February 23, 2013

Planet of the Architects

Speaking of Planet of the Apes movies, over at Uncouth Reflections, Blowhard, Esq. reflects, "I Graduated from a Monkey Prison." He first watches the 1972 illegal immigration fable Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which was filmed at his alma mater U.C. Irvine to achieve the properly futuristic sterile dystopia look. Then he visits contemporary UC Irvine and takes photos from as close as he can get to the movie's point-of-view without a crane. 

Thank God for landscaping.
Most of the University of California campuses were built at the nadir of postwar modernism. But, given enough water, trees grow like crazy in California, so the gardeners have managed to hide most of the architecture by now.

UC Irvine, like much of Southern California, was designed by USC architecture professor William Pereira, who was proud of making everything look like a brutalist sci-fi nightmare: 
“Remarkably prolific, he worked out of Los Angeles, and was known for his love of science fiction … Though his buildings were often quite stark and sterile in their appearance (owing largely to the science fiction of the era), they were noted for their functional style with a certain flair that made them unmistakable. He took pride in the concept of designing for the future.”

He’d also worked as an art director on Hollywood movies during WWII.

It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies. After a few decades go by, you can tell exactly the year a sci-fi movie was made just from the art direction. 

113 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies. After a few decades go by, you can tell exactly the year a sci-fi movie was made just from the art direction.

Yeah, down to the things like computer interfaces, gadgets, consoles, etc.

sabril said...

"It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies."

I basically agree. It's sad how little we realize that we are prisoners of fashion. Not just clothing and architecture, but also moral and intellectual ideas.

Mr Lomez said...

My office is in that building. It's as bad on the inside as it is on the out - claustrophobic and soulless. I feel like I'm in a rat maze. Of course, no one seems to care. As with many things on this blog, sometimes it's easier not to notice.

Harry Baldwin said...

The future in a nutshell: "Disneyland Visitors Stranded After Monorail’s Wheel Falls Off."

Anonymous said...

The future and posterity just aren't the same. The future is a grammatical tense. Like gender.

Anonymous said...

I like this kind of sci-fi stalinist architecture.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanwiz/8390246012/

FWG said...

I always enjoy these "then and now" comparisons. Architecture has always interested me, although admittedly, my knowledge doesn't go much farther than "oh look there's a pretty building!" The old modernist (no pun intended) buildings do seem pretty brutal.

Anonymous said...

When I look at all those brutal postwar campuses built to educate the boomers I have to wonder whether the hippie, 68er movement wasn't deeply reactionary in the best sense of the term? Was it a deeply human reaction against living and working in a giant Skinner box? One of the best bit of evidence for my case are these photos of early '70s rock stars in their parents' futuristic living rooms:
http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/alt-news/awesome-thing-of-the-day-rock-stars-and-their-parents-and-their-parents-amazing-living-rooms.html

David Crosby looks like a sleepy Viking who's taking a rest after his long journey to the land of slide-rules and jet planes.

Sadly I think the technocratic types just learned to accommodate the hippies by making the permanent revolution feel silly and fun, rather than cold and brutal. It reminds me of that cruel experiment they did to see whether a baby monkey preferred an artificial mother made of chicken wire or terrycloth even if the chicken-wire "mother" had a milk bottle in it. The permanent revolution machine rolls on but now it's painted in fun colours and communicates in a non-threatening kindergarten tone. See Stewart Brand and his "Long Now" entourage for one of the best examples of this Jacobinism with a cuddly, terrycloth cover.

DYork said...

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

That film starts with a note on the intro scene that says 1990? I think. Pretty good prediction for the LA riots of 1992 considering that this was the most obviously Apes=blacks of all the Planet of the Apes films.

Roddy McDowell was great in that movie.

It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies.

Check out the great Woody Allen/Marshall Brickman 1973 film "Sleeper". Love the scenes where you see computers of the future and they are just REALLY, REALLY BIG blinking computers or ones with spinning tapes.

Still using vacuum tubes and tape instead of chips hundreds of years into the future.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"Most of the University of California campuses were built at the nadir of postwar modernism."

My alma mater, Berkeley, is one of the fortunate exceptions; it was founded early enough that most of the campus was done in the Beaux-Arts style.

syon

rightsaidfred said...

I wonder if some of this architecture was in response to the cold war: "See, we can do Brutalism better than the Sovs."

Glossy said...

"He took pride in the concept of designing for the future.”

What a moron. Phidias designed for the future. The Parthenon was built more than 100 generations ago and is admired to this day. Anyone who actually wants to know how to design for the future should study guys who had already succeeded at it - guys who built the Acropilis, the Pantheon, Notre Dame de Paris, St. Peter's, etc. In their cases the future has already spoken. It likes their work.

I bet even aliens would prefer real architecture to modernist crap.

Henry Canaday said...

I always thought post-World War II architecture had something to do with the Cold War, as in “if this thing is vaporized by nuclear weapons, we won’t have lost much.” It’s interesting how some airport architects, once the most addicted to sleek modernity, have turned back toward glass and girders, just like Victorian train stations and Prince Albert’s exhibition hall.

Canadian CIncinnatus said...

"It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies. After a few decades go by, you can tell exactly the year a sci-fi movie was made just from the art direction."

True, except for the sci-fi films of Stanley Kubrick.

Take 2001. Look at the clothes and the hair styles. Nothing like what you would associate with the year 1968.

A Clockwork Orange offers a little more hints that it was done in 1970: the garish colours, the longish hair. But even then, it manages to not look dated because the youth fashions and the lingo was invented for the film.

Anonymous said...

Ever been to Netch's brutalist dystopia which is U of Illinois- Chicago?

Hell on Earth.

Reg Cæsar said...

People assume businessmen and bureaucrats are suckers taken in by smooth-talking modernist aesthetes. But how much of the appeal of modernism, especially brutalism, comes down to cheap, easy and quick?

I'd read that Minoru Yamasaki's original design for Pruitt-Igoe in St Louis was a balanced mix of high- and low-rise buildings and single-family houses. But the housing authority said, no, let's make them all big. That had to be a budget decision. (And the World Trade Center in NYC was more Rockefeller than Yamasaki.) At least he redeemed himself somewhat at the airport.

"Yama" spent the war designing Army bunkers. (Ours.) Perfect training for the postwar style!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like it is look more 21st century than the buildings today. Buildings don't have to looked 19th centuriezed for me. Republicans like the future look while Democratics like buildings and trains and so forth from the past.

Reg Cæsar said...

How's this for a brutalist masterpiece?

It's the work of Ralph Rapson, who tellingly kept his office, where he worked until his nineties, inside the building, where he didn't have to look at it.

It was locally known as the Crack Stacks because the lower half was filled with welfare clients. (The problems lessened when they were replaced with Somalis.) The upper floors are a premium residence--again, it's the only place near downtown where you don't have to look at it.

