Changing Icons: The Symbols of New York City in Film
Terri Meyer Boake
- Images of icons/monuments have come to represent a city.
- City as 1: subject, 2: set and 3: star (in the 1930’s and the skyscraper boom)
- “[The] Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building quickly gave way to the World Trade Towers shortly after their completion in 1973.” p.2
- A common strategy in film is to use the actual skyline is used as key identifier of place
- “During this transitional period in film – pre CGI – many films explored the ‘noire’ or ‘dystopic’ theme, whose dark hue allowed for fairly seamless amalgamation between location, matte, set, and model views, in spite of technical deficiencies.” p.4
- The Fifth Element (1989) New York skyline characterised by high density, tall buildings and low sea levels
- 9/11 – voluntary building censorship in film!
- There was a temporary pause in the destruction of modern buildings in Hollywood post 9/11.
Defying Gravity: Space Architecture in Film Environments - An Opportunity Lost
Terri Meyer Boake
- “Film gives us the rare opportunity to completely question all that has come to be accepted in terms of the language of architecture as well as cultural and historic convention.” p.1
- “Architectural education can use these films as vehicles for critical discussion of the ethos of these environments.” p.1
- Film spaces do not have to be realistic and are not obliged to possess a conscience.
- Set design has evolved with scientific discovery and the option of adhering to or ignoring it.
- Film has “allowed increased understanding and appreciation of the realistic, three-dimensional occupation of architectural and urban spaces.” p.1 (Not only reconstructions – visionary and imaginary places too!)
- “Simply by turning relationships ‘upside down’, let alone removing the force of gravity, begs us to question the logic behind everything that we can see. This is what the medium of film frees designers to explore.” p.2
- “The creation of visionary works of art and architecture often arises at times when cultural, political or technological influences impose restrictions on creative works.” p.3
- The higher degree of scientific accuracy in films in the 60’s can be explained by the media hype surrounding the space race. Scientific credibility later receded.
- Animated sequences now make up up to 75% of set in futuristic films. p.5
- “But whether or not the concept artist has received accredited training in architectural design, this does not stop the worlds that they create from influencing both the perception and the reality of design and fashion.” p.6
- Hugh Ferris – Gotham City (Dietrich Neumann)
- Art Deco highly influential: from Metropolis to Star Wars
- “Contemporary society looks to film for entertainment, not education. The fleeting time of scientific realism in this film genre took place when there was much optimism about the ‘space race’.” p.8
Psychological Preparedness for Disaster
Pearl S. Guterman
- How can we prepare psychologically for a disaster? Only through using accurate data/information about actual behaviour to educate using facts. Films often get it wrong.
- There is a difference in reactions to natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
- “Terrorist attacks are unlawful, deliberate, sociopolitical acts, carried out through force, violence, or intimidation, by an individual or group. […] Moreover, terrorists use terror as a psychological weapon. Natural disasters, however, are asocial events that are caused by the forces of nature. Such events may be exacerbated by human actions, but they are due to error rather than ill intent.” p.2
- There are three types of disasters: emergencies, disasters and catastrophes. These categories are all based on the individual experience. One person’s emergency is another one’s catastrophe.
- Disasters have five key characteristics:
1: Damage to persons/property and loss of life
2: Adverse affects on large population
3: Outside the realm of everyday experience
4: Traumatic enough to cause most people stress
5: Time limited
- Disasters can also bring feeling of national pride and unity.
- Misconceptions: Panic Flight, Disaster Shock, Evacuation Behaviour and Shelter Use. People (mostly) do not panic. They will not be dazed and disorientated because of shock, but exhaustion. People will not flee in panic and overcrowd public shelters. They generally behave logically and help each other.
-“When disaster strikes, individuals, companies, and responders should not only be logistically ready, but psychologically prepared. How well one psychologically prepares for an event can have a bearing on the success of response and recovery efforts. Therefore, it is vital that psychological preparedness be factored into emergency plans.” p.14
- Reference to Auf der Heide’s essay ‘Common misperceptions about disasters: panic, the “disaster syndrome,” and looting’
Filming the Unfilmable: Hollywood’s Attempts To Chronicle 9/11
Saki Knafo, Huffington Post
- Al Qaeda planning to blow up ‘the bridge in the Godzilla movie’. (as told by prisoner in interview)
- Film important in the planning of attacks
- Young Bin Laden allegedly liked the film Bonanza.
