Exploding spaces : present and future urban spaces cinematically considered

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study seeks to understand the visual dynamics of contemporary science fiction cities in film by exploring a number of diverse architectural and cinematic influences. The argument is initiated through a consideration of utopianism and science fiction, before moving onto specific architectural analysis focused on utopian plans from the modernist period, and the growth of New York during the 1920s. Through a brief reading of German Expressionist Cinema in Chapter 3, the spatial and architectural groundwork is laid for the analysis of several films in Chapters 4-6: Disclosure, Blade Runner, Selen, The Devil's Advocate, 12 Monkeys and The Fifth Element. (While not all the films would be considered as science fiction, those non-science fiction films offer provocative readings of the city as a whole). Within the discussion of these films, the paradigmatic nature of New York and Los Angeles is also analyzed. The author finds that the central thesis holds, though discussion of other contemporary films not dealt with here could produce an alternative interpretation. Specifically, the work of Edward Soja and Michel Foucault provide fruitful lines of examination through an engagement with the spatiality of postmodernism, though postmodernism is not analyzed in itself. The dissertation aims to have current application, in terms of the recent release of some of the films, but is also written with the aim of future expansion, stressing the design aspect of contemporary film.

Summary in English.

Bibliography: pages 148-152.