Ironically, two of the best acoustical experiences in the world are said to be Rapson's original Guthrie Theater, and Frank Gehry's Disney Hall. These guys must have been all ears and no eyes!

agnostic said...

Good sci-fi movies destabilize your mindset by presenting a world that seems both convincingly futuristic but also vividly of the here-and-now. It makes you unconsciously appreciate that it could happen here, without having to hold up a sign that says, "Hey idiots, you know this could happen here."

Watching them decades later, it makes them look dated, but they weren't intended to look timeless -- they were supposed to feel immediate and topical. Shit's going down right here, right now, and look where it could lead to. Usually the "message" is timeless, but not the look.

Videodrome, Total Recall, RoboCop, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, Blade Runner, etc.

If the look is too timeless, it's more of an escapist fantasy kind of movie. That's if it has a strongly identifiable look. But often enough it just comes out looking bland out of a worry about it looking dated in a few years.

That's the impression I get from sci-fi movies since roughly the '90s. The Matrix has this fake timelessness that comes out bland and forgettable. Most of the mid-century sci-fi movies are like that too, no vivid sense of two different time periods or places jutting into each other. Not destabilizing, hence no lingering anxiety about where society is headed after you leave the theater or turn off the TV.

Anonymous said...

Its usually what the left thought of Orange County in the 1960's basically middle clas white with low poverty and some were members of the John Birch society. The left thought of the OC and San Diego in the 1960's and early 1970's as fascists.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"Most of the University of California campuses were built at the nadir of postwar modernism."

My alma mater, Berkeley, is one of the fortunate exceptions; it was founded early enough that most of the campus was done in the Beaux-Arts style.
I belief you are probably a democratic, buildings have to have that old fashion looked. Berkeley is overrated anyway.

Anonymous said...

always thought post-World War II architecture had something to do with the Cold War, as in “if this thing is vaporized by nuclear weapons, we won’t have lost much.” It’s interesting how some airport architects, once the most addicted to sleek modernity, have turned back toward glass and girders, just like Victorian train stations and Prince Albert’s exhibition hall.

2/23/13, 7:26 AM
Well I liked the modern look.

agnostic said...

Seems like good horror movies have a vivid here-and-now look as well, again to destabilize the audience into believing that something other-worldly could invade their own neck of the woods.

Still, it's not so much "now" as "here". King Kong has a very Jazz Age look, but the main contrast is the primitive island vs. the modern city. A Nightmare on Elm Street is also clearly set in the 1980s, but it's more about the white picket fence suburbs vs. their subtly altered states once Freddy Krueger draws them into the nightmare world.

Your generic horror movies from the mid-century or the past 20 years don't even have a strong contrast between here and some other world. Just compare Creature from the Black Lagoon to Jaws. Or the naturalistic look of the torture porn, zombie, and vampire movies of recent years vs. the other-worldly look and feel of their counterparts from the '80s.

pat said...

It's a little unfair to pick on Sci-Fi. Anyone who has Netflix will soon discover that almost all of the lowest rated movies are the Sci-Fi ones. There are almost no thrillers or Rom-Coms with only two stars. A Western or a drama that has been rated that low will soon be out of the catalog, but there are many Sci-Fi films that bad or worse that seem to maintain a following.

This must mean that the Sci-Fi audience likes bad movies. I must confess to a certain weakness for Sci-Fi crap myself.

Last night I wanted to watch an old Sci-Fi film so I searched for the films of Richard Carlson - my favorite actor when I was ten.

That's how I came to watch "The Maze" - a clear contender for worst movie of all time. For an hour and a half the cast discusses what's wrong with Richard. They should have asked me - almost everything about this movie was wrong. Finally in the final scene we learn the shocking truth. Richard Carlson's grandfather was a frog. Pretty shocking, eh what?

Sci-Fi is like rock and roll - it cannot be parodied. It's really too awful. But I did watch that dreadful movie all the way through. What does that mean?

Albertosaurus

agnostic said...

Thrillers fit the pattern too -- destabilize the audience by giving them a strongly contemporary look.

Here's one genre where the mid-century did pretty well. Double Indemnity, Rear Window, The Big Heat, etc. Seven and Lost Highway look very '90s, and Memento and Mulholland Drive look very early 2000s.

Seems like the thrillers from the '70s and '80s were tinged with the sci-fi kind of approach where there's a stylized contrast between two time periods or two worlds. The interior shots of the CIA bureaus in Three Days of the Condor have that techno-futuristic look, vs. the gritty '70s apartment buildings, back alleys, etc. That dance club scene from Basic Instinct is also highly stylized with neon, vs. the fresh-air shots of older buildings around San Francisco.

And how about that underworld music video for "Relax" that erupts in the middle of easy-breezy shots of LA in Body Double?

riches said...

In another entry at Uncouth, Blowhard bemoans the marketing of an après(?)-sex wipe tissue and provides a link to the product’s press release. The release promises an ad campaign with “arresting images and cleaver (sic) innuendos”.

Anonymous said...

"Zeerust: the particular kind of datedness which afflicts things that were originally designed to look futuristic."
— The Meaning Of Liff

Anonymous said...

"U of Illinois- Chicago?"

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?p=4645615

I like it.

Dennis Dale said...

John Boorman's Zardoz (1974) is a terrific example of this. Knit pastels, Connery's hot pants singlet get up, etc. The future looked like one giant swinger's club.

Has anyone ever pointed out how stupid the original Planet of the Apes idea was?
Heston believes he's traveled the universe only to discover a planet of humans and environment indistinguishable from our own. What are the chances? Idiot should have figured it out in the first five minutes.
Oh right, the apes are talking! (English, of course) Totally different.

seth said...

Visions of the future always reflect their time. Your connection between sci-fi and architecture is particularly trenchant because architecture, unlike fashion, is meant to last. It is like the present is telling the future, "This is what you will look like."

What I find fascinating is the extent to which trends in architecture are driven by material costs. I live in Manhattan, where all the newest and coolest buildings are glass-fronted serpentine messes. I assume these are much cheaper to build than stone or brick buildings.

These hypermodern glass buildings look cool for a year or two and then acquire a grimy patina that makes them look like 1970s East German apartment blocks.

Anonymous said...

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-business-immigration-20130223,0,676130.story

Anonymous said...

Sailer should do a whole series on...

What if Italians had founded America..

What is Japanese had founded America...

What if Russians had founded America...

What if Greeks had founded America...

What if Spanish had founded America...

What if Turks had founded America...

What if Chinese had founded America...

What if Iranians had founded America...

What if Arabs had founded America...

What if Congolese had founded American...

eh said...

That building has at least two NorCal doppelgangers: the library at San Francisco State and the nursing building at USF.

Anonymous said...

