of the film. These temporary buildings are often seen by more people than any built structures in the world. When explaining how fellow architects are migrating into the movie world, a member of American Institute of Architects mentioned “The buildings they depict are not permanent to be sure, but they reach many more people with their message than do many permanent buildings” (Esperdy 2007, pg198 )
Films have always been a great way to express extravagant architecture that is unable or impossible to be built in the real world, due to funds or the engineering and technology limitation. Esperdy mentioned that In the 1920’s, due to architect’s spatial, structural and aesthetic knowledge, magazines such as The American Architect, The Architectural record and Pencil Points regarded motion pictures as an ideal field for architects . They also pointed out that since set design was unburdened by demand and construction limitation, films give architects the opportunity for imaginative, even fantastic architectural exploration. (Carrick and Zeigler, cited in Esperdy, 2007)
Architecture in film and the structure of the film itself are used as “amplifiers” to transport the viewers into the experience, Juhai Pallasmaa (cited in Crosbie & Sawruk 2001) describes, “Cinematic architecture evokes and sustains specific mental states; the architecture of film is an architecture of terror, anguish, suspense, boredom, alienation, melancholy, happiness or ecstasy, depending on the essence of the particular cinematic narrative and the director’s intention. Space and architectural PAGE | 7
imagery are the amplifiers of specific emotions.â€?
In the case of designing cities of the future, whether or not utopias and dystopias exists, set designers have to prepare and imagine all aspects of the new world, from the usual interior and exterior decors, but also a complete urban environment, including plans for streets, large-scale buildings and public transportation systems.
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2.2 | UTOPIA | DYSTOPIA The word Utopia was coined by Sir Thomas More in a book when describing a fictional island society. The word originated from Greek: οu (“not”) and τόπος (“place”), which means no-place, utopia is ’ nowhere, and if utopian societies can be said to have any defining characteristics, then a lack of existence in the real world is probably one of them. (Houston, 2017). Since the dawn of civilization, utopia has been envisioned, where the Greeks and the Roman imagined and built their cities according to their interpretation of their Utopia. Plato sketched basic political structure and laws of an ideal city named Magnesia, where he envisioned an enlightened republic ruled by philosopher kings. Many religions promise bliss in the after life, and throughout history various groups have tried to build paradise on earth. Garden of Eden (Image 2.2.1) was one of the first utopia introduced in the bible, depicting a world free from evil, illness, pain and desire. The tower of babel Has its roots across many different cultures. In the story about the Tower of Babel, every one speaks one language. They then started envisioning a huge tower that allows them to reach heaven.
Image 2.2.1 : The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man by Peter Paul Ruben and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Laie, 2018)
Dystopia usually refers to a malfunctioning world, and most explore anxieties within cultures and society. The issue of dystopian futures has been narrated throughout the ages dependent on the era’s contemporary problems. As technology progresses, the projections of dystopian visions evolve. By the end of the nineteenth century the common belief was that machines would eventually abolish the need for everyday life, then in the late twentieth century to early twenty first century the belief was that digital technology would rule the world (Avgitidou, 2010). It has been concluded that dystopian visions generally derived from exaggerated presents.
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Some dystopia claims to be false utopias, where the world seems to be perfect and have no fault, while in reality, the fault is very well hidden or ignored by the inhabitants of that world. Dystopian films often focus on always beginning with a society appears to be perfect, but always seems to fall short. There is a reason utopia means ‘No place’. (False Utopia, n.d.)
“Bill: What’s Utopia? The Doctor: An imaginary perfect place. Bill: This isn’t imaginary. The Doctor: I bet it isn’t perfect either.” - (Doctor Who, 2017)
The juxtaposition of utopian and dystopian worlds in narrative have existed for the longest time. Artists around the world have been creating ‘False Utopias’ in their work, from the 1726 novel, Gulliver’s Travels, to films such as Metropolis. With most stories, the author or artist place emphasis on the perfection of one city, then slowly introduces the nightmare into the narrative.
In Jonathan swift’s Gulliver Travels (1726), Guliver encounters fictional societies, some of it at first seems impressive but it turns out seriously flawed. On the Flying island of Laputa, scientists and social planner, obsesses on over extravagant and useless schemes while ignoring the people in need on the ground below. In the land of Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses live in perfectly logical harmony but have no tolerance for the imperfection of their humanoid beings, the Yahoos, which they have tamed. A blueprint for dystopia with his novel was established by Swift, Swift imagined a world where certain trends in the present-day society are taken into extreme, exposing their underlying flaws, hence a blueprint for dystopia was established. (How to recognize a dystopia, 2016)
Dystopia usually refers to a malfunctioning world, and most explore anxieties within cultures and society. The issue of dystopian futures has been narrated throughout the ages dependent on the era’s contemporary problems. As technology progresses, the projections of dystopian visions evolve. By the end of the nineteenth century the common belief was that machines would eventually abolish the need for everyday life, then in the late twentieth century to early twenty first century the belief was that digital technology would rule the world (Avgitidou, 2010). It has been concluded that dystopian visions are generally derived from exaggerated presents.
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Image 2.2.2 : The sectional view of the Metropolis (Novak, 2016)
In the film Metropolis (1927) (Image 2.2.2) a futuristic urban utopian society is introduced, where the people stay in high-rise towers and spends the day leisuring in a pleasure garden. The city masterâ€™s son, Freder then stumbles upon a society underground, and learns the horrible truth where the people work in terrible conditions to operate machines that power the city. According to Anton Kaes (cited in Lucarelli, 2012) Metropolis takes a nod to the society context of that era, where the societies were submitting under a facist leader.
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2.2 | UTOPIA AND DYSTOPIA IN FILM Utopian cities often portray high-rise, white or steel based building, while dystopians depict slums and crumbling old buildings. They are usually the nightmare and dream (Albrecht 1987, pg 154). Crosbie and Sawruk (2016) discuss film utopias/dystopias and their architectural characteristics - how the portrayal of both is achieved through the experience of architecture and its elements by not only the film’s character but also by the film’s viewers. Most importantly, the ideology of the future society that was the film’s subject have to be reflected by the design, whether it is a peaceful, rational civilization or of a cruel, discriminating dystopia.
Architectural features, symbols and mechanism are used throughout films to set specific visual tone on screen, implication of social status, exaggerating danger and hopelessness, reflection of controlling government and so on. The way architecture in film not only utilizes space, scale, lighting, materials ornament, symbols, style, color, shadow and sound, but also depending on camera angles and the surrounding to allow the viewers to virtually inhabit a world that does not exist. (Crosbie and Sawruk 2016)
In Designing Dreams (1987), Albrecht discusses the precedence of cinematic cities in distant future, where cities and the architectural languages play a huge role. Current cities have always been a precedent for set designers when designing future cities, be it utopian or dystopian. As Albrecht state that one of the cities that has been providing inspiration for the future cities is New York. Cinema’s first future city, Metropolis (1927) used New York as a model. While entering New York harbour in 1924, Fritz Lang - the director of Metropolis - envisioned the idea for a film about a great future city which was a jumble of stone spires. Apart from cities from around the world, urban planning ideas from the era are examples for future cities in cinematic history too. In a way, while city planning, one does imagine the implication of a perfect city.
Metropolis (1927) (Image 2.3.1) was one of the very first films about future cities in the history of film, and it has been a template for all future cities in films. The split of two different social classes is very apparent, one where the thinkers live in the ideal city and the workers, in an underground city. The workers labour in a hellish industrial complex under the city, where the machine was compared to Moloch, an ancient Semitic deity honored by human sacrifices (Vigilantcitizen, 2010). While the workers slave away in an underground hellish dystopia, the thinkers, on the other hand, evolve into a gleaming utopia, a magnificent testimony of human achievement. In this film, the drastic 12 | PAGE
Image 2.3.1: Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
difference of two opposite social class is depicted and shown very clearly. Template provided by Metropolis (1927) has set the visual and architectural language that has been used by hundreds and thousands of films throughout the century of cinematic history.
Blade Runner (1982) (Image 2.3.2) set an excellent precedence for the future of science fiction films. It was filled with forward looking visual aesthetics. Blade Runner’s production designer Scott states that the sets were referenced from multiple sources: “Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks, the skyline of Hong Kong at night, the fiery industrial landscape of Tyneside and Teesside of Scott’s childhood, the French comicbook Métal Hurlant [Heavy Metal], and, quite clearly, Metropolis.” (Cited from Gancey 2009) Expansive cityscapes with oversized architecture, once again, another Tower of Babel interpretation. The city is colourful and bright yet it is mostly dark, it is a labyrinthian technological maze of advertising, futuristic dreamscapes and places similar to cities and yet more sinister. Cityscape is familiar with neon signs and street side vendors. The science fiction of the film comes alive with the machines of the sky and its buildings that is designed with these machine in mind that set this film in its futurist trajectory. (Architecture in the Movies | Blade Runner 2017)
As predicting the future is near impossible, finding reference in the real world helps production designers to bring a script to life, by exaggerating on presentations of the current society, interpreting on behalf of the narrator. By relating film to the real world, it allows the audience to be manipulated into believing that the representation in the films were real. Understanding what utopia and dystopia PAGE | 13
is, and the design process allows one in creating a discussion of identifying the characteristics of both worlds in film.
Image 2.3.2 : Blade Runner city (Scott 1982)
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3.0 | CASE STUDY
In this chapter, this dissertation aims to define the characteristics and features from both the utopian and dystopian world of four films: : Thor trilogy [Thor(2011), Thor: Dark World (2013), Thor: Ragnarok (2017)], Total Recall (2006), Elysium (2013), and television series Altered Carbon (2018). Architectural characteristics of the films will be identified and analyzed to provide information for the comparison of trait for both utopia and dystopia.
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Image 184.108.40.206 symmetrical panaromic view. (Taylor, 2013)
Image 220.127.116.11 Interior of Bifrost room. (Taylor, 2013)
Image 18.104.22.168 Double Height of the Bifrost room. (Taylor, 2013)
Image 22.214.171.124 Metalic hue of Hall of Asgard. (Taylor, 2013)
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3.1 |THOR 3.1.1 | UTOPIA - ASGARD The Thor Trilogy takes part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which originates from the Marvel comics franchise. In the Marvel Universe, some of the cities are taken from the real world, for example: New York, Johannesburg and Seoul. However, not all cities that are seen in the universe exist in the real world. Cities such as Sokovia, K’un Lun, Olympia and Wakanda are fictional, Asgard and Sakaar falls into this category as well. In the first two parts of the trilogy, the film takes the audience to and from Asgard and Earth, while the last of the trilogy, Sakaar was introduced. Asgard and Sakaar are polar opposites - where Asgard, was built by and for the Gods and demigods, Sakaar rose from junkyards built using discarded wastes and is mostly occupied by the ‘scums of the universe’. (Marvel / Behind the scenes of the Thor: Ragnarok set design 2017)
Asgard (Image 126.96.36.199) is an extradimensional place and the home to the Norse Gods and demigods, such as Thor Odinson, the God of Lightning and Odin Borson All-father, prime God of the Norse Mythos. It exists in another dimensional plane, unlike Earth, it does not spin on an axis, nor it is spherical. It is a flat, asteroid-like mass, floating in another dimension. Asgard has one permanent portal, the Bifrost (Image 188.8.131.52), the Rainbow Bridge that allows the citizens to travel to other dimensions. (Marvel, n.d.)
Although Asgard is an ancient city, it is very technologically advanced. (Image 184.108.40.206) By contrasting a distinct blend of classical age and sci-fi technology, Asgard’s design was kept simple yet elegant while projecting a very divine atmosphere. (Frei, 2011) Asgard stems from Norse Mythology, hence the various aspects of Asgard project a heavy sense of medieval Scandinavian influence with sharp structures piercing the heavens akin to ancient Nordic religious houses found in North-western Europe. The similarity could be due to the Norse mythos being the major belief before the influx of Christianity into the North-western European area.
Dan Hennah, Thor’s production designer explained that when they were designing the city, it was a city meant for Gods and demigods. “It’s home to gods, the previous incarnation was stone and gold.” Hennah explained. (Anderson, 2017) The city exudes a wave of being ‘beyond the reach of mortals’. Asgard gleams with massive structures glistening with metallic hues, surrounded by golden spires and elegantly designed structures. (Image 220.127.116.11)
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Image 18.104.22.168 Rainbow bridge leading from the Bifrost to Throne Hall. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 22.214.171.124 Biforst, a perfectly symmetrical example. (Waititi, 2017)
Figure 126.96.36.199 Sketches of symmetry of the Bifrost
Figure 188.8.131.52 Sketches of symmetry of Rainbow Bridge to Asgard Hall.
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With the city heavily influenced by ancient Nordic design, the various buildings of Asgard contain influences borrowed from ancient Scandinavian stereotypes such as horns similar to those often used to describe the Viking helmets of old. While the rest of the city gleams in chrome and dark metallic hues, the building that stands out the most is the Hall of Asgard, where the royalty resides. It rises from the city as the tallest and widest building in Asgard, piercing into the clouds, radiating bright gold befitting its status as the center of power of the country-dimension.
Hennah and his team played with geometry while designing the city, especially so in the halls of Asgard. The rainbow bridge (Image 184.108.40.206) was supported by pillars on either side leading up the the eyeball shaped, Bifrost. The unique shape of the Bifrost (Image 220.127.116.11) plays homage to the allseeing nature of Asgard which functions as the protectors of the nine realms.
The most common Bilateral Symmetry, could be seen in all cultures and in any era. (Williams, 1998) Symmetry is almost nature’s language. (Marcus du Sautoy: Symmetry, reality’s riddle, 2009) Williams (1998) states that due to the experience of nature and the experience of our bodies, bilateral symmetry is popular. Multiple cultures believe that God created man in His/Their own image, and in turn architecture has been created in the image of man. As Leonado Da Vinci’s famous drawing of The Vitruvian Man demonstrated, architectural symmetry reflects the human body, which has a right side and a left, a back and a front, the navel in the very centre. (Rybczynski, 2008). Sautoy (Cited in Rybczysky, 2008) states that human mind seems constantly drawn to anything that embodies some aspect of symmetry. The path way bridge from the Bifrost to Hall of Asgard (Figure 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124) creates a perfect mirror symmetry. The interiors of the halls are also symmetrical shaped (Image 126.96.36.199), with a perfect balance between both sides. The designs were pleasing and easy on the eyes, adding to the wide broad halls, fitting the theme of the script.
Scenes of Asgard in the trilogy were mostly held in the halls of Asgard, especially the throne room, where Odin sits. Massive hall with humongous columns grace the scene, the golden tone projects a regal status from the ruler. The halls are designed with high ceilings (Image 188.8.131.52) to give a feeling of majestic - a reference to church/cathedrals. It gives a sense of awe when facing such high ceiling, which makes one feel very small in comparison. The throne is also set on a higher pedestal, like the altar in a church, paired with the golden tones, this provides the individual seated on the throne a sense of power and authority. (Image 184.108.40.206)
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Image 220.127.116.11 Throne sits on a pedestal, giving the person sitting on the throne a sense of authority. (Waititi, 2017)
Image18.104.22.168 Huge throne room with high ceiling. (Taylor, 2013)
Image22.214.171.124 Sagrada Familia towering over Barcelona city scape (Arrifin 2018)
Image 126.96.36.199 Throne Hall towering over the whole of Asgard. (Waititi, 2017)
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In Asgard, gold has been used in abundance especially in the place of power. Golden tone projects a regal status from the ruler. Colour plays an important role in film as an element to communicate with viewers. As Fusco (2016) stated, if one were to make a scene resonate emotionally in a subtle way, there may be no better way than to choose a colour associated with the emotion one is trying to evoke. When used carefully, colours channel both positive and negative influences to one’s emotion. Risk (2017) mentioned that colour can affect the viewer not only emotionally, but psychologically and even physically without them being aware.
Asgard itself consist with majestic towering buildings (Image 188.8.131.52), with wide open public realms (Image 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11) and is dotted with lush greenery throughout the realm. According to David Nicholson-Cole (2017), throughout history, “tall structures were the preserve of great rulers, religion and empires”. For example, the Pyramids of Giza once towered over 145 meters high, while churches and basilicas were built to be massive and intimidating. Humans have always tried to pursue building structures to ever greater heights, to celebrate culture and religion, or simply just to show off. In the modern day, tall buildings are often seen as successful and grand. Asgard Throne Hall were similar to a place of religion, where Odin, a God and the ruler of Asgard stayed. It is similiar to humans building a place to express the Christian belief through architecture, such as Sagrada Famiglia (Image 18.104.22.168). Gaudi wanted express his respect to God and to make an impact on the skyline. Hence, the Sagrada will be one of the tallest religious buildings in the world. The basilica towers over the whole of Barcelona as a symbol of faith. (Sagrada Familia, n.d.)
The realm has vegetation growing luxuriantly everywhere. (Image 22.214.171.124) They not only allow the city to appear more welcoming, but according to findings by UK researcher Mathew White, from European centre for Environment and Human Health at University of Exeter, fewer signs of anxiety and depression were displayed in people who lived in greener areas. (Kinver 2014) The positive impacts of green spaces may be the reason that lead to the designers interpretation of adding to better more livable realm.
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Image 126.96.36.199 Public spaces in Asgard (Waititi, 2017) Image 188.8.131.52 Cityscape of Asgard, showing not only the huge buildings but the lush landscape of Asgard. (Taylor, 2013)
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Image 184.108.40.206 Cityscape of Asgard, showing off tall majestic buildings (Taylor, 2013) Image 220.127.116.11 Buildings in Asgard towering over wide pedestrain pathways. (Taylor, 2013)
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Image 18.104.22.168 Wormhole that spits out waste into the junkyard. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 22.214.171.124 Thor overlooking the city of Sakaar from a distance. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 126.96.36.199 Birds eye view of Sakaar. The mismatch of colours and the chaotic nature of the city from a distance. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 188.8.131.52 City of Sakaar rising from the junkyard. (Waititi, 2017)
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3.1.2 | DYSTOPIA - SAKAAR In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor lost a fight and was pushed off into the universe. He was then sucked into a wormhole and crash-landed into junkyard world of Sakaar. “Sakaar’s populated by aliens and the sky in Sakaar has a number of wormholes that deposit space waste. Basically if you’re flying through space, you can get caught in a wormhole, and it’s a bit of a sewer.” said Dan Hennah. (Davis, 2017)
Sakaar, in the Marvel Cinematic universe, is an artificial planet created by Sakaar’s ruler, the Grandmaster. A field of wormholes (Image 184.108.40.206) crowd the skies, where it sucks in unsuspecting space travelers and deposits them into the planet’s crowded junkyard. With the wealth of different technologies and alien creatures stranded on the planet, Sakaar built itself up from spaceship scrap and broken dreams to become an “Island of Misfit Toys.”. (Image 220.127.116.11) Executive producer Brad WInderbaum described Sakaar as “Space Vegas”. He mentions, “Essentially, if anything goes wrong with your intergalactic travels in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’re going to get spat out into the toilet of the universe which is this planet.” (Puchko, 2007)
The production team took inspiration from Jack Kirby’s 1960’s comics. Jack Kirby is known as the “King of Comics” is one of the most influential comic book artists from the 1940s. He is also a very important artist that helped create a few main characters in the Marvel Universe, I.e. Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and The Mighty Thor. The way the film portrays Sakaar is distinctly different from the other dystopias that this dissertation will be discussing [Total Recall, Elysium and Altered Carbon]. With the inspiration from Jack Kirby’s art, the production team made a decision to pluck the vibrant colours, geometric shapes, texture and details from Kirby’s comic panels.
While the cities that this dissertation will be discussing later on in the chapter has a very messy and mute background, Sakaar, although a ‘trash planet’, is vibrant in colour, and full of life. (Image 18.104.22.168) The walls were in odd shapes, triangles and circles rather than traditional squares and rectangles. On top of that, it glows in intense colours of orange, red, blue and teal. Though vibrant, the colours were cluttered together, overlapping each other, causing the scenes to be sporadic [be]and chaotic, hence resulting in a very noisy cityscape.
From a bird’s eye view of the city [image], the city is crowded with skyscrapers, the scene very similar to a junk yard. Known as the City of recycled metal, the city holds true to its name. Hennah mentioned that he would imagine the citizens would smelt debris down and put the city PAGE | 25
Image 22.214.171.124 Buildings with miss match colour causing the scene to be chaotic (Waititi, 2017)
Image 126.96.36.199 Outskirts of Sakaar, filled with waste. The city could be seen rising from the junkyard, slowly getting more condense towards the middle of the city. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 188.8.131.52 Sakaarâ€™s lower region of the city crowded with structures. (Waititi, 2017)
Image 184.108.40.206 lleyway in Sakaar, with oddly shaped structures and wires hanging from the wall. (Waititi, 2017)
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together by scavenging the junk and machines that were spit out by the wormhole. (Ellwood, 2017) There was clearly a lack of coordination whether in colour, design or height of the buildings. There were also discussions by Dan Hennah about the lack of vegetation in Sakaar, which emphasises the artificial nature of the planet. As discussed in the utopia Asgard, lack of green spaces in Sakaar increases the level of anxiety and the feeling of overcrowded and a negative impact to the city.
The plot takes the audience through the city of Sakaar. The city itself is starkly different from the place of power. The city is run down and chaotic, surrounded and close to junkyards and piles of rubbish. It is as if the city itself is built from the piles of junkyard, rising from itself. Collecting any scrap that is useful and practical, piecing it together like Legoâ€™s to form a place to survive.
The film also takes the audience through the marketplace. The buildings were disorganized, in no particular order, and were stacks upon stacks of structures. Each structure looked as if it was built from the building below, depending on each other while they extend up vertically into the sky. On the ground level, the building dissolves together to form a huge establishment with narrow, curved alley way. There were also very visible absence of vegetation throughout Sakaar.
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Image 220.127.116.11 Crowded streets with overhanging wires, mixture of colours. (Waititi, 2017) Image 18.104.22.168 The buildings consist of mismatch shape and colour. City streets crowded with people , on the left there were vendors doing their daily business. (Waititi, 2017)
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Image 22.214.171.124 Alleyway of Sakaar littered with rubbish. (Waititi, 2017)
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Image 126.96.36.199 United Federation of Britain cityscape, with the Fall situated in the middle of the city. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 188.8.131.52 Highway that stretches across the tiered city. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 184.108.40.206 Interior of â€œthe Fallâ€? re the workers travel to and fro from UFB and New Asia. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 220.127.116.11 Tiers of huge buildings stretches across the top of the highway in UFB. (Wiseman, 2012)
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3.2 | TOTAL RECALL 3.2.1 | UTOPIA - UNITED FEDERATION OF BRITAIN (UFB) Total Recall (2006) is a science fiction film set in the future – towards the end of the 21st century when the earth has been left uninhabitable by chemical warfare. After the warfare, while the people crowded into Europe and Australia, the world is split into two and land became a precious resource. What remained was divided into two massive nation states, the United Federation of Britain (UFB) (Image 18.104.22.168) and New Asia (Australia). In this future, there was technology that could alter and add memories. There were companies that advertise turning dreams into memories where it enables someone to have fake memories planted into them so that they have the pleasure of experiencing something that they have never done before without needing to travel or be in an actual physical danger.
Douglas Quaid, a factory worker who have been suffering from repetitive dreams of him being a spy for a long period of time. He ended up in a clinic and underwent a memory implant procedure to escape his frustrating life that went horribly wrong and he became a hunted man and found himself being hunted by the police controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen, the leader of the free world. He then teamed up with a rebel fighters to stop the Cohaagen. The story follows the chasing of Quaid from one world to the other, taking the audience through the journey from New Asia to the contemporary UFB.
The two contrasting cities were on opposite sides of the world. To decrease the time travel from one end to another, a gravity elevator running through the Earth’s core, called “The Fall” was created. It travels from one end to the other very quickly, and is depicted to be used as normal commute, similar to today’s tram and trains. (Image 22.214.171.124) Huge companies employ citizens from New Asia to work in UFB for lower wages and the workers travel to UFB daily to work in factories via “The Fall”. (Image 126.96.36.199)
UFB is portrayed to be the upper class, richer side of the two, with towering futuristic marvel. New Asia is visualized as a dystopia and clearly poorer city, with a huge melting pot of different social classes and crime was rampant in New Asia. The stark differences between two sides of the earth are plenty, but there are also similarities. Both continents have to accommodate high density of residents crowding into both sides of the city. People adapt to the situation by PAGE | 31
Image 188.8.131.52 The cityscapes of buildings showing humongous buildings and the different tiers of the city. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 184.108.40.206 Open air public spaces below a highway in the city, overlooking the city below. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 220.127.116.11 Suspended wide pedestrian walkways around the city, with clean streets. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 18.104.22.168 around the city in UFB. (Wiseman, 2012)
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creating new technology to fit more people into smaller areas. Keyes (2010) mentioned in his article “Like New Asia, the UFB is also a city with multiple tiers. Using a blend of new technology, massive skyscrapers with Victorian ‘neo-classical’ style towers around the city. (Image 22.214.171.124) Though using seemingly similar technology, the design of UFB environments are vast in contrast to the grungy, darker aesthetic and oppressed vibe given off by downtown New Asia.” The production designers did a great job in Total Recall in designing both cities in a way, that though the cities are on the opposite sides of the world, if seen separately, they could be linked and recognized to be from the same world due to the similar structural technology. UFB features massive skyscrapers, incorporating a blend of contemporary technology with a Victorian feel. Both UFB and New Asia encompasses overhanging buildings, revealing that the people adapted to their situation, dealing with the density by resolving these challenges with technological solutions, by building upwards into the sky. In UFB, the overhung buildings were built high up, tiering above the first layers of skyscrappers, buildings and highways, making full use of the available technology.
The UFB buildings were furnished with bright white and blue shade materials, extracting the feeling of peace, harmony and trust in the city, but also a hint of coldness, regulation and distance. The city streets and the exterior structures were also fashioned in cold colours such as grey and blue toned. It also gives the uniformity and discipline to the city that New Asia lacks as shown later in the dissertation.
There was an obvious sense of urban planning seen in UFB. With public areas, wide pedestrian streets and greenery: the people living in UFB clearly enjoyed luxuries unavailable to their counter-parts in New Asia. UFB has the funds and resources to spend on making the city a better place, providing the citizens with ample public space. There were also cantilevered balconies in the UFB allocated to public spaces, outdoor cafes and garden areas. (Image 126.96.36.199) Though the greenery in UFB were limited, it still exists on some levels of the city, patches of vegetation could be seen around the city. (Image 188.8.131.52 annd Image 184.108.40.206)
The interior of the buildings are equally as organized as the exterior. (Image 220.127.116.11 , 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124) Clean, broad and brightly lit spaces with huge class windows and high ceiling gave off an inviting vibe. It is believed that designers are more susceptible to designing spaces with high ceiling to create a more desirable space, as psychologist Osin Vartanian (Cited in Griffiths, 2015) explained, “rooms with higher ceiling promotes visualspatial exploration, while at the same time prompt us to think more freely. This could be a rather potent combination for inducing positive feelings.” In her PAGE | 33
Image 126.96.36.199 Greenscape in public spaces around UFB (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 188.8.131.52 Interior of building with high ceilings and smooth white finishes . (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 184.108.40.206 Interior of blue, black and white hue, creating a uniform look throughout the city. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 220.127.116.11 The Fall entryway from New Asia. (Wiseman, 2012)
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article, Griffiths (2015) finds that while the professor lead a study that indicated that the spaces with high ceilings were found more attractive than those with lower ceilings. Not only that, another study shows that while given anagrams to solve, volunteers were able to complete their work faster in a room with higher ceiling. They associate the word ‘liberated’ and ‘unlimited’ faster while words that relate to feelings of being trapped like ‘Restricted’ were used for the room with lower ceiling.
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Image 18.104.22.168 Quaid overlooking New Asia, where the film first introduced New Asia to the audience. The city shows off the multiple tiers of the city. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 22.214.171.124(Top Left) Roof Top of KowLoon CIty. (Girard and Lambot, 1993, pg198) Image 126.96.36.199 (Top Right) View of KowLoon City from the exterior. (Girard and Lambot, 1993, pg14-15) Image 188.8.131.52 (Right) Occupants of KowLoon retrieving water from pipe situated beside huge group of wires on the wall , noting the vandalism on the wall. (Girard and Lambot, 1993, pg39) Image 184.108.40.206 (Bottom left) The exterior of KowLoon at night, covered in signboards indicating shops. (Girard and Lambot, 1993, pg179) Image 220.127.116.11 (Bottom right) Children playing on rooftop, surrounded by wires and antenna. (Girard and Lambot, 1993, pg207)
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3.2.2 | DYSTOPIA - NEW ASIA With the huge influx of residents, terrain has become a very valuable resource. Hence, there is a sense of verticality to the cities, emphasizing the idea of condensed space. (Keyes, 2012) The arrangements of the residential areas in New Asia appear to be messy and disorganized. Buildings were built very close to each other, and very densely populated, New Asia consist of layer upon layers of urban structure (Keyes,2012), each structure stacked on top of one another. In New Asia, while utilizing the same technology that UFB has, the overhanging buildings can only be seen in the lower regions of the city, indicating means to extend further vertically were an indulgent.
One significant contrast between New Asia and UFB is the luminosity of the city. The city of New Asia (Image 18.104.22.168) seems to be the complete opposite of UFB, constantly covered in a dark blanket, illuminated only by neon signboards, street lights and lanterns, similar to densely populated cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo. The set of New Asia is fashioned with red and yellow tones, evoking a certain indication of dishonesty and illness that embraces the city, which gives a sense that it is tainted and unclean.
Comparing the two worlds, New Asia appears to be the more worn-down, grungier world. According to Total Recallâ€™s production designer Patric Tatopoulos, New Asia is based loosely on Kow Loon Wall City (Image 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199), the most densely populated area in the real world for at least four decades, making it an excellent precedent for the heavily dense world. In an area that is crammed with around 500 unplanned interconnected high rise buildings , Kow Loon was a self-sustainable phenomenon, with 33,000 families and businesses living within its two hectars of land without a government, and without proper basic amenities such as water, electricity and garbage disposal facilities. (Lam, 2016) (Image 188.8.131.52) People moved to the city out of bankruptcy, to flee or exploit the lack of law. Kow Loon City was notorious for its drugs and crime but despite the crime, the citizens claimed to have been living peacefully in the city.
Kow Loon was a hastily put together mixture of tiny apartments, one on top of another, with caged balconies slapped onto the sides to accommodate for the rising population. In between the blocks, a dark and damp maze of passageway connected the blocks together. Constantly dripping water leaked everywhere and dirty corridors filled the city. The city was lacking any formal architectural or engineering intervention, using materials of questionable quality with an absence of building planning. They latched on to any available space, claiming it to be theirs and built it as their PAGE | 37
Image 184.108.40.206 Close up facade of KowLoon City (Girard and Lambot,1993, pg 157)
Image 220.127.116.11 New Asia landscape cantileverevd housing blocks stretching out across the city. Tiers of structures from ground in New Asia, with the blocks of houses, very similar to KowLoon City’s exterior in figure 18.104.22.168. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 22.214.171.124 The streets in New Asia, showing the crowded streets and the floating market similar to Bangkok’s. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 126.96.36.199 Floating market in Bangkok. (Expique, n.d.)
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own. Windows were ignored and walled over, floors cantilevered over alleyways, lower buildings were not always demolished, but more stories were simply added to them. It was so crowded that the only place for fresh air and an escape from the windowless, claustrophobic flats was the roof top, and it became the city’s public realm —though it was crowded with antennas and wires. (Owen, 2012) (Image 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206) Kow Loon has been very highly featured in many Hong Kong Movies and series, due to the extraordinary living conditions and the infamous crimes. It was in the end demolished in the late 1990s, after the government spent billions in compensation to the home owners who were reluctant to leave. (Owen, 2012)
Space in New Asia was precious. Every inch of space is being utilized, from restaurants to storage areas. In Image (Image 220.127.116.11), the houses were packed together wall to wall. Public spaces for the community are barely visible, as people in New Asia fought for space to live, similar to the Kow Loon City. (Image 18.104.22.168) The streets were crowded in New Asia, with the people on top of each other. It is constantly raining, and the city sits on water. People were also utilizing the sewage/river area to conduct their business (Image 22.214.171.124), similar to Floating Markets in Bangkok. (Image 126.96.36.199) Prostitutes sold themselves on the street. The streets were similar to streets in HongKong or in China towns around the world, where they are almost always illuminated by a vast number neon signs. The streets were blocked by advertisements at every meter, interrupting the flow of the traffic, force feeding products and services onto passer-by’s. On upper floors, the railings were bent and broken without anybody bothering to fixing it. The city is also barren from trees, leaving the people living in a concrete jungle.
