Brutalism, Architecture, Cars and Batman

Note: This post is over a year old and the content may no longer be accurate.

Yesterday I saw the new Batman film the Dark Knight. All in all I was pretty impressed and I enjoyed it a lot (like my opinion matters…). I was wonderfully old fashioned in many ways epic and operatic, dark and intelligent. I thought that it was very interesting film in a lot of ways, of course there was the whole morality theme, but if you want to find out about that, pick up a paper and read a review; However I am a visual person, so it was the visual aspects that interested me most.

I thought that it was a particularly ‘tight’ film in terms of the design and feel, clearly a lot of thought had gone into this and it hadn’t been wasted. Gotham city is brutal. