Including Film Analysis to Investigate History of Architecture

  • Cecilia Mouat North Carolina State University
Keywords: Historical research, industrial city, cinematic spaces, popular culture, dominant discourses


This paper describes a historical research on architecture and city design basedon film analysis, and suggests that cinema, as the most influential form of popular culture during the first-half of the twentieth century, provides a critical insight into the cultural impact ofboth modernism and industrialization in America and Britain. This research also illuminate show dominant discourses of spaces, rooted in old cultural traditions that condemn the metropolis and celebrate the countryside, were systematically distributed through American and British films produced in the 1930s-60s. This study also suggests that commercial films use modernist spaces to portray places of work and productivity, and modernist buildings to represent the twentieth century’s image of the poor, but rarely as houses of “healthy” families. For the contrary, American and British films represent domestic spaces as cozy houses, recalling a traditional architectural style of small villages inherited from past centuries. This apparent discrepancy between the discourse of design disseminated by design intellectuals,and the discourse promoted by films, illuminates on the one hand how popular culture contributed to the misconception of the Modern movement in architecture; and on the other hand how the notion of community was systematically associated with low-dense neighborhoods and suburbs close to the countryside, and never with metropolitan spaces, dense public spaces and multi-storied buildings.
How to Cite
Mouat, C. (2014). Including Film Analysis to Investigate History of Architecture. ARCC Conference Repository.