Similarities between Kow Loon City and New Asia are distinct. Due to the occupant’s personalized touch on their homes, the separation of units could be seen from the exterior facade. They each renovated their space to fit their needs, some with balcony and othersextending their room to widen their space. Similar behaviour could be seen from the facade in New Asia, where the occupant completely took over their own unit and personalize it to their own requirement without taking into consideration their neighbours and the houses surrounding them. Hence, balconies of different sizes could be seen jutting out from building towards the opposing structure, and wires and piping cluttering the sides of the building and stretched from one building from the other without proper arrangement or consideration to the aesthetics of the surrounding context.
The citizens of New Asia had to fight to ‘own’ their own private spaces, building on top of the other and having to deal with extreme overcrowding with limited resources and funds. Therefore, it can PAGE | 39
Image 188.8.131.52 Multiple tiers of New Asia, similar to the KowLoon City Roof top in image 184.108.40.206. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 220.127.116.11 Exterior of Quaidâ€™s unit in New Asia, the building bare of decoration. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 18.104.22.168 Interior of the building, bare with decoration. (Wiseman, 2012)
Image 22.214.171.124 Occupants using only basic materials, like plastic tarps and metal rods to fashion a temporary roof. (Wiseman, 2012)
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Image 126.96.36.199 The corridor in the city of New Asia. On the bottom left, neglected bent railing could be seen. (Wiseman, 2012)
be seen in the filmâ€™s portrayal of this city that New Asia occupants survives with basic necessities from day to day, mostly focusing on their functions rather than form, very similar to the residents of KowLoon City. Buildings were focused on practicality and functionality, while aesthetics were neglected, bare and unfurnished. (Image 188.8.131.52)Minimum effort was placed on the cosmetic treatment of the building. (Image 184.108.40.206) There were no finishing touches done to exterior of the home, keeping the facade simple and rustic. The interior of the home were also kept simple and un-ornamented, only decorated with basic necessities, enough to feel homely. In Image 220.127.116.11, basic materials were used to fix the home. Metal poles and plastic tarps has been fashioned into a temporary roof, keeping the rain from leaking into their house.
Though the context was starkly different from Thor Trilogy, through both the different films, the basic characteristics of what utopia and dystopia architecture is quite similar: clean and flawless, tall majestic buildings and lush greenery in utopia; crowded streets, neglected buildings and the lack of greenery in dystopia.
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Image 18.104.22.168 Ring like space station, Elysium (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 22.214.171.124 Elysium cityscape, filled with lush greenery. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 126.96.36.199 Pool by the mansion overlooking the suburban (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 188.8.131.52 The medbay in Elysium. (Blompkamp 2013)
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3.3 | ELYSIUM 3.3.1 | UTOPIA - ELYSIUM In the story told in this film, humanity has been divided into two classes: the ultra rich, who live on a luxurious space station called Elysium, and the rest of the world, who struggle to survive down on earth. Earth has become a dumpster and an exhausted wasteland, a heavily polluted, overpopulated mess with disease running rampant through the dilapidated slums which most cities have become. While the earth is dying, the rich have since moved to the Elysium space station that orbits the earth (Image 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11)). It is a ring-like station, with vast greenery and unpolluted environment, and holds all the resources required to keep them living comfortably and prosperously. With the invention of a machine that cures all —Med-bay— (Image 18.104.22.168)there is no sickness in Elysium. People on earth pay to be smuggled onto Elysium to be cured from their terminal illnesses and injuries.
Max, an ex-con factory worker suffers from severe radiation poisoning, and is advised that he has only 5 days left to live. The only way that he could cure himself is with the Med-bay, which is in Elysium. In order to save himself, Max accepted a mission from a known human smuggler, Spider to steal financial information from Elysium’s defense contractor, Carlyle by ‘downloading’ the information from Carlyle’s neural implant into Max’s. After managing to retrieve the information from Carlyle’s dying body, they realize that it could be used to bring equality to all by making every citizen on Earth a citizen on Elysium and in turn receive treatment from the MedBays available in Elysium. Max and Spider then stole a ship and raced towards Elysium, hoping to run the program to save the Earth’s people. The storyline takes the viewer on a ridealong of the journey from the slums of 2154 Los Angeles to the gleaming beauty of Elysium, giving the audience a good look at the distinct difference between the two worlds.
Similar to Total Recall and Altered Carbon, the two worlds in each film were separated by a vast distance. In Elysium, they were split by vacuum space, where the richer the society is, the higher their building is located. Regarding the space station itself, according to the director, Elysium is designed based on a design proposed by NASA in 1975, called the Stanford Torus.(Yarm, 2013) Scientists imagined a mile-long, ring-shaped ring that would rotate once a minute, creating artificial gravity on the inside of the ring. Elysium is essentially a mix of space station and Beverly Hills suburban. As director Neill Blomkamp said, “It’s all about ‘Rich people with swimming pools,’” PAGE | 43
Image 22.214.171.124 Elysium Government office building, surrounding with greenery (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 126.96.36.199 Interior of government building. Lines were used to make the room appear more futuristic. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 188.8.131.52 growing in the server room (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 184.108.40.206 Greenery in the balcony of the Government Building (Blompkamp 2013)
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Blomkamp intentionally kept the Elysium environment simple(Image 220.127.116.11), noting that he had to constantly monitor himself to make decisions that would reinforce the metaphor. (Hart, 2013) Elysium, undertook a design that is the complete opposite of UFB in Total Recall and Thor, where the city expands horizontally rather than vertically.
In the space station, the cityscape imitates suburbia in North America, Blomkamp described Elysium to be the â€˜Bel-Airâ€™ of Space, when he was interviewed i09. (2013) The orbital utopia is filmed in Vancouver with a vision of suburban Beverly Hill-esque concept, the gated community is decorated with greenery, extensive parks and lakes. Elysium portrayed the typical suburban housing plans in America, with gleaming mansions surrounded by lawns and greenery. Like suburbia now-a-days, the design gave off an air of wealth and privilege to the area. Public areas assigned clearly among the gated community area with river running along the station, allowing ample of space for the residents.
In this particular film, the interior of the buildings were given a lot of thought too. To give a specific aura of exclusivity to Elysium, the designers explored the modern contemporary styles, playing with lines and geometrical shapes. Lines usually avert the attention of the room to the centre point. (18.104.22.168)
In the offices, the materials used consists of reflective materials with smooth textures, where it achieved a futuristic appearance. (Imae 22.214.171.124) Similar to colours, materials affect the way a room presents itself. While rough surfaces give weight to the room and draws attention to itself, while smooth surface lightens the room while giving the impression of a lighter construction material. (Mastroeni, 2015) The set design appears a lot more high tech, using materials that gave the room a sleek futuristic modern feeling. The most distinctive elements of interiors are lines, such as walls and furniture focused on defined lines and geometrica shapes. It connotes a sense of movement and transformation, helping to create shapes and planes, giving more depth and emphasis into the building. (Blackburn, 2012) Similar to the exterior, nearly every room in the interior were decorated with green wall and overhanging plants, may be the designers way of expressing the clean and unpolluted surrounding of the Elysium. (Image 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52) l
In the court room where the Defense Secretary, Delacourt, was being judged for her actions is quite similar to the present day court room, where the prosecutor sits on an elevated platform. (Image 184.108.40.206) While reprimanding Delacourt for her immoral actions, the council of Elysium sits on a row PAGE | 45
Image 220.127.116.11 Plants could be seen in the interior of operation room; plants could be seen hanging from the edge of the ceiling. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 18.104.22.168 Interrogation room, where the judging panel elevates from the critisized, giving them the sense of authority. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 22.214.171.124 House in suburban area, similar to Beverly Hill-esque (Blompkamp 2013)
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of podium, giving them the prominence over the one being judged, similar to the throne room in Asgard.
The mansions in Elysium are distinctly different from the governance building, however. It reflects the modern houses of current Beverly Hills suburbia housings. The houses are similar to the abundant luxurious mansions in suburban areas. With open windows, and huge balcony, coupled with the mansions were vast open lands and flawless green landscape designs, the designers chose houses that screamed wealth. (126.96.36.199)
The set used in Elysium filled with black, green, blue and white tones. The colours were sharp and distinct, not only drawing the audienceâ€™s attention into the screen, but also to indicate the stability and flawlessness of the society.
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Image 188.8.131.52 Abandoned city on Earth. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 184.108.40.206 Angeles in 2158. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 220.127.116.11 Los Angeles City in 2158, similar to the slums from image 18.104.22.168 (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 22.214.171.124 Birdâ€™s eye view of a slum in Mexico City - La Malinche (Miller, 2016)
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3.3.2 | DYSTOPIA - 2158 LOS ANGELES Down below on the tired, ravaged Earth of the film Elysium is set in Los Angeles, in the year 2154. Blomkamp mentioned in an interview that he crafted a scenario of a worst case extrapolation of contemporary health care, immigration and economic distress. ‘Los Angeles’ was designed similarly to slums. Blomkamp envisioned the despoiled Earth to be similar to an abominable slum. (Image 126.96.36.199) “2154 overpopulated Earth is a place swirled with dust and consist partly of ‘dehydrated sewage’.” (Yarm, 2013). He was very adamant on authenticity and having a set that was as run down as possible; hence the set on Earth were filmed in the largest landfill sites in Mexico City - Bordo Poniente.
Bordo Poniente was one of the world’s largest open air land fills, with two and a half thousand people living in that community, surviving on scavenging reusable materials on the site. (BBC, 2011) Overpopulated 2154 Los Angeles also shares similar trade with slums across the world in this day and age, similar to the one in Mexico City(Image 188.8.131.52). The buildings were low, and spread out. The director presents the future city well, with the intention that he had envisioned. The city in the film gave away a feeling of a dying world that is occupied mainly by the poor and sick. Similar to the previous dystopia discussed -Sakaar, more so in this film, the most obvious difference between the two cities were the presence of vegetation. While Elysium seemed to include green spaces in nearly every room and open space, Los Angeles were in a world barren from it, allowing the designers to emphasise on the over polluted condition and near demise of the city.
In the city of Los Angeles in 2154, there is a lack of proper streets, replaced with sand filled dirt road. Rubbish and trash were seen piling up on the sides of the road, where children were scavenging for scraps. In main streets, (Image 184.108.40.206) The people sets up temporary sheds for their daily business, selling food and live stocks.
