Film architecture is created in film studios, places on the fringe of reality. Anything that is built is usually only present in part, and made of impermanent materials. Perhaps it should be called cineplastique. It is a dynamic and constantly transforming architecture, in contrast to the architectural traditions of the real world. Using architectural fragments, models, back projections, mirror tricks, painted backdrops, large-format photographs and virtually generated settings creates this unique world. It is sometimes enough to tell a story if it is simply linked with a building, like the Bates Motel in Psycho or the German fortress in La grande illusion. Yet however near, however tangible film architecture ultimately may seem, it also remains vague, fleeting, and a mere impression. They are projections of dream spaces, designed, shaped and built in a film architect's workshop. As Wolfgang Jacobsen points out, "film is a laboratory of modernism. Film architecture is a laboratory of film modernism." And as an architect, I must confess that I find it more dazzling, more influential, and without doubt more dramatic than real architecture.
From Vincente Minnelli's Bells Are Ringing (1960); art direction by Preston Ames and George W. Davis.