I don't like brutal brutalism but I like restrained brutalism. It's very much to the point, very essentialist, no gayish fancifulness, or precious minimalism.

It boldly declares itself but has enough design to make it fascinating.
One thing I don't like about brutalism is the use of concrete. I wish they'd used marble or some other material, but concrete was cheap and easy to work with.

Concrete uglifies everything, and THAT I think was the main shortcoming of brutalism.
Concrete uglified much of Roman classicism too. Romans used Greek motifs but used tons of concrete, and so Roman stuff don't have the radiant beauty of Greek stuff made of marble. Roman classicism looks drab and heavy because of the concrete. Paul Johnson mentions this in his book about art.

Anonymous said...

Concrete brutalizes everything. Imagine Michelangelo's David made of concrete.

And notice Nashville's Parthenon looks like crap because it looks like a pile of concrete/cement.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Xx0N7O1X5XQ/TPFynTaqAaI/AAAAAAAACj8/SkoD3Yh6K4w/s1600/Nashville_Parthenon_1.jpg

Anonymous said...

I like the datedness of certain things, and among them is 60s sci-fi stuff.

While they are of a time, there's a timeless quality to them as well because they were so unadorned and geometric. It's essentialist.

In contrast, earlier imagining of the future looked old-fashioned. Consider movies like THINGS TO COME.

alonzo portfolio said...

... Berkeley ... one of the fortunate exceptions ... most of the campus was done in the Beaux-Arts style.

What, you didn't like hanging out in Tolman Hall?

Anonymous said...

I checked uncouth reflections site and must say I really love that stuff.

I prefer it to the overly pretty and fancy pantsy stuff they're putting up now.

This is the stuff I don't like:

http://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/projects/7673/images/149207/large/1l-image.jpg

Brasileiro said...

Amcient Greek and Roman architeture was beyond beatiful but tehen came the Dark Ages of Christianity...

Mr. Anon said...

"Canadian CIncinnatus said...

Take 2001. Look at the clothes and the hair styles. Nothing like what you would associate with the year 1968."

Really? It looks pretty dated to me. None of the characters in the beinning of the movie would have looked out of place in "Help" or "The Avengers". I think Kubrick just projected the sixties british Mod look forward in time.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/11/chinese-architecture-old-and-new/100409/

Good? Bad?

Anonymous said...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/de/University_Library_at_Northwestern.jpg

I like it.

Anonymous said...

One problem with brutalism. Not enough glass.

I guess using more concrete and less glass was more costly. Brutalism was budgetism?

Anonymous said...

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_i8bHvCWsUqU/S7J_W_-8dmI/AAAAAAAAAZI/VQGDiJfO_SY/s1600/127InUniversity.jpg

Brutal or unbrutal?

Either case, I like it.

Anonymous said...

Most interesting architectural movies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSqhOzdTG-g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucIO_LUdSG8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_7weUR0oMY

http://youtu.be/uzHThoav6hs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hLXOVCZr-8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK5Rz6txcDU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hP9D6kZseM

Anonymous said...

For some reason, 60s stuff, even if dated, don't seem 'old'. One might say modern popular culture begins with the 60s. Is it because for the first time, most films were being shot in color? Is it because rock music and culture that arose in 60s is still the template of today's pop music culture? (50s rock n roll in contrast does seem old.) Is it because of the new naturalism in culture, when movies like BONNIE AND CLYDE and WILD BUNCH raised the threshold on sex and violence? Because European cinema--art and popular--took on new attitudes? JULES AND JIM is about Europe from early 1910s to 1930s but feels very much like a 60s film. 60s was a time when modernism finally became a mass thing. You could see it in 8 1/2, 2001, PLAYTIME. Rock music became personal art music with even avant garde touches. Prior to the 60s, high and avant garde culture were for the elites and intellectuals while the masses had their own mass or middle-brow culture. While 60s tended to divide old and young, it united the high and low. (As 60s generation sought to remain 'forever young', a kind of unity between old and young eventually took place by the 80s and 90s. Even older Republicans seem to be into rock music.)

When I see DR. STRANGELOVE, IN COLD BLOOD, or THE GRADUATE, I don't think 'old movie'. Maybe a bit dated yes, but I still feel a connection in terms of sensibility. In contrast, VERTIGO and ON THE WATERFRONT seem more of a different time. Romantic or naturalistic, pre-60s stuff seems disconnected from our world.
Ford's GRAPES OF WRATH and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE historically take place after the chronology of THE WILD BUNCH, but WILD BUNCH seems closer to us.

PSYCHO is somewhere between 50s and 60s. As is YOJIMBO... and then came the decisive break with the Spaghetti Westerns and 007 movies. They were really something new in attitude and style. And then BONNIE and CLYDE and WILD BUNCH. Major things happened.

Anonymous said...

What might the new style be called?

Beautalism? Use of prettiness to cover up the ruthless machinations of globalism? Gentrified parts of NY and other cities look real nice and pretty. Cool, hip, even elegant. But what are the forces that makes the new elite privilege possible?
Masses of cheap Mexican and Central American laborers working in slaughter houses. Masses of black males in prisons. Relocation of urban blacks to small towns and suburbs. Increased police presence and patdowns of suspects according to race. Stagnation of the middle classes and hollowing out of the working classes.
In some ways, the NWO is even more brutal but it's nicely hidden by beauty in elite surroundings. Thus, beautalism. Once there was the Gilded Age. Now, the shielded age.

Melykin said...

Simon Fraser University in the Vancouver, BC area also consists of ugly, grey cement buildings. Simply ghastly in the winter when it is raining all the time.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2624/3741527054_cc3d2e84e4.jpg

Anonymous said...

"It's sad how little we realize that we are prisoners of fashion. Not just clothing and architecture, but also moral and intellectual ideas."

OTOH, this also allows us to hold great hope for change. Fashion eventually exceeds the point of ridicule, and it changes, often to disappear entirely. As codpieces and women's shoulder pads go, so will PC. However, the time scales are much different. "Power dressing" came and went within a decade, but the wax and wane of ideology spans multiple decades, sometimes centuries.

I think we are seeing a lot of change already, you just have to know what to look for. See Ann Coulter's essay (an iSteve idea expressed by a mainstream conservative writer), or Geert Wilders' visit to Australia that drew 500 audience members, many of them Jews (a highly influential demographic). 10 years ago an event like that would have probably only drawn 20 people.

It's only a small jump from ending Muslim immigration to clamping down on other kinds of immigration. Tie the immigration cutbacks to an exemption for Jews (say a "Holocaust Prevention Act") and you cut to the heart of a primary reason for why immigration has been so stridently promoted over the years. And even if you had this exemption, it would not change Jewish immigration levels much or at all. Most Jews are happy where they are, but they like options.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about CONQUEST OF PLANET OF APES and 60s/early 70s politics...