Buildings were built close to each other (Image 220.127.116.11). One some streets, the walls were tagged full of graffiti. Due to the tight space, citizens used roof tops to engage in daily entertainment, such as barbeque parties (Image 18.104.22.168). The structures in Los Angeles were basic concrete structure, plain and unmaintained (Image 22.214.171.124). There were no balconies or ornamentation to be seen on the exterior of the structures, serving as a basic necessity to provide shelter to the user. The interior of the buildings were scarce, messy and covered with graffiti. (Image 126.96.36.199) Rooms with low ceilings were used and messy wires running through wall, ceilings and floor, left exposed, with temporary furniture PAGE | 49
Image 188.8.131.52 Houses in Los Angeles City, Similar to the slums in Mexico City. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 184.108.40.206 Streets of Los Angeles, filled with dirt and sand, overlooking the abandoned city. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 220.127.116.11 Street vendors lining by the streets (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 18.104.22.168 Interior of a building in Los Angeles (Blompkamp 2013)
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that filled the buildings. (Image 22.214.171.124)
The set was decorated with grey and brown tone, and the colours seem to melt into each other, as if the scene were out of focus. That colour strategy created more disarray to the scene, amplifying the chaotic condition of 2158 earth. (Image 126.96.36.199)
One clear contrast of different social class could be seen in Johhny Millerâ€™s aerial photographs of Mexico city (Image 188.8.131.52), where there is a clear distinction of both classes when it is built right next to a run down neighbourhood (Image 184.108.40.206). The director wanted a clear discrepancy in the film between rich and poor, as how he understands and defines it. Blompkamp wanted to emphasis about the wealth inequality in the film, which he portrayed it heavily and successfully in the film.
Elysium too, follows the trend from the past two films discussed in this dissertation. This film used a typical housing environment from two extreme social classes as precedence and amplified it into two worlds, similar to Total Recall and Thor. Though they were interpreted using different precedence and strategy, the interpretation of both utopia and dystopia were very similar.
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Image 220.127.116.11 Houses in Los Angeles City, Similar to the slums in Mexico City. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 18.104.22.168 Streets of Los Angeles, filled with dirt and sand. Children could be seen salvaging from dumpsters by the road. (Blompkamp 2013)
Image 22.214.171.124 Occupants uses the roof to engage in different entertainment. (Miller, 2016)
Image 126.96.36.199 a house in Elysium. (Blompkamp 2013) of
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Image 188.8.131.52 Slum right by a suburban area. A stark difference could be seen between both sides. (Miller, 2016)
Image 184.108.40.206 Highrise and highway situated right beside a slum in Mexico City (Miller, 2016)
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Image 220.127.116.11 Bay City area Birdâ€™s eye view (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 18.104.22.168 Buildings piercing through the clouds - Arium (Kalogridis 2018)
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3.4 | ALTERED CARBON 3.4.1 | UTOPIA - ARIUM As the film industry progress along, TV series such as Altered Carbon are catching up with the filming standards of the Big screens. As the series began to attract a wider audience, producers and networks poured more and more money into the industry. The frames of TV series no longer focusing on only several angles in a constructed film set, but is breaking out of it’s shell by expanding the frames to a wider context as the budget grows.
Altered Carbon (2018) is a Netflix Sci-fi series based on a 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, set at 300 years into the future, humans had spread out to different corners of the universe. In this series, the story line focuses mainly on Bay City, once called the City of San Francisco (Image 22.214.171.124).
In the year 2384, there is a technology that exists that allows one to extend life indefinitely. Cortical Stack -or stack,is made of a non-terrestrial metal left by an Alien Civilization that is inserted into the base of the neck at age one that records one’s consciousness. It essentially contains the memory and the consciousness of a person and if intact, allows them to be taken out like a memory stick and be plugged it into another body or in the film - “sleeves”. If stack was destroyed, the person is considered dead.
The technology became a method of extending mortality for the rich aristocrats- Meth. There is a back up and cloning service for the wealthy that holds and y updates the client’s memories and consciousness. So if their current stack is destroyed, they will have a backup up and also to stay in their original sleeve indefinitely without having to re-sleeve into another body, allowing them to live indefinitely.
In this series, a Meth, Laurens Bancroft died right before he was due for a stack update. After he had been re-sleeved, he had no memories of the previous two days and his death. Convinced that he was murdered, Bancroft hired an ex-envoy soldier, Kovacs to investigate his murder.
With one of Netflix’s most expensive series (Bradley, 2018) and an enormous budget catered to the show, the production team was able to bring the ambitious fictional world to life, not as a 2 hour film, but a 10 episode series on Netflix. Visual effects supervisor, Everett Burell mentioned that the design PAGE | 55
Image 126.96.36.199 Massive buildings built by the extremely wealthy using alien technology (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 188.8.131.52 Bancroftâ€™s mansion from the flying car (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 184.108.40.206 Exterior of the Bancroftâ€™s mansion from the garden, noting the mirror symmetry of the building (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 220.127.116.11 Symmetrical garden of the mansion with vivid colours. (Kalogridis 2018)
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team had brought in inspiration from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and all the way through to Blade Runner. As the inspiration of the original book, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan was from Blade Runner, the series’s production designer, Carey Meyer admits that part of the goal in designing the visuals was to evoke the original Blade Runner, while also giving it a 25th century San Francisco the look the author envisioned. (Hall, 2018).
In the previous films mentioned in this dissertation, the utopia and dystopia were situated in different areas, where Asgard and Sakaar (Thor) were separated by a universe, UFB and New Asia (Total Recall) were on the opposite side of the planet, The space station and Earth (Elysium) were split apart by space. The utopia and dystopia from Altered Carbon however, were set in the same city.
Due to it being a series, the story brought the viewers to many different walks of life. The production team explained that they divided the city into three levels. “The grounders level’” is the low-rent district, for the poor. It is also where the unsavory roam, brothels, drug dens lined the streets. They then had “the twilight area” which is for the middle class, filled with people looking to go higher. The last and the highest, is the Arium (Image 18.104.22.168), which is where the Meths - Bay City’s wealthiest individuals live. (Wigler, 2018) The city also made use of the alien technology, incorporating it into their building structures. The technology weaves through the city, allowing their building to extend up higher beyond normal structures could.
The rich and their ability to acquire alien technology for themselves, allows them to construct their building high up into the sky, piercing the clouds. They build their spires above the clouds to disconnect themselves from the society(Image 22.214.171.124), detaching themselves from the poor and suffering, minimizing propinquity with the rest of the world. They lived in amber, with their buildings above the clouds, so that they can’t be touched as if the poor does not exist, and as if they were equating themselves to Gods, as they were in a way, immortals too. Bancroft’s building stands 8,000 feet into the air, and as Burell said in the interview, it is symbolic as well as visual, that Bancroft has truly built himself an ivory tower to get away from it all. (Wigler, 2018)
“Our quick and messy lives seem so small to them, they build their homes here so that the clutter of our existance is out of their sight.” Kristin Ortega - one of the characters- explaining Arium to Kovacs in the first episode when the series introduces Arium to the audience.
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Image 126.96.36.199 Interior of hall in Bancroft’s home (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 188.8.131.52 Interior of Bankroft’s study room (Kalogridis 2018)
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This is similar to the situation now-a-days, where the rich is able to possess towering buildings or penthouses in metropolis such as NewYork, ShangHai, or Dubai. Tall buildings are increasingly being regarded as a symbol of luxurious accommodation, be it office, residential or hotels. (Lavery 2015) The higher the houses are, the more expensive it is, as it comes with a view and also with the appeal of it being as far away from the ground as possible, as if they were living in their own island in the sky. (Perry, 2017)
Once again, greenery was use to express paradise in this film, allowing Bancroftâ€™s home to be more pleasant. (Image 184.108.40.206) The production designers played with symmetry in this series too, through Bancroftâ€™s home (Image 220.127.116.11), his Garden (Image 18.104.22.168), hallway in his home (Image 22.214.171.124) and his study room (Image 126.96.36.199). This, again, increases the aesthetic of the utopia by playing with geometry. The set colour in the Utopia are contrasting, vivid and sharp, as per the method used in the previous three films. With vivid colours, it stimulates the mind more while looking more exciting to the eye, while projecting, once more the perception of the stability and power.
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Image 188.8.131.52 Kovacs overlooking the city from ground level (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 184.108.40.206 Dense building in the ground level (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 220.127.116.11 The busy streets in ground level filled with vendors and signboards. (Kalogridis 2018)
Image 18.104.22.168 Dirty wet alley way (Kalogridis 2018)
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3.4.2 | DYSTOPIA | BAY CITY GROUND LEVEL “The grounders level” of Bay City could be described as dark and gritty.The buildings on the ground are very cluttered, and as the buildings get higher, it gets significantly less crowded. (Image 22.214.171.124) As the statistics of social classes, the lower class are usually the one with the highest population. Similar to the real world, according to Fortune (Matthews, 2015)160,000 of the richest family have as much wealth as the poorest 145 million families, resulting in a skewed ratio of population. With the separation of class within the city, the lower class are forced to keep within the ground level of the city, causing the lowest area of the city to be highly dense. Environment psychologist found out that people living at lower levels have feeling of ‘being crushed’ by the weight of the people living above, while people on higher floors may feel superior to their lower level neighbours. (Lavery, 2015) Critic Ada Louise Huxtable (cited in Vaderbilt 2015) said “it is perhaps the most appalling characteristics of the skyscraper is its inhumanity.” The depressing nature of dense skyscrapers with overly condense lower level of the city plays perfectly into the story line. (Image 126.96.36.199)
The lowest part of the city is littered with crowded streets and tight alleys. (Image 188.8.131.52) The dull lit streets, packed cluttered crowds, walking shoulder to shoulder in tight alleys, with supplier pushing supply carts ad vendors pushing their worn out carts weaving through crowds. There are also street vendors conducting their businesses on the sides of the street, next to brothels operating nearby. (Image 184.108.40.206) The city streets bear similarities to Hong Kong’s, neon signage of shops hung high, hoping to attract customers, and advertisement boards protruding out of buildings force feeding passer-by’s with product information. Wires are hung low above the streets, criss-crossing from one building to the next, maintenance works in the corner, steam pouring out from grates on sidewalks and lights beamed down from overhead simulating passing hover traffic (Phalin, 2018) reminds the audience of a seedy alley of a red light district in their own city.