- Disaster films portray one man alone in a chaotic world. Al Qaeda views our world this way. They are the one, lonely man. The Western world is chaotic and must be fought.
- “Hollywood had fertilized the imaginations of the attackers.” The WTC attack was similar to a Hollywood spectacle.
- Hollywood has mostly been ignoring 9/11. Is it hard to compete since the actual footage has already been shown on screen so many times before?
- Post 9/11: rise in popularity of documentaries “interpretation, explanation and meaning”.
- “Those images were already seared in our minds. The terrorists had planned it that way.” (Knafo on the absence of footage of planes hitting buildings in films and documentaries post 9/11)
An Event Like a Movie? Hollywood and 9/11
- That 9/11 seemed like a Hollywood disaster film is a common claim.
- Hollywood films were put on hold, altered or even cancelled as a result of the attacks, attacks that were inspired by cinema, attacks with effects like cinema. Original footage of the event has now been included in Hollywood films and shown in the cinema.
- Media coverage of the event was brutal, uncensored and troublesome, especially for relatives.
- The image of the attacks looked like a Die Hard film poster, as commented by director Steve de Souza.
- 9/11 reference to film could be caused by people having nothing else to fall back on when faced by such apocalyptic scenery.
- “The use of like a movie hints at a psychological need to resort back to movie experience. Possibly, this strategy of cinematic vision enabled […] eyewitnesses to distance themselves from the events and thereby ward off part of the traumatic impact of the witnessed scenes.” p.1
- Immanuel Kant on the Sublime: “a feeling that upsurges when human beings are witness to a catastrophe from afar, without being in actual danger.” p.1
- Baudrillard – American hyperreality – influenced images/ideas about global terrorism
- “the American under attack rises up and eventually defeats the perpetrator. Catharsis is offered via a successful hunt for the terrorists and a victory of the American hero.” p.3
- Analysis/comparison of Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and Oliver Stone’s WTC.
- “For almost five years, American movie directors refrained from reenacting the events of the day of the attacks.” p.4
What Your Brain Does in an Emergency
Lucy Tobin, The Guardian
- Ed Galea
- Science and psychology: how the brain functions in disasters
- Do people behave differently in different countries/cultures? (Example of Korea where people sat still awaiting instructions from authority figures instead of escaping burning train)
- Left handed and right handed people behave differently, as do people who drive on the left versus right hand side of the road.
- Generally, a good situational awareness is important, to understand the environment you are in.
- Hollywood gets behaviour wrong a lot of the time. 99 times out of 100 people remain calm and behave rationally. People tend to help each other.
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Boake, T.M. (2008) Changing Icons: The Symbols of New York City in Film. [online] Available at: http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/faculty_projects/terri/pdf/research_papers/empire-vs-wtc.pdf [accessed 20 June 2012]
Boake, T.M. (2008) Defying Gravity: Space Architecture in Film Environments - An Opportunity Lost. [online] Available at: http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/faculty_projects/terri/pdf/research_papers/gravity2008.pdf [accessed 20 June 2012]
Guterman, P.S. (2005) Psychological Preparedness for Disaster. Academia.edu. [online] Available at: http://yorku.academia.edu/PearlGuterman/Papers/169408/Psychological_preparedness_for_disaster [accessed 22 June 2012]
Knafo, S. (2011) Filming the Unfilmable: Hollywood’s Attempts To Chronicle 9/11. Huffington Post. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/09/911-september-11-movies_n_954149.html [accessed 22 June 2012]
Rickli, C. (2009) An Event Like a Movie? Hollywood and 9/11. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies. [online] Available at: http://copas.uni-regensburg.de/article/view/114/138 [accessed 22 June 2012]
Tobin, L. (2010) What Your Brain Does in an Emergency. The Guardian. [online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/mar/16/disaster-planning-research [accessed 22 June 2012]