Though Nixon was president, the whole dichotomy seemed to be essentially leftist vs liberal vs nature.
Nixon did yammer about law and order, but much of the new law and order had been constructed by the best and the brightest liberals.

Liberals came up with 'brutalism' and modern organization and management. Liberals were into conditioning and behaviorism. It was like the HELLSTROM CHRONICLE. Trying to create the perfect system like ants. It's like Flynn making CLU in TRON LEGACY.

Liberals had their own progressive dream of something like Germania. It was as if the best and brightest understood how the human mind worked, what the workers needed, what young people needed to learn. Though all of this came to be associated with 'fascism' by the New Left, it has its roots in Marxist utopianism and Stalinism. And though people see Freudianism as sexual libertinism, it was as much a means to control people's behavior and minds.
Though 50s is associated with conservatism, the people who came up with new means of law and order, housing, economics, and etc. were mostly liberals, people like John Kenneth Galbraith.
For a time, they even thought Vietnam could be won by rational organizational modern means of combat and management. But just as rational liberal organization got lost in the jungles of Vietnam, the rationalist organizational conceits of post-war liberals came head to head with anarchic energies of the 60s. White liberals thought Negroes could be controlled, elevated, and made middle class. Basic housing and better schools were built for blacks. Blacks burnt them down.
Liberals thought young people could be better ordered and organized in new modern schools, but 60s youth went nuts and took drugs and listened to rock music and rolled in the mud at Woodstock.
Rational brutalism clashed with anarchic jungleism. Robert McNamara was the face of liberal best and brightest-ness. He failed in Vietnam, just as liberal organizational principles failed the cities.

Now, the elites have embraced 'anarchic' pop culture as a means of social control, and we are moving to what Aldous Huxley warned BRAVE NEW WORLD. Controlled management of hedonism and pleasure principle to turn people into sheep.

Anonymous said...

Could the revolution in CONQUEST been prevented if the humans had embraced Caesar, made him mayor of the city, and used him as a genteel 'role model' liberator for the potentially unruly apes?
Pick the smartest ape, put him on a pedestal--buy him off--, and pacify the apes by making them believe that they have the power as one of them is da mayor.

Gee, I wonder if anyone thought of such an idea in real life.

Anonymous said...

Is Obama like Emperor Puyi?

Remember Japanese had the real power but made it seem like Manchurian ruler was in control.

Anonymous said...

http://www.wallpaper.com/gallery/architecture/brasilia-in-pictures-50-years-50-buildings/17051871

Fellini movie set?

Anonymous said...

UC Santa Cruz has some gorgeous architecture, though it's overshadowed by being sited on one of the most spectacular locations in California if not the planet.

Anonymous said...

"Fashion eventually exceeds the point of ridicule, and it changes, often to disappear entirely. As codpieces and women's shoulder pads go, so will PC."

PC isn't a fashion but a religion, and religions last a long time.
The trickery of PC is that, even as it gains great power, it posits itself as the 'opposition'.
Soviet Union failed because Marxism became official and failed to deliver. It came to be seen as the power.
But, PC, though very powerful, still acts like it's part of the 'resistance'.

Also, PC is as much used for white privilege as to end it. Not for all white privilege but for white liberal privilege. White liberals increase their own privilege by invoking PC in the name of fighting white privilege. So, rich white liberals wage a class war on low middle class and working class whites in the name of ending white privilege while their own privilege keeps increasing.

Anonymous said...

The best sci-fi movies don't date nearly as much. Someone mentioned Kubrick and 2001, but 2001 is not much different from the other great sci-fi movies in that regard. (While it sits among other great sci-fi movies, it is surely the greatest hard sci-fi movie of all time. Perhaps it is also this hard aspect that is an attempt at realism rather than to mould itself to the viewer's expectations of what the future should look like, which also serves to mute fashions of the future.)

http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=sci_fi&title_type=feature&num_votes=1000,&sort=user_rating,desc

The other aspect that especially dates sci-fi movies is the special effects. Many genres of movies don't require them at all, but sci-fi usually does. Early special effects are so primitive compared to (some) modern CGI, which makes it harder to suspend disbelief for the modern audience who accustomed to realistic special effects. By contrast, acting reached a plateau probably even before film started. There is still no one better than Brando.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ghzomm15yE

We were this movie in highschool in 1983. It seemed bizarre and dated then. Now it looks downright downright weird.

Anonymous said...

Then there is the beautiful Bradley building. It was built in the 1870's to look like a building in the year 2000.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJsW6ta4X8o

Blow em up real good.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 12:25 PM:

I used to have a British encyclopedia set from the early 1920's. It had eight volumes I seem to recall. It looked at the very question you asked. Maybe some internet sleauth can dig it up. It had one key point in it. East to west settlement of America was much easier and more practical then west to east would have been. The Chinese would have come up against numerous mountain ranges, then the Rockies, and the deserts of the southwest, etc, before working their way into the heart of the continent. In contrast rivers and waterways tended to make movement from the eastern direction much more advantageous. And the only mountain line to cross until hitting the Rockies at the 3/4 mark was the much lower Appalachians.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous:"I belief you are probably a democratic, buildings have to have that old fashion looked. Berkeley is overrated anyway."

MMMM, aesthetic preference reveals politics? A comforting theory, but I don't think that it really holds up. The Bauhaus boys, for example, were hardly men of the Right.

As for me being a "democratic," nothing could be further from the truth. I subscribe to Burkean conservatism.

"Berkeley overrated":Architecturally or academically? In terms of Architecture, I don't agree. I think that it has the most architecturally pleasing campus in the UC system. In terms of academics, well, ... that all depends on what makes a university great. If teaching defines greatness, then, no, UCB is not very good. The classes are simply too large. If student quality defines it, then, yes, UCB is pretty damn good.

syon

epobirs said...

Most of the exteriors for Conquest of the Planet of the Apes were shot at the then new Century City Mall. It looked very different before all of the store logos and such went up.

I spent my early childhood a couple miles from a building that appeared in a lot ofold SF movies and TV because it was so odd looking but in close proximity to where much of the industry lived. The old Thousand Oaks Civic Center had the look of a pair of cut off pyramids sitting atop a hill. It originally overlooked an open field where the Oaks Mall now stands. (They still sell postcards of the pre-Mall view.) Among other roles, it served as the building that housed Proteus IV in Demon Seed and was attacked by Steve Austin in a first season episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. My siblings and I went insane watching that one in a house about a half-hour's walk away.

Anonymous said...

"PC isn't a fashion but a religion, and religions last a long time."

It's as much an intellectual fashion as it is a religion. Women use it as a way to gain social status. But even religions have their fashions and fashionable ideas. Witness the crusades or inquisitions.

The more counterproductive something is, the harder it is to endure. Maybe PC does benefit some white liberals (i.e. the political and media leadership), but as a whole it doesn't. As a religion, it's suicidal. Suicide is not a recipe for longevity.