The lack of vegetation repeats itself in this series, following the flow of the past few films to invoke an unfriendly atmosphere, allowing the audience to feel unwelcomed. The series also brings the audience to a slum built with used shipping container. (220.127.116.11) The site resembles an abandoned shipping yard that the occupants took over and made their home, a slum in another form. The people who have nowhere to go settle in the shipping yard and make do with what they have. Graffiti, again, fills the container walls (Image 18.104.22.168), the streets were narrow and neglected. The interior of the structure (Image 22.214.171.124) repeats itself in this series, with low ceiling, unkempt and temporary furniture and wire running across the room, left exposed. PAGE | 61
Image 126.96.36.199 Back alley in Bay City (Kalogridis 2018) Image 188.8.131.52 Slum area Kovacs visited that consisted of shipping containers with rubbish littered on both sides of the road. (Kalogridis 2018)
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Image 184.108.40.206 Unmaintained buildings and walls tagged with graffiti (Kalogridis 2018) Image 220.127.116.11 Interior of buildings in the slum, with low ceiling and temporary furnitures (Kalogridis 2018)
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4.0 | DISCUSSION
In the case study, the dissertation has been analyzed the worlds in film by categorizing them in to Utopia and Dystopia. This chapter aims to compare between films, recognizing the similarities between each world. Putting together both society of all four films, the basic structure of the cities are quite similar. And in comparison to Metropolis since 1927 and Blade Runner(1982), the trend and definition of future utopian and dystopian cities have been similar.
There are four main factors used to identify the characteristics of each society. It consist of utilization of colour, the play on symmetry and geometry, the use of spaces and volume, organization of spaces and the exploration of maintenance, materials and finishing.
In the case study, the dissertation has been analyzed the worlds in film by categorizing them in to utopia and dystopia. This chapter aims to compare between films, recognizing the similarities between each world. Putting together both society of all four films, the basic structure of the cities are quite similar. And in comparison to Metropolis since 1927 and Blade Runner(1982), the trend of future utopian and dystopian cities have been similar.
There are four main factors used to identify the characteristics of each society. It consist of utilization of colour, the play on symmetry and geometry, the use of spaces and volume, organization of spaces and the exploration of maintenance, materials and finishing.
The colours used for utopias in the four films are almost always the same, which were black, blue and white, as per image 4.1. In Thor, though the buildings were golden toned, elements in the scene such as the use of space ship or the blue of the ocean were used to set the language of the frame. Contrasting colours were also use to creating sharp scenes, pulling in focus from the audience. It also projects a sense of stability and presents a flawless society.
In contrast, referring to the colour chart taken from the scenes of the film (Image 4.2)could be seen to be quite similar to each other, the colours used in the dystopias varies, but the colours usedalways seem to appear faded and discoloured, giving off a sense of a broken down society. In Thor,
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Image 4.1 Colours in four utopian fims: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
Figure 4.2 Colour Scheme in utopias: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
the designers created chaotic scenes by overpowering the set with multiple sharp colours on the building, giving the audience a disorganized vibe.
Symmetry and geometry is an important element used while designing the sets of Utopia. Humans eye tend to be more attracted to symmetrical objects, and the technique is the rule of thumb when it comes to designing something pleasing to the eye. All four of the films made use of this approach in Image 4.3, especially the application of mirror symmetry. It is the easiest and the most obvious technique. As seen in Image 4.4, the scenes or structures in the dystopias are almost always asymmetrical. The intention is to create as much unsettling and chaotic scenes as possible.
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Image 4.2 Chaotic colours in dystopian films: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
Figure 4.2 Colour Scheme in dystopias: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
Image 4.3 Play of symmetry in Utopia: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
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Image 4.4 Asymmetrical architecture in dystopia: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
Image 4.5 Tall majestics structures in Utopia: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
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In the utopian world, the structures are mostly enormous and towering. Asgard in Thor, the city of UFB in Total Recall and the buildings in Alternate Carbon both utilizes the volume of the structure well, creating cities that appear stable and compelling. The designers also created the throne room for Asgard, which was huge and wide for the purpose of the hall. In Elysium the play on volume and spaces were used in a different way. Most of the scenes in Elysium happened indoors, hence the designers applied it into the interior of the buildings. The ceiling height are predominantly higher than normal. Double(or more) height volume interiors helped elevate the room, also create a feeling of power and authority. In Total Recall, the public spaces [image] were wide and airy, giving off a sense of freedom as the pathways and parks were without obstruction above the head.
Image 4.6 Chaotic and desnse architecture in dystopia: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
In dystopia, the cities are always designed to be dense and heavy. When higher buildings were incorporated into the city, [alternate carbon, total recall], it is always dark and heavy causing the feeling of the buildings looming over the city. On street view, the passageways are always tight and narrow. The streets are always crowded with passerby walking up and down the alley, the side of the road packed with street vendors, making the audience feel crushed and pressured. The floors are frequently wet with steam escaping from the ground, littered with rubbish and waste. They are generally messy, dirty and grubby. The streets are commonly obstructed by advertisements in Total Recall, adding on the constant mass of passerby causes the street to feel more crowded that it was. The dystopian cities always resemble slums in South America such as Mexico City or Asian markets such China town, Hong Kong streets, Bangkokâ€™s floating markets. PAGE | 69
Image 4.7 Interior of utopia: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
Image 4.8 Greenery in Utopia: Asgard (Top Left), UFB (Top Right), Elysium (Bottom Left), Arium (Bottom Right)
As the images shown in Image 4.7, a city from a utopian world presents itself to be well organized. The streets are neat, orderly and free from dirt and rubbish, while everything is kept in a tip top condition. The interiors are also free from the mess of wires or any other building services left exposed on the wall, and the surfaces are always kept finished and smooth.
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Some of the interiors, such as the halls and study room of Bancroftâ€™s home in Altered Carbon are intricately decorated and ornamented. Elysiumâ€™s offices were covered with reflective and smooth materials, with sharp lines looking futuristic and crisp. There is also uniformity to the designs for the buildings and structures that create a stable and consistent world. Not only that, in all the films (image 4.8), the utopias were dotted with vegetation and luxurious greenery, adding colour and positive aura to the paradise.
Image 4.9 Interiors of dystopia: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
Image 4.10 Lack of vegetation in dystopia: Sakaar (Top Left), New Asia (Top Right), Los Angeles 2158 (Bottom Left), Bay City Ground Level(Bottom Right)
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In public spaces of dystopia (Image 4.9), the buildings are filled with graffiti or covered with posters, no matter if it is on earth or on an alien civilization. The public street oftenimitates Hong Kong streets, neon signs of shops, along with intrusive advertisement inserting itself in the middle of the path or on a humongous notice board on buildings nearby, inescapable from view. Things were left broken on the streets [image] without any intention of being fixed. The living areas of dystopia world are in often cases are bare from decorations and ornamentation. Some being held together by temporary materials, fasten together to make things work. The interior of the home are mostly similar to one another, signifying that the buildings are mass produced and with no room nor funds to personalize. The world is also left parched from the growth of vegetation, (Image 4.10)
Sharp Distinct Crisp Clear separation of colour Usually White, blue and black
Utilization of Colour
Using monotonous colours Faded Chaotic Colours jumbled together Usually brown and grey
Mostly symmetrical Mirror symmetry
Plan on Symmetry and geometry
Use of Space and Volume
Crowded tall buildings Tight streets Crowded alleys Low ceiling
Huge and tall buildings Wide streets Wide pedestrian streets High ceiling Smooth finishing Distinct lines Ornaments and decoration Well maintained, untainted Luxurious vegetation
Exploration of maintenance, materials and finishing
Figure 4.3 Sumary of characteristic of Utopia and Dystopia
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Walls left bare Under-maintained services Use of temporary materials Exposed building services, I.e. wires Graffiti and poster filled surfaces Barren world without greenery
5.0 | CONCLUSION
This dissertation has explored the characteristics of utopian and dystopian architecture to provide a discussion about the similarities of application of architectural features across four films.
It is apparent that production design is one of the key elements to the success of a film. Production Designers have the responsibility for creating the visual aspects of a film and television, materializing the script they were given to life. They have the ability to coax the audience into believing the plot and the timeline through the backgrounds of the film. The creativity and the imagination of the designers bring the characters and the film set to life. Production designers predict a possible distant future according to the script. This dissertation concludes that most set designer have common trope on their utopia and dystopia vision.
Colours plays an important role in the design, as it not only defines the scene, but also determines the mood of the film. Symmetry and geometry of the design determine the aesthetic of the buildings. Composition and mood of the room can be affected by the space and volume used, but also the with the use of different materials and finishing.
The main target of the designs was to allow for the audience to experience the city by creating as much positive elements as possible in Utopia, and to create as much chaos to instil pressure and tension in dystopia. There were certainly different designs throughout different films, but the basic template of for the utopia and dystopia worlds remains the same.
Each film portraying their version of utopia and dystopia is has a tendency to duplicate itself across different films and has been repeating for at least the past 20 years. Constantly drenched rained on gloomy dystopia with barely lit muddy crowded alley ways, street vendors crammed in street corners and rubbish filled streets have been used as a template in too many films. Tall intimidating building, ornamented high ceilings with huge inviting windows and wide, brightly lit spaces version of utopia is becoming un-stimulating.
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It has become generic and the design output has become stagnant. Though the designers adorn the scenes with a newer version of flying cars and extravagant building exterior, at the end of the day, the fundamental theme of the utopia and dystopia remains, essentially eerily similar to the films before them.
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6.0 | LIST OF FIGURES PAGE Figure 18.104.22.168 Sketches of symmetry of the Bifrost
Figure 22.214.171.124 Sketches of symmetry of Rainbow Bridge to Asgard Hall. Figure 4.1 Colour scheme of Utopias
Figure 4.2 Colour Scheme in Dystopias:
Figure 4.3 Sumary of characteristic of Utopia and Dystopia
Image 2.2.1 The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man by Peter Paul Ruben and Jan Brueghel the Elder
Image 2.2.2 The sectional view of the Metropolis
Image 2.3.1 Metropolis
Image 2.3.2 Blade Runner city
Image 126.96.36.199 Asgard symmetrical panaromic view.
Image 188.8.131.52 Interior of Bifrost room. Image 184.108.40.206 Double Height of the Bifrost room. Image 220.127.116.11 Metalic hue of Asgard Throne Hall. Image 18.104.22.168 Rainbow bridge leading from the Bifrost to Throne Hall.
Image 22.214.171.124 Biforst, a perfectly symmetrical example. Image 126.96.36.199 Throne sits on a pedestal, giving the person sitting on the throne a sense of authority.
Image188.8.131.52 Huge throne room with high ceiling. Image184.108.40.206 Sagrada Familia towering over Barcelona city scape Image 220.127.116.11 Throne Hall towering over the whole of Asgard. Image 18.104.22.168 Public spaces in Asgard
Image 22.214.171.124 Cityscape of Asgard, showing not only the huge buildings but the lush landscape of Asgard. Image 126.96.36.199 Cityscape of Asgard, showing off tall majestic buildings .
Image 188.8.131.52 Buildings in Asgard towering over wide pedestrain pathways. Image 184.108.40.206 Wormhole that spits out waste into the junkyard.
Image 220.127.116.11 Thor overlooking the city of Sakaar from a distance. Image 18.104.22.168 Birds eye view of Sakaar. The mismatch of colours and the chaotic nature of the city from a distance.
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CASE STUDIES Image 22.214.171.124 City of Sakaar rising from the junkyard. Image 126.96.36.199 Buildings with miss match colour causing the scene to be chaotic.
