Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Architecture in the Movies (LotR)

   As part of a larger theme of exploring imaginary architecture, i'd like to spend some time examining movies in which architecture plays an important role.  I'll avoid the obvious and rather boring choices of The Fountainhead or Towering Inferno, which really don't have nearly as much to do with the setting as one might be lead to believe by the premises.
   Instead, i'd like to link to a production video for the Lord of the Rings.  More about this below the video.

   It goes without saying that a good flick on the silver screen needs to have a good script and quality actors, but the extra details that go into set design and sound are the difference between "good" and "important".  It's not just that elves are slender, graceful and sing haunting melodies whereas dwarves are stocky, tough and drink heavily.  Consider the difference between Rivendell, Moria and Minas Tirith (no links, i don't have rights to film stills -- you could spend 11 hours in a lot worse ways than rewatching the trilogy).  There's an implied difference in the way each race LIVES, not just their aesthetic style.
  The real trick though, is in creating a used universe.  These sets don't define the aesthetic of the movie -- the backstory of the setting defines how the aesthetic must be.  This is the difference between Star Wars IV, V and VI and the more recent I, II, and III.  The juxtaposition of the sleek and the grungy is part of the appeal of The Matrix.  To make my point with another behind the scenes video: Joss Whedon.

  Watching these making-of films are making me nostalgic for worlds that never existed.  The sideways point i'm trying to make is that these worlds are lush with details that aren't thrown in haphazardly but are intentional and part of the larger story arc.  This is how all design should be.
   More on this during the week (or next Tuesday, as time permits).  Also, Facebook fans should stay tuned for some design work i've been tooling around with for the past few weeks!  I'm pretty excited about it.


  1. I'm surprised that you wouldn't be able to use LotR film stills under fair use. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

  2. I could have claimed fair use had i taken stills and reduced them to a low-quality size (around 200 px), but for the trouble i didn't think it would significantly add to the point. Alternatively i would have linked to another page, but i couldn't find quite what i was looking for. I tend to err on the side of caution with copyright.
    Still, i'll see if i can find some good images for the other movies i'd like to talk about that might avoid the issue entirely.