I see those foreign nationals who have immigrated to be much like the ignorant people who venture out onto the beach when the water suddenly recedes. They think that this change could possibly be permanent, or more realistically they have never bothered to pose the question in those terms. They don't see the crest of the tsunami in the distance.

"The trickery of PC is that, even as it gains great power, it posits itself as the 'opposition'."

Economic marxists did this as well. They too were eventually seen as the orthodoxy, much as PC is today. In the last few years, WN and other anti-PC argument has effectively referred to the PC establishment or orthodoxy. I don't see nearly as much "fight the power" type rhetoric from the left these days, and what little there is, is implausible.

Glossy said...

"What I find fascinating is the extent to which trends in architecture are driven by material costs. I live in Manhattan, where all the newest and coolest buildings are glass-fronted serpentine messes."

I blame ideology, not material costs. Huge amounts of money are paid to starchitects to design glass boxes and worse. I've read that the new Gehry apartment building in lower Manhattan was very expensive to build. It looks crumpled on purpose. This made every floor plan different. That added to construction costs. That's an example of extra money being spent to make a building look even uglier than it would have looked as a box.

The cheap, utilitarian solution for corporate headquarters in New York is to build in Queens or Long Island or wherever. Midtown towers are to a company what a tail is to a peacock. If they're ugly, it's not because not enough money was spent on them. Similarly, "bling" is tacky because of the ideas behind it, not because it's actually cheap.

The cheap, utilitarian approach is to pay an average engineer's salary to your architects and then to reuse their designs thousands of times. That's a description of how public housing projects were built. It has nothing to do with Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers or with starchitects. Big corporate headquarters and luxury apartment buildings are ugly on purpose, in the same way that modern art is.

Steve often says that political correctness makes people stupid. The modernist mindset also makes buildings ugly.

If the modernist disaster didn't happen, the bulk of Manhattan skyscrapers would have now looked like the Municipal Building, the Woolworth Building, the New York Life Building, the Park Row Building.

Another example: the ugly, absurd clothes shown on runways are expensive to make. The designers are paid a lot of money and the materials are often costly. I'm talking about haute couture here. The ugliness and absurdity are ideological, not utilitarian.

Odysseus said...

This is nothing compared to the decline in the architecture of Catholic churches over the last hundred years.

Anonymous said...

"If the modernist disaster didn't happen, the bulk of Manhattan skyscrapers would have now looked like the Municipal Building, the Woolworth Building, the New York Life Building, the Park Row Building."

I also like the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Bldg, Tribune Tower.

Tall buildings are best scene from a distance, not on the sidewalk next to it. That is why newer building like John Hancock Ctr in Chicago look good from miles away. However, once you get too many tall buildings next to each other, the views of them are blocked out. And then there is the wind that comes off of them.

Sitting in a cube all day in a great building is just as bad as in an ugly building.

It would have been interesting to be in the Empire State Bldg before A/c. How about opening the window 900 feet up?

Anonymous said...

Somehow accidentally posted a cut-down version of what I meant to say.

Anonymous:"I belief you are probably a democratic, buildings have to have that old fashion looked. Berkeley is overrated anyway."

MMMM, aesthetic preference reveals politics? A comforting theory, but I don't think that it really holds up.Eliot,an Anglo-Catholic royalist,embraced the most radical innovations in poetry.

For that matter, following your theory that leftists favor traditional styles, we should expect to see left-wing architects abjuring modernism, but that was not the case. The Bauhaus boys, for example, were hardly men of the Right.

As for me being a "democratic," nothing could be further from the truth. I subscribe to Burkean conservatism.

"Berkeley overrated":Architecturally or academically? In terms of Architecture, I don't agree. I think that it has the most architecturally pleasing campus in the UC system. In terms of academics, well, ... that all depends on what makes a university great. If teaching defines greatness, then, no, UCB is not very good. The classes are simply too large. If student quality defines it, then, yes, UCB is pretty damn good.

syon

Anonymous said...

Seth is not imagining things:
"These hypermodern glass buildings look cool for a year or two and then acquire a grimy patina that makes them look like 1970s East German apartment blocks."

Like dirty shower doors, glass never really gets very clean by using squeegees. To restore the luster you need an abrasive like melamine foam or good old fashioned chalk sometimes called whiting when used for polishing.

After working in big buildings for the last 20 years, I've developed tower fatigue. Why can't we all just work at home?

Anonymous said...

Heston believes he's traveled the universe only to discover a planet of humans and environment indistinguishable from our own. What are the chances? Idiot should have figured it out in the first five minutes.
Oh right, the apes are talking! (English, of course) Totally different. Well, in the book they all spoke French since a Frenchmen wrote the book.
2/23/13, 11:50 AM

David Davenport said...

Concrete uglified much of Roman classicism too. Romans used Greek motifs but used tons of concrete, and so Roman stuff don't have the radiant beauty of Greek stuff made of marble.

You do understand that That Classic White Sculpture Once Had a Paint Job ?


THE 18th-century scholar Johann Winckelmann coined the memorable phrase “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” to describe the qualities he admired in ancient Greek and Roman statues, which in his time were thought to have been created in gleaming white marble or unadorned bronze. So ingrained was this notion of austere, monochromatic ancient sculpture that it came as a shock when in the 19th century newly unearthed masterpieces showed traces of their original pigment. ...

Liberals had their own progressive dream of something like Germania.

Altogether different from the orginal Germania ?

Lots of shovel-ready jobs!

... From 1939 to 1942 the areas of the city earmarked for the project were being cleared and existing properties demolished. Even the nocturnal visits of the RAF in 1940 were welcomed by Speer’s staff as providing ‘valuable preparatory work’ for the demolition programme. ...

... Speer’s plans for Berlin are fascinating. In an architectural sense, they are – if nothing else – a potent display of the astonishing extremes that can be reached by sycophantic architects ...


... Geert Wilders' visit to Australia that drew 500 audience members, many of them Jews (a highly influential demographic). ...

/////////////

I attended a Geert Wilders speech about three years ago. The warm-up speakers gave me the impression that your highly influential demographic are sponsoring Wilders, at least his speaking tour in the USA.

Don't get me wrong. I think Muslims should be expelled from North America. But when one of his warm-up talkers started name-dropping our great friend and ally in the Middle East, I lost interest in Geert Wilders. His backers of a highly influential demographic hurt their own cause by spreading it on too thick.

By the way, Wilders looked to me to have something in common with Eddie Van Halen.

Anonymous said...

"Steve often says that political correctness makes people stupid. The modernist mindset also makes buildings ugly."

Modernism in architecture was not the problem.

Rather, the problem is me-so-peculiar-and-different-ism. That's why Frank Gehry sucks.

