Cinema’s backdrops are built environments. People, lives, and feelings are inserted into the frames of landscapes, residences, and cities by filmmakers. Their relationship is undeniable, and the outcomes of this combination can be astounding in some circumstances. The choice of volumes, colors, and textures, as well as the circulation in and around building, dominates the theme of a film to a large extent. Check out our collection of 33 Notable Architecture Documentaries if you’re looking for a more straightforward approach to the subject.
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A selection of films in which architecture is an important part of the plot or serves as a backdrop to the stories of the architects who made them is provided below.
10 Architecture Movies Every Architect Should Watch
1. The belly of an architect (1987)
Architect Stourley Kracklite travels to Rome from Chicago to curate an exhibition honoring Etienne-Louis Boullée, a favorite and innovative architect. To investigate the relationship between the city and its monuments, director Peter Greenaway draws on his own experiences as an architect to look at how he keeps a clear line between design and construction. The exhibition is held at the Victor Emmanuel III Monument, a haughty pile of white marble smack dab in the middle of the old city. 
The director investigates architecture’s idealistic side with his biting humor, showcasing all of the unfinished or unrealized projects he has encountered. Symbols used by him, with their disputed meaning, transport us into a dreamy, but yet terrifying, world. Many of the film’s images are round, from the fruits to Newton’s tombstone to Kracklite’s pregnant wife’s tummy to his own bloated tummy, all of which emphasize the film’s central theme: spherical forms.
2. Medianeras/Sidewalls (2011)
There has never been a time in history when people’s roofs have been so close together. No time in human history has the distance between people’s hearts been greater than it is today.  The title of Gustavo Taretto’s work is not arbitrary, as it focuses on the entire argument. Sidewalls are both the real and symbolic “walls” that divide urban dwellers in megacities, prohibiting them from communicating with one another.
While working as a web designer in Buenos Aires, Martin spends much of his time taking care of his dog. Marianna, who was never able to work as an architect, stays in the building next door and decorates businesses with mannequin dolls. While they live next door to each other, they have never had the opportunity to meet. In the wake of these two tales, the director sets out to capture the ailments of contemporary life: loneliness, a sense of alienation, and a loss of individuality among the masses. A hornet’s nest of apartment buildings, plants sprouting out of concrete, and illegal windows placed on sidewalls to let in light are just some of the visuals shown in the series.
3. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982)
This film is focused on a single concept, and it’s a simple one at that. By contrast, man-made squalor stands in stark contrast to the splendor of nature. A stunning visual and aural experience, directed by Godfrey Reggio and sung by Philip Glass, it aims to raise awareness of the environmental threats posed by human activity.
A scene from the Pruit-Igoe Public Housing project in Saint Louis, Missouri, is shown, along with other scenes from the America of the 1970s. It was long regarded as a model for urban revitalization thanks to its design by modernist architect Minoru Yamasaki.  Due to a lack of political determination and the decline in the industrial economy, Pruit-Igoe fell into disrepair and never regained its former glory. Its razing signaled the end of modernism as a movement.
4. In exchange for five apartments and one shop! (2005)
As shown in Greek fiction films, Athens has undergone a dramatic architectural and social transformation (from the oldest Greek fiction film of 1924 to those of 2004). It examines how economic and social shifts have altered the cityscape of Athens as a whole. Films from diverse eras and civilizations rely on four actors who have been vilified for their interpretation.
Introduction, Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood, and Epilogue provide a five-part narrative structure that serves as both an architectural and sociological journey.
5. Dark City (1998)
When a free thinker begins to examine the things around him, like in Metropolis, Alex Proyas’ Dark City depicts a fake world aiming to construct ideal civilizations that are bound to fail. Human memories are created from the moment the clock reads “midnight” in this city without light. The Strangers are conducting an experiment in which they have assembled a population in an artificial society in order to analyze it.
Consciousness ebbs away for everyone. Machinery is put on hold. The city undergoes alterations. Underworld materials are transformed into skyscrapers, architectural plans are drawn up, chambers are furnished and props are placed. 
6. The infinite happiness (2015)
An architectural marvel by the name of Bjarke Ingels is featured in this short film. Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine chose not to interview the architect directly about his work, but rather to focus on what it’s like to live in this new community and hear from the people who live there.
There is one person who mentions his apprehension about tourists that use this building as a public area, but most of them are pleasant and lighthearted about their daily lives. Even in Denmark, convivial housing is a fresh concept. This illustrates the ideological barrier that 8 is attempting to break. 
7. Blade Runner (1982)
Another megacity society is about to devolve in Ridley Scott’s dystopian science fiction film The Monuments Men. Replicants, cyborgs created by humans for entertainment reasons, seek asylum in Los Angeles in the year 2019 in order to extend their lives. Replicant hunter Rick Deckard resides at the Ennis House, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece.
While the film’s exteriors are futuristic, with sky-scrapers and fast-evolving cars and machines, the interiors appear dusty and archaic, hinting to the decline of capitalism and the habitation of life through architecture. 
8. Sanxia Haoren/Still Life (2006)
The Three Gorges Dam is slowly destroying and flooding a town in Fengjie County. Visiting the town in search of their long-lost spouses, a man and a woman are surprised by the social shifts they see. It’s as if the city of Fengjie is slowly submerging beneath the waves, creating a new altering landscape filled with the spiritual drowning of its residents. There is a parallel search for Sanming and Shen’s families that they lost years ago, but the two protagonists never meet. They’re trying to put the pieces of their past together and go on with their lives in this changing and decaying world.
9. 24 City (2008)
A Jia Zhang Ke film, 24 City was released in 2008. During the 1950s, 1970s, and present, three generations of Chengdu residents labor in a factory that will soon be dismantled to make room for a new housing complex. An actual development (also known as “24 City”) was used for the movie’s residential complex, and it was built on the site of an airplane engine manufacturing factory.
Jia Zhang Ke interviews people whose lives are entirely dependent on the industry, balancing between fiction and actuality. It’s a real-world account of what it’s like to deal with China’s ever-changing sociopolitical landscape.
10. The architect (2016)
As the architect hired to construct a home for a married couple, Jonathan Parker’s character Miles Moss, embodies all the archetypes of the profession in this just released film. He is self-absorbed, egotistical, and devoted to his work. Is he building their dream home, or is he building his own?