Image 188.8.131.52 Outskirts of Sakaar, filled with waste. The city could be seen rising from the junkyard, slowly getting more condense towards the middle of the city. Image 184.108.40.206 Sakaar’s lower region of the city crowded with structures. Image 220.127.116.11 Alleyway in Sakaar, with oddly shaped structures and wires hanging from the wall. Image 18.104.22.168 Crowded streets with overhanging wires, mixture of colours.
Image 22.214.171.124 The buildings consist of mismatch shape and colour. City streets crowded with people , on the left there were vendors doing their daily business. Image 126.96.36.199 Alleyway of Sakaar littered with rubbish.
Image 188.8.131.52 United Federation of Britain cityscape, with the Fall situated in the middle of the city.
Image 184.108.40.206 Highway that stretches across the city. Image 220.127.116.11 Interior of “the Fall” re the workers travel to and fro from UFB and New Asia. Image 18.104.22.168 Tiers of huge buildings stretches across the top of the highway in UFB. Image 22.214.171.124 The cityscapes of buildings showing humongous buildings and the different tiers of the city.
Image 126.96.36.199 Open air public spaces below a highway in the city, overlooking the city below. Image 188.8.131.52 Suspended wide pedestrian walkways around the city, with clean streets. Image 184.108.40.206 Vegetation around the city in UFB. Image 220.127.116.11 Greenscape in public spaces around UFB
Image 18.104.22.168 Interior of building with high ceilings and smooth white finishes. Image 22.214.171.124 Interior of blue, black and white hue, creating a uniform look throughout the city. Image 126.96.36.199 The Fall entryway from New Asia. Image 188.8.131.52 Quaid overlooking New Asia, where the film first introduced New Asia to the audience. The city shows off the multiple tiers of the city.
Image 184.108.40.206(Top Left) Roof Top of KowLoon CIty. Image 220.127.116.11 (Top Right) View of KowLoon City from the exterior. Image 18.104.22.168 (Right) Occupants of KowLoon retrieving water from pipe situated beside huge group of wires on the wall , noting the vandalism on the wall. Image 22.214.171.124 (Bottom left) The exterior of KowLoon at night, covered in signboards indicating shops. Image 126.96.36.199 (Bottom right) Children playing on rooftop, surrounded by wires and antenna. Image 188.8.131.52 Close up facade of KowLoon City Image 184.108.40.206 New Asia landscape - cantileverevd housing blocks stretching out across the city. Tiers of structures from ground in New Asia, with the blocks of houses, very similar to KowLoon City’s exterior in image 220.127.116.11. 76 | PAGE
Image 18.104.22.168 The streets in New Asia, showing the crowded streets and the floating market similar to Bangkok’s. Image 22.214.171.124 Floating market in Bangkok. Image 126.96.36.199 Multiple tiers of New Asia, similar to the KowLoon City Roof top in image 188.8.131.52.
Image 184.108.40.206 Exterior of Quaid’s unit in New Asia, the building bare of decoration. Image 220.127.116.11 Interior of the building, bare with decoration. Image 18.104.22.168 Occupants using only basic materials, like plastic tarps and metal rods to fashion a temporary roof. Image 22.214.171.124 The corridor in New Asia. On the bottom left, neglected bent railing could be seen.
Image 126.96.36.199 Ring like space station, Elysium.
Image 188.8.131.52 Elysium Cityscape, filled with lush greenery. Image 184.108.40.206 Pool by the mansion overlooking the suburban Image 220.127.116.11 The medbay in Elysium. Image 18.104.22.168 Elysium Government office building, surrounding with greenery
Image 22.214.171.124 Interior of government building. Lines were used to make the room appear more futuristic. Image 126.96.36.199 Plants growing in the server room Image 188.8.131.52 Greenery in the balcony of the Government Building Image 184.108.40.206 Plants could be seen in the interior of operation room; plants could be seen hanging from the edge of the ceiling.
Image 220.127.116.11 Interrogation room, where the judging panel elevates from the criticized, giving them the sense of authority. Image 18.104.22.168 House in suburban area, similar to Beverly Hill-esque. Image 22.214.171.124 Abandoned city on Earth.
Image 126.96.36.199 Los Angeles in 2158. Image 188.8.131.52 Los Angeles City in 2158, similar to the slums from image 184.108.40.206. Image 220.127.116.11 Bird’s eye view of a slum in Mexico City - La Malinche Image 18.104.22.168 Houses in Los Angeles City, Similar to the slums in Mexico City
Image 22.214.171.124 Streets of Los Angeles, filled with dirt and sand, overlooking the abandoned city. Image 126.96.36.199 Street vendors lining by the streets Image 188.8.131.52 Interior of a building in Los Angeles Image 184.108.40.206 Houses in Los Angeles City, Similar to the slums in Mexico City.
Image 220.127.116.11 Streets of Los Angeles, filled with dirt and sand. Children could be seen salvaging from dumpsters by the road.
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CASE STUDIES Image 18.104.22.168 Occupants uses the roof to engage in different entertainment. Image 22.214.171.124 Interior of a house in Elysium. Image 126.96.36.199 Slum right by a suburban area. A stark difference could be seen between both sides.
Image 188.8.131.52 Highrise and highway situated right beside a slum in Mexico City Image 184.108.40.206 Bay City area Bird’s eye view
Image 220.127.116.11 Buildings piercing through the clouds - Arium Image 18.104.22.168 Massive buildings built by the extremely wealthy using alien technology
Image 22.214.171.124 Bancroft’s Mansion from the flying car Image 126.96.36.199 Exterior of the Bancroft’s mansion from the garden, noting the mirror symmetry of the building Image 188.8.131.52 Symmetrical garden of the mansion with vivid colours. Image 184.108.40.206 Interior of hall in Bancroft’s home
Image 220.127.116.11 Interior of Bankroft’s study room Image 18.104.22.168 Kovacs overlooking the city from ground level
Image 22.214.171.124 Dense building in the ground level Image 126.96.36.199 The busy streets in ground level filled with vendors and signboards. Image 188.8.131.52 Dirty wet alley way Image 184.108.40.206 Back alley in Bay City
Image 220.127.116.11 Slum area Kovacs visited that consisted of shipping containers with rubbish littered on both sides of the road. Image 18.104.22.168 Unmaintained buildings and walls tagged with graffiti.
Image 22.214.171.124 Interior of buildings in the slum, with low ceiling and temporary furnitures Image 4.1 Colours in four utopian fims
Image 4.2 Chaotic colours in dystopian films
Image 4.3 Play of symmetry in Utopia Image 4.4 Asymmetrical architecture in dystopia
Image 4.5 Tall majestics structures in Utopia Image 4.6 Chaotic and desnse architecture in dystopia
Image 4.7 Interior of utopia
Image 4.8 Greenery in Utopia Image 4.9 Interiors of dystopia Image 4.10 Lack of vegetation in dystopia
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7.0 | BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Albrecht, D. (1986) Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies. 1st ed. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, pg153-166 Heisner, B. (2011) Hollywood art:Art direction in the days of the great studio. McFrland&Company, Inc. North Carolina. Tashiro, C.S. (1998) Pretty Pictures: Production Design and the History Film. 1st ed. University of Texas Press , Austin, Texas. Esperdy, G. (2007) ‘From Instruction to Consumption: Architecture and Design in Hollywood Movies of the the 1930s.’ The Journal of American Culture, 30(2) pp. 198–211. Mirrlees, T. (2015) ‘Hollywood’s Uncritical Dystopias.’ Cineaction; Toronto, Ont., (95) pp. 4–15.
ONLINE 7 Reasons Why High-Rises Kill Livability | Smart Cities Dive (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 4th April 2018] https:// www.smartcitiesdive.com/ex/sustainablecitiescollective/7-reasons-why-high-rises-kill-livability/561536/. Altered Carbon (novel) | Altered Carbon Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 2nd April 2018] http://altered-carbon.wikia.com/wiki/Altered_Carbon_(novel). Anders, C. J. (n.d.) Designing Elysium: All The Secrets of Neill Blomkamp’s Stark Future. io9. [Online] [Accessed on 10th March 2018] https://io9.gizmodo.com/designing-elysium-all-the-secrets-of-neill-blomkamps-1069787673. Anders, C. J. (n.d.) Thor concept art includes a complete map of Asgard. io9. [Online] [Accessed on 16th April 2018] https://io9.gizmodo.com/5804054/thor-concept-art-includes-a-complete-map-of-asgard/. Anderson, J. (2017) ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Production Designer Talks Creating The “Real” Asgard. Marvel. [Online] [Accessed on 16th March 2018] http://comicbook.com/marvel/2017/10/19/thor-ragnarok-asgard-set-designmarvel-visual-effects/ Archinect (2012.) Color in Architecture — More Than Just Decoration. Archinect. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] https://archinect.com/features/article/53292622/color-in-architecture-more-than-justdecoration. ‘Architecture Sagrada Familia’ (2018) Sagrada Família. [Online] [Accessed on 1sh April 2018] http://www. sagradafamilia.org/en/architecture/. Asgard - Marvel Universe Wiki: The definitive online source for Marvel super hero bios. (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 7th March 2018] http://marvel.com/universe/Asgard. Baratto, R. (2017) How Architecture Speaks Through Cinema. ArchDaily. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] https://www.archdaily.com/872754/how-architecture-speaks-through-cinema. BBC News (2011) ‘Mexico closes huge rubbish dump.’ Latin America & Caribbean. [Online] 20th December. [Accessed on 10th April 2018] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-16258472. Collier, G. (2017) Utopia. Psychology Today. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] https://www. psychologytoday.com/blog/the-consciousness-question/201711/utopia. Crosbie, M and Sawruk, T. (2016) Playing the Starring Role of Utopia/Dystopia: Architecture in FIlm [online] [Accessed 15 Jan 2018] www.academia.edu/25728301/Playing_the_Starring_Role_of_Utopia_Dystopia_ Architecture_in_Film PAGE | 79
BIBLIOGRAPHY Davis, B. (2017) ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Set Description: Sakaar Marketplace. Marvel. [Online] [Accessed on 3rd March 2018] http://comicbook.com/marvel/2017/09/05/thor-ragnarok-set-description-sakaar-/. Dickens, D. (2018) Everything You Need To Know About ALTERED CARBON. Nerdist. [Online] [Accessed on 23rd March 2018] https://nerdist.com/altered-carbon-everything-you-need-to-know/. Ellywood, G (2017) Discover The Secrets Behind ‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Production Design . [Online] [Accessed on 5th February 2018] https://theplaylist.net/thor-ragnarok-production-design-20171106/. Elderkin, B. (2018) Altered Carbon’s Costume Designer Talks About Designing Gods and Fetishizing Superheroes. io9. [Online] [Accessed on 22nd April 2018] https://io9.gizmodo.com/altered-carbons-costume-designer-talksabout-designing-1822670864. Benmaurodesign (n.d.). ELYSIUM - Ben Mauro Design [Online] [Accessed on 22nd February 2018] http:// benmaurodesign.com/ELYSIUM. Griffiths, S. (2015) Why do we love high ceilings so much? Mail Online. [Online] [Accessed on 5th April 2018] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2982593/Why-love-high-ceilings-Airy-rooms-stimulate-brainencourage-free-thinking-psychologist-claims.html. Hall, C. (2018) Netflix’s Altered Carbon gave me what Blade Runner 2049 couldn’t. Polygon. [Online] [Accessed on 22nd March 2018] https://www.polygon.com/2018/2/8/16991208/netflix-altered-carbon-blade-runner2049-comparison. Hart, H. (2013) Neill Blomkamp On Designing Dystopia In “Elysium.” Fast Company. [Online] [Accessed on 12 March 2018] https://www.fastcompany.com/1683530/neill-blomkamp-on-designing-dystopia-in-elysium. Heathcote, E. (2013) Architecture: How buildings are used in sci-fi films. Financial Times. [Online] [Accessed on 6th January 2018] https://www.ft.com/content/fff5e7cc-4d50-11e3-a220-00144feabdc0. Hiscock, J. (2013) ‘Neill Blomkamp interview: “Elysium isn’t science fiction. It’s now.”’ Culture. [Online] 19th August. [Accessed on 17 February 2018] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10244979/Neill-Blomkampinterview-Elysium-isnt-science-fiction.-Its-now.html Houston, C. (2017) Good place is no place. TheTLS. [Online] [Accessed on 1st January 2018] https://www.thetls.co.uk/articles/public/utopia-dystopia-twenty-first-century/. Jack Kirby | Lambiek Comiclopedia (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 3rd March 2018] https://www.lambiek.net/ artists/k/kirby.htm. Lepore, J. (2017) ‘A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction.’ The New Yorker. [Online] [Accessed on 10th January 2018] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/05/a-golden-age-for-dystopian-fiction Laie, B.T. (2018) Garden of Eden. Ancient History Encyclopedia. [Online] [Accessed on 12th March 2018] https:// www.ancient.eu/Garden_of_Eden/. Line (n.d.) Learning the Basics - Interior Design. [Online] [Accessed on 3rd March 2018] http://aceinteriordesign. weebly.com/line.html. Lucarelli, f. (2012) About Metropolis. SOCKS. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] http://socks-studio. com/2012/08/15/about-metropolis/. Lavery, M. (2015) ‘Exploring the psychology of tall buildings’ (2015) BuroHappold Engineering. Burohappold Engineering. [Online] [Accessed on 22nd March 2018] https://www.burohappold.com/opinion/exploring-thepsychology-of-tall-buildings/. Mccarthy, E (2013) 7 Things to Know About Elysium (2013). [Online] [Accessed on 8th February 2018] http:// mentalfloss.com/article/52153/7-things-know-about-elysium. Miéville, C. (2016) ‘We are all Thomas More’s children’ – 500 years of Utopia. the Guardian. [Online] [Accessed on 6th February 2018] http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/04/thomas-more-utopia-500-yearschina-mieville-ursula-le-guin. 80 | PAGE
Miller, J. (2016) Unequal Scenes - Mexico City. [Online] [Accessed on 1st April2018] http://unequalscenes.com/ mexico-city-df. Nicholson-Cole, D, (2016) Why we’re obsessed with tall buildings. CNN Style. [Online] [Accessed on 13th March 2018] https://www.cnn.com/style/article/the-conversation-a-short-history-of-tall-buildings/index.html. Nosowitz, D. (2013) Life Inside The Most Densely Populated Place On Earth [Infographic]. Popular Science. [Online] [Accessed on 13th February 2018] https://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-04/life-insidemost-densely-populated-place-earth-infographic. Owen, P. (2012) Kowloon Walled City: A rare insight into one of the most densely populated places on earth which housed 50,000 people. Mail Online. [Online] [Accessed on 17th February 2018] http://www.dailymail. co.uk/news/article-2139914/A-rare-insight-Kowloon-Walled-City.html. Oxford Dictionaries | English.(2018) [Online] [Accessed on 15th January 2018] https://en.oxforddictionaries. com/. Phalin, M. (2018) Netflix Altered Carbon Set Visit Part 2: The Sets. Dread Central. [Online] [Accessed on 28th March 2018] http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/261235/netflix-altered-carbon-set-visit-part-2-sets/. Portilla, D. (2013) Films & Architecture: ‘Inception’. ArchDaily. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] http:// www.archdaily.com/322376/films-architecture-inception/. Puchko, K. (2017) How THOR: RAGNAROK’s Planet Sakaar Matters to the MCU and Honors Jack Kirby. Nerdist. [Online] [Accessed on 28th February 2018] https://nerdist.com/thor-ragnaroks-sakaar-mcu-jack-kirby-jeffgoldblum/. ‘Rethinking Architecture on Film’. Port. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] http://www.port-magazine. com/film/rethinking-architecture-on-film/. Robertson, A. (2018) Netflix’s Altered Carbon misses the point of cyberpunk. The Verge. [Online] [Accessed on 10th March 2018] https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/12/17004210/altered-carbon-netflix-blade-runneraesthetic-cyberpunk-retro-futurism. Rybczynski, W. (2008) ‘Mirror Images.’ Slate. [Online] [Accessed on 10th March 2018] http://www.slate.com/ articles/arts/architecture/2008/05/mirror_images.html. Sci-fi feature Elysium films Mexico City doubling for dystopian Los Angeles » The Location Guide (2013). [Online] [Accessed on 10th April 2018] http://www.thelocationguide.com/2013/08/ng-filmsci-fi-feature-elysium-filmsmexico-city-doubling-for-dystopian-los-angeles/. Sciretta, P. (2012) Over 45 Things We Learned on the Set of Len Wiseman’s ‘Total Recall’. [Online] [Accessed on 5th February 2018] http://www.slashfilm.com/total-recall-set-visit/. The Docyards (2016) ‘Architecture In The Viking Age: Urban Planning, Emporia, And Strongholds.’ The Dockyards. [Online] [Accessed on 10th March 2018] http://thedockyards.com/architecture-viking-age-urban-planningemporia-strongholds/. Wagner, K. (2016) ‘The Architecture of Evil: Dystopian Megacorps in Speculative Fiction Films.’ 99% Invisible. [Online] [Accessed on 6th March 2018] https://99percentinvisible.org/article/architecture-evil-dystopianmegacorps-speculative-fiction/. Vanderbilt, T. (2015) The Psychology Of Skyscrapers. Co.Design. [Online] [Accessed on 27th March 2018] https:// www.fastcodesign.com/3046722/the-psychology-of-living-in-skyscrapers. VC (2010) ‘The Occult Symbolism of Movie “Metropolis” and It’s Importance in Pop Culture.’ [Online] [Accessed on 10th April 2018] https://vigilantcitizen.com/moviesandtv/the-occult-symbolism-of-movie-metropolis-and-itsimportance-in-pop-culture/. Watch: The Psychology of Color in Film (2016) No Film School. [Online] [Accessed on 5th January 2018] https:// nofilmschool.com/2016/06/watch-psychology-color-film.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY What Are Utopias and Dystopias? (2016). [Online] [Accessed on 3rd January 2018] https://www.cliffsnotes. com/literature/g/the-giver/critical-essays/what-are-utopias-and-dystopias Wittmer, C. (n.d.) Netflix’s sci-fi epic ‘Altered Carbon’ has a great concept, but its compelling narrative gets lost in violence and overindulgence. Business Insider. [Online] [Accessed on 18th March 2018] http://www. businessinsider.com/netflixs-altered-carbon-review-great-concept-overindulgent-2018-2. Weigel, D. (2013) Elysium: The Little Allegory That (Almost) Could.. [Online] [Accessed on 12th February 2018] http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/08/10/elysium_the_little_allegory_that_almost_could.html. Williams, K. (1998) Symmetry in Architecture by Kim Williams, Architect [Online] [Accessed on 16th March 2018] https://www.mi.sanu.ac.rs/vismath/kim/index.html. Yarm, M. (2013) Elysium’s Director Thinks His Hellish Paradise Is Our Future. Let’s Hope He’s Wrong. WIRED. [Online] [Accessed on 22nd February 2018] https://www.wired.com/2013/07/blomkamp-elysium/.
YOUTUBE VIDEOS Marcus du Sautoy: Symmetry, reality’s riddle (2008). YouTube video, added by TED [Online]. [Accessed 13 March 2018] www.youtube.com/watch?v=415VX3QX4cU Marvel / Behind the scenes of the Thor: Ragnarok set design (2017). YouTube Video, added by QAGOMA [Online]. [Accessed 11 March 2018] www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PWn3Lu_Q78&t=21s Architecture in the Movies | Blade Runner (2017). YouTube Video, added by How to Architect [Online] [Accessed: 1 March 2018]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AEsqar8iWs How to recognize a dystopia - Alex Gendler (2016). YouTube Video, added by TED-Ed [Online] [Accessed 15 March 2018] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a6kbU88wu0
IMAGES Johnny Miller (2016) In Santa Fe, land is at such a premium that developers have begun to carve out housing estates from the surrounding slum areas. [Online Image] [Accessed 1st April 2018] unequalscenes.com/ mexico-city-df Johnny Miller (2016) Barrios extend from the bottom to the top of a ravine in Mexico City’s Santa Fe neighborhood. Above, the skyscrapers represent the wealth of the elite who live just on the opposite side of this highway bridge. [Online Image] [Accessed 1 April 2018] unequalscenes.com/mexico-city-df Novak (2016) The sectional view of the city of the future (Science and Invention magazine [Online Image] [Accessed 5th March 2018] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1927-magazine-looks-at-metropolis-amovie-based-on-science-4328353/ Expique (n.d. ) Bangkok’s floating markets: 8 Markets for 8 Occasions. [Online Image] [Accessed 15 March 2018] http://www.expique.com/blog/2014/10/30/bangkok-floating-markets-for-all-occasions/ Arrifin, H. (2018) Gaudi’s God [Digital Image]
FILM Altered Carbon (2018). Kalogridis, L. [TV series]. USA, Netflix. Thor: Ragnarok. (2017) Waititi. T. [Film]. Los Angeles, Marvel Studios. Thor (2011) Branagh, K. [Film] Los Angeles, Marvel Studios Thor: The Dark World (2013) Taylor, A. [Film] Los Angeles, Marvel Studios. Elysium (2013) Blomkamp, N. [Film] USA, TriStar Pictures. Total Recall (2012) Wiseman, L. [Film] USA, Columbia Pictures. “Smile” Doctor Who. (2008). BBC One, Saturday 22nd April 2017 82 | PAGE
AN INVESTIGATION OF THE UTOPIAN/ DYSTOPIAN NATURE OF CITIES THROUGH THE PORTRAYAL OF ARCHITECTURE IN FILM