But take the Seagram Building. It's simple, neat, and nice.

http://lookuparchitecture.com/historyearlymodern/earlymodernseagram.gif

Of course, we don't want all buildings to look just like it, and I'm opposed to dogmatic schools in art, but best of modernist architecture kept things clean and pure.

Post-modernism should be credited with bringing back some adornment and flavor to modernist architecture(which got a bit dogmatic after awhile), but then came the likes of Gehry and others whose eccentricities are mostly annoying.

Gehry's scrap metal sheet design is about the ugliest thing I ever did see.

I'm open to all sorts of new stuff, and I suppose trendiness doesn't really matter with new buildings. In the past, buildings were built to last 'forever', but many are built today knowing that the stuff will be demolished to make way for the new eventually.

But one thing that bothers me about a lot of new architecture: It seems a kind of Italian 'futurism' is back in vogue. Futurist painters and sculptors sought to convey a sense of movement and action to still images and objects. As interesting as it was an idea, it generally didn't make for satisfying art--and was rather pointless in the age of cinema.
Futurist art didn't work as still art because of the strain to convey the impression of movement. But it didn't work as dynamic art because, despite all the impression of motion, it was a still object. An object has to know its limitations.

But this is even more problematic with architecture. Buildings are huge and solid, and huge solid objects do not move like organic creatures, waves of water, or like sound waves of music. So, when architecture tries so hard to be fluid, flexible, undulating, and etc,--or create such impression--, it looks unsatisfying. It fails both as still object and moving object. It's a still object that seems discontent with stillness and strives for movement, but of course, it's still frozen in form and really doesn't move.
So, it just looks stupid.

It's like a hippo trying to create the impression that it's about to fly into the air and soar like a bird but being stuck to the ground as a big fat beast.

Now, subtle and nuanced elements added to buildings to play with light and shapes to give just an intimation of fluidity or movement can be wonderful.

But the "new apartment Gehry building", though impressive at first sight, seems sillier and sillier the more you look at it. At first sight, you think, 'wow, a building that is like moving waves'. But then, you realize that the gimmick of movement is just that: a gimmick. Indeed, a big fat one. Anything worse than a gimmick is a big fat gimmick.

But in an age when Obama is the messiah and gays are saints, I suppose morons can believe anything.

Anonymous said...

"If the modernist disaster didn't happen, the bulk of Manhattan skyscrapers would have now looked like the Municipal Building, the Woolworth Building, the New York Life Building, the Park Row Building."

So, you want everything to look like Moscow University built by Stalin?

http://www.tonypapard.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Moscow-University.jpg

Well, it aint bad, but let's try some new stuff too.

Especially for residential buildings, modernism was great because more glass meant better views. Also, it increased space and light indoors. Old fancy condos and such feel stuffy and have small windows.

Anonymous said...

I must say I like a lot of this stuff. It's looks like a giant AK-47 machine. It has the look of POWER.

David Davenport said...

Compare the evil old Germnania architecture to the very well-intentioned Frist Art Center, staffed by liberal ladies and metrosexuals. which opened in 2001. The Frist's location is about three miles from Nashville's concrete copy of the Parthenon.

fristcenter

VISION

The vision of the Frist Center is to inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways.

MISSION

The mission of the Frist Center is to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities ...


Sure thing.

Anonymous said...

From grey brutalism to green gentrifism.

I guess it's like going from b/w to color film. I kinda like b/w.

Anonymous said...

http://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/magic-marker/

The brutal can be beautiful.

Reg Cæsar said...

Freshmen at Clarkson College of Technology in the 1970s were taught in a leaky concrete Habitrail that might have been made of whatever it was the Who urinated on in that album cover. Googling Clarkson (now Univerity) images produces no trace of that building today. Good news if it's accurate.

Wes Craven taught at Clarkson in the '60s and based some of the setting of Nightmare on Elm Street on his memories of Potsdam. But that building was too scary for the movies, evidently.

Anonymous said...

The cheap, utilitarian approach is to pay an average engineer's salary to your architects and then to reuse their designs thousands of times. That's a description of how public housing projects were built. It has nothing to do with Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers or with starchitects. Big corporate headquarters and luxury apartment buildings are ugly on purpose, in the same way that Gee, you think all buildings should copy the 19th century. The Apes was at UCI Orange County not a liberal place and the OC had a lot of the modern art like the government Zigguart Building.

Anonymous said...

Liberals had their own progressive dream of something like Germania. It was as if the best and brightest understood how the human mind worked, what the workers needed, what young people needed to learn. Though all of this came to be associated with 'fascism' by the New Left, it has its roots in Marxist utopianism and Stalinism. And though people see Freudianism as sexual libertinism, it was as much a means to control people's behavior and minds.
Though 50s is associated with conservatism, the people who came up with new means of law and order, housing, economics, and etc. were mostly liberals, people like John Kenneth Galbraith.
For a time, they even thought Vietnam could be won by rational organizational modern means of combat and management. But just as rational liberal organization got lost in the jungles of Vietnam, the rationalist organizational conceits of post-war liberals came head to head with anarchic energies of the 60s. White liberals thought Negroes could be controlled, elevated, and made middle class. Basic housing This has nothing to do with the UCI Building which was built in conserative Orange County. Granted, UCI being an university is more liberal. In today's world conservatives like the modern buildings since they have a practical and futuristic look while the left wants to go back to the past.

Anonymous said...

"Gehry's scrap metal sheet design is about the ugliest thing I ever did see. "


He's at it again!

Anonymous said...

"Heston believes he's traveled the universe only to discover a planet of humans and environment indistinguishable from our own. What are the chances? Idiot should have figured it out in the first five minutes."

It's allegorical sci-fi satire. Only a fool would approach it from a logical-plausible pov.

Anonymous said...

"You do understand that That Classic White Sculpture Once Had a Paint Job ?"

Yes I know but not everything was painted.
And even if it were, it proves my point for concrete would have to be covered with other colors to look good.

Concrete doesn't look nice.

But I must say brutalism with concrete sort of works because it accepts the brutal quality of concrete itself. It doesn't pretend that concrete is anything but concrete.

Anonymous said...

The Frist Center in Nashville incorporates an old post office building from the early 1930's.

Dennis Dale said...

It's allegorical sci-fi satire.

It is not satire. It's an allegory of race relations, with apes standing in for blacks (I'm sure the negroes appreciated that) in a world turned on its head.
It's earnest, it's ham-handed, it's self-important, but it is not satire.

And anyway, unless your satire is played for laughs, you don't get to throw plausibility out the window as if you're doing broad comedy. Don't piss down my leg and tell me it's raining, and don't give me talking apes and tell me it's social criticism.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the film. Then I turned ten.

"It's people! Soylent Green is people!" Sorry, wrong movie.

SGOTI said...

Brutalism, fields of stark tower blocks, acres of concrete, it's all so depressing and tasteless. It's architecturally posturing that you believe there is nothing bigger in this world than you.

In DC we used to call this monstrosity "Our Lady of the Flakturm" (or Flak Tower depending how military-savvy was our compatriot walking down 16th St.).

Dreadful, soulless, glorifies neither God, nor man, except some pretentious architect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Church_of_Christ,_Scientist_%28Washington,_D.C.%29

DC was particularly infected with this nonsense in the '50s, '60s and '70s. My theory is we got too close to our "enemies" in the Soviet Union, aping them both in style and eventually function, familiarity unfortunately not breeding contempt in Cold War architecture.

David Davenport said...

Yes, the Frist Center was previously Nashville's main post office. Here's a photo of the lobby, which is mostly pre-Frist except for the mirrors:

US Post Office -->Frist lobby

The accompanying blurb says:

Constructed from 1933 to 1934 under the direction of the local architectural firm of Marr & Holman, the building was financed by monies appropriated by Congress during the Hoover administration. Following guidelines from the Office of the Supervising Architect for such public buildings, Nashville’s post office displays both of the most distinctive architectural styles of the period: classicism and Art Deco. ....

Classicism and Art Deco and also very Facist-looking eagles guarding the tops of the doorways to the original front of the building.

look for the Adlers/eagles

The bare, white plaza is a remodelling job the Frist-ers did to the back of the old post office.

The Post Office was, I believe, completed under the Left-leaning, proto-welfare-stateist mgmt. of Pres. Frankenfurter D. #oosevelt's Works Progress Administration.

The New Deal's W.P.A. did indeed have shovel ready jobs, unlike the present regime. They built that building in two years? I wonder how much time would be needed to build the same building now.

//////////////////////////////////

Correction: I think attended a Geert Wilders speech in 2007, instead of three years ago ... ancient days, aging brain.

Anonymous said...

The brutalist have won me over. I had never heard the term before, but after browsing some images, I realized that I've been in many brutal structures and I never felt the least bit alienated, absurd, imprisoned, etc. I like the thick walls and the way the window trim is formed by the concrete, it reminds me of the typical thick-walled European cottage. When my father first came to the America, he couldn't sleep the first few nights because he was concerned about being in a wood-framed house with electricity running through it and smokers residing within.

If the Twin Towers were a little more "brutal" they might still be standing.

Anonymous said...

"It is not satire. It's an allegory of race relations, with apes standing in for blacks (I'm sure the negroes appreciated that) in a world turned on its head.
It's earnest, it's ham-handed, it's self-important, but it is not satire."

It is satire. Satire doesn't have to be ha-ha funny. Orwell's 1984 is grim, but it too is considered satire. People think satire is political comedy, but not so.

But if you associate satire with funny stuff, POTA is a very funny movie that constantly winks at you.
'Human see, human do'.
The eulogy at the funeral of the gorilla is hilarious.
And how the the 'see no hear, hear no evil, and speak no evil' pose by the ape judges?

And the apes were not meant to be blacks in the first one. That was more the case with CONQUEST and BATTLE.
In the first movie, the three types of apes stand for different social types: chimps, rational intellectuals. Orangutans, conservatives and theologians. gorillas, the militarist and menial.

The whole movie is a satire on religion vs science, the generation gap of the 60s(as when Taylor tells young Lucius not to trust anyone over 30 or something like it), treatment of animals(with humans in animal shoes), American adventurism/imperialism and individualism, etc.

It's pop satire in Twilight Zone mode.

Anonymous said...

"Gehry's scrap metal sheet design is about the ugliest thing I ever did see. "


"He's at it again!"

That doesn't look so bad because most of it's covered by green grass.

I say all of Gehry's work should be similarly covered with dirt and grass. Then, I would like them.

Anonymous said...

Is there something like marbrete? It's concrete but when it dries, it looks like marble or some other good stuff.

Anonymous said...


"Hey, I like it is look more 21st century than the buildings today. Buildings don't have to looked 19th centuriezed for me. Republicans like the future look while Democratics like buildings and trains and so forth from the past."

That is because most Republicans are not traditionalists, and have no sense of artistry. They are the same people that have no problem worshiping in an ugly off-white auditorium. Anyway, additionally only a minority of Democrats (hipsters types, old school Dems) even like the pseudo 19th century look. Most tend to prefer various versions of the Ikea vibe.

Anonymous said...

"Hey, I like it is look more 21st century than the buildings today. Buildings don't have to looked 19th centuriezed for me. Republicans like the future look while Democratics like buildings and trains and so forth from the past."

Republicans like the sports stadium look and the Walmart look.
Lots of churches look like megamalls.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see planet of the hogs where pig-men rule the earth and eat the disgusting humans who'd once committed the hogocaust.

Anonymous said...

Amcient Greek and Roman architeture was beyond beatiful but tehen came the Dark Ages of Christianity...

Maybe after you learn to spell you can educate yourself on some of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

David said...

Low-budget filmmakers hate, hate, hate those happy little trees.

Anonymous said...

"Republicans like the sports stadium look and the Walmart look.
Lots of churches look like megamalls."

Conservatives never lobby for new stadiums, especially ones built with tax dollars. I think the brutalist style complements the monastic ascetic tradition. Here is some support for my point of view.

David said...

>Wes Craven taught at Clarkson in the '60s and based some of the setting of Nightmare on Elm Street on his memories of Potsdam. But that building was too scary for the movies, evidently.<

Every generation is frightened at birth by the previous generation's architecture. The children of the late Victorian age had nightmares about basements and gazebos and dirty doo-dads and twisted stairways crushing them in boxes within boxes; the houses were redolent of bad dreams of Poe-style torture chambers. Their children built "clean, simple, logical, people's" bldgs, no religious gee-gaws. The children of these people had nightmares about progressive nursery school teachers (with Nurse Ratched faces) pursuing them across meaningless graffit-ied-up Picassoite expanses in an appalling Brezhnevian twilight, reeking of broken toilets and broken spirits.

There is something ugly in every style of architecture. I used to like Frank Lloyd Wright. Then I showed my ex-wife photos of some FLW interiors. Her response: "Ugh - Brady Bunch!"

And now for some Just-So. Our cave-dwelling ancestors probably had much foliage around their dwellings. Happy little trees covering everything, maybe even Moloch. We would be more relaxed just sinking everything behind trees, my friends. (Most older posh neighborhoods back east might as well be in the Black Forest, for example.)

Anonymous said...

Her response: "Ugh - Brady Bunch!"

When I was a kid, I used to watch BRADY BUNCH as fantasy of living in a dream house in a dream community.

If you're stuck in some public city school with lots of 'diversity', you think like that.

City is a great place to live if you got the dough. Otherwise, white suburbs!

David Davenport said...

I had never heard the term before, but after browsing some images, I realized that I've been in many brutal structures and I never felt the least bit alienated, absurd, imprisoned, etc. I like the thick walls and the way the window trim is formed by the concrete, it reminds me of the typical thick-walled European cottage.

Or maybe one these thick-walled structures on the French coast?

Battery(s) Todt

U-boat pens

I think the brutalist style complements the monastic ascetic tradition. Here is some support for my point of view.

Sorry, but I don't see anything evocative of Christian monasticism in that Le Corb building.

Compare Le Corb's work to these pics of Soviet Brutalist architecture. I think the brutalist style complements the Stalinist Communist tradition. Here is some support for my point of view: The Beauty of Soviet Brutalism

Most tend to prefer various versions of the Ikea vibe.

Is that remark supposed to flatter Democrats?

Anonymous said...

"We would be more relaxed just sinking everything behind trees, my friends. (Most older posh neighborhoods back east might as well be in the Black Forest, for example"

The inside of old cathedrals are oak groves in stone.

Anonymous said...

"UC Santa Cruz has some gorgeous architecture, though it's overshadowed by being sited on one of the most spectacular locations in California if not the planet."


Yep, now... but the original Applied Sciences building, one of the first buildings built on the UCSC campus during the 60s, is very, very much a Stalinist cement bunker. In this side view, presenting it in a good light, you can almost see the anti-tank cannon barrels poking out of the gun-slits*&^%windows:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BaskEng1Plaza.JPG

Would this place in an "ugliest campus building ever contest" or what?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate some aspects of brutalism, however, i concede most of it is ridiculously ugly. But I don't think the crystal skyscrapers like the Bank of America Tower near Bryant Park are any better. They look fragile and flimsy, held together by mullions, clips and chalk. I know I'd be running for the elevator if a tornado, earthquake or hurricane were forecasted.
I can endure just about anything except a rococo concert hall- I can't handle that kind of sensory overload.

Anonymous said...

What was I thinking? There is no monastic influence in brutalism.

Anonymous said...


"Most tend to prefer various versions of the Ikea vibe.

Is that remark supposed to flatter Democrats?"

Definitely not. Why would it? I like beauty.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


"It's paradoxical that nothing looks more dated than old sci-fi movies."

Perhaps the more cheezy low budget sci fi movies had it right with the baldness and one piece jump suit..

Dr Van Nostrand said...


I think sci fi movies get dystopias right more than often in terms of set design atleast.

Terry Gilliams Brazil envisioned that Stalinist monstrosities that enveloped London(especially after the Nazi bombings) and other major cities.

As for Blade Runner ,sure we dont have flying cars and Atari and Pan AM are no longer bywords for corporate behemoths but the density,squalor,pollution ,despair,nouveau riche and intrusive police state of heavily Asian 2019 LA does seem to be rather prescient though more about Beijing and Shanghai than an average American metropolis.

Terry Rawlings and Mark Stetson interestingly were very much inspired by the Hong Kong skyline of that era.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


What if Italians had founded America..

Libya

What is Japanese had founded America...

Hawaii

What if Russians had founded America...

Alaska

What if Greeks had founded America...

Well if you look at the debt and government spending,you do wonder...yuk yuk!

What if Spanish had founded America...

Any Spanish speaking country in the New World

What if Turks had founded America...

Native Americans would be referred to as reservation dwelling Turks.Anyway Turks had enough troubles settling Turkey during that time.

What if Chinese had founded America...

No need to -they own it now

What if Iranians had founded America...

Beverly Hills and other parts of LA

What if Arabs had founded America...

Which ones? Syrians/Lebanese Christians or the "others" .Fortunately the Spanish edict of 1492 forbade Muslims from exploring or settling the New World.
As for the former....not all that different I suppose from Chile,Ecuador and Argentina etc( the whiter Spanish countries) where dominate government and business.
Their ancestors had created another trading colony which gave Rome no small amount of grief

What if Congolese had founded American...

Inner cities..

Anonymous said...

"Yep, now... but the original Applied Sciences building, one of the first buildings built on the UCSC campus during the 60s, is very, very much a Stalinist cement bunker. In this side view, presenting it in a good light, you can almost see the anti-tank cannon barrels poking out of the gun-slits*&^%windows:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BaskEng1Plaza.JPG

Would this place in an "ugliest campus building ever contest" or what?"

I made out with a really hot chem major in that building, so it will always be beautiful to me.

Anonymous said...

What if Americans had founded America?

David said...

From Orson Welles's version of Kafka's "The Trial." Note the architecture throughout. (Bad print but a good excerpt for our purposes.)

Anonymous said...

THIRD MAN has one of the most striking use of architecture.

As does Lang's M.

And Kubrick's THE KILLING.

Because criminals have to be ever so mindful of where they hide and do business, every detail becomes more charged with significance. And because lawmen must map out the area and find a way to trap the bad guy, the architecture becomes a maze in a cat-and-mouse game.
This is especially true in the big city where most people are faceless anonyms and don't know one another.

Kurosawa's HIGH AND LOW belongs in this category too. And TOUCH OF EVIL by Welles.

And Wajda's KANAL is something special.
WAR MOVIES are also interesting in terms of architecture. Soldiers not only use buildings as shelters, bunkers, and hide outs, but they are as often blowing them up and hiding behind them. Like in FULL METAL JACKET. I think Kubrick was attracted to the material because it involved urban warfare. Kubrick loved mazes and structures, and would likely have been less interested in a Vietnam War movie taking place in a jungle.
The sniper scene at the end is all about using obstacles and mazes as weapons of combat.

Anonymous said...

Hitchcock's movies have interesting use of architecture.

ROPE takes place entirely in one room.

The drama of REAR WINDOW is really in the spaces between the apartments.

Or consider how the camera separates the one hotel from the rest of the city in the opening scene of PSYCHO. And how the Bates Motel is both connected to and separated from the Bates house.

Anonymous said...

I can't shake this thread - the subject is renting space in my head.

I just can't believe that so many brilliant, inspired and good-intentioned architects produced something that should be considered an unmitigated evil. When I was a kid almost everything considered new was somewhat brutalist and I thought it was very cool, it didn't evoke any kind of Clockwork Orange inspired feelings of terror, and yes, I had seen the movie.

I'm still gleaning the web for positive references to the style, though I admit it is slim pickings:

"Yet the style isn’t all bad. Says the website for Christ Church Episcopal: “Its simple, plain interior is reminiscent of the stark early Christian basilicas, and its modernity is an affirmation of spiritual life in an atomic age.”

The blurb under this video includes the text,"Strangely enough a lot of churches also adopted this style."

The most beautiful components of brutalism seem to be the ceilings, that is probably part of the reason for the style's adoption by churches. I don't think even the most ardent hater can say they were unimpressed when they first saw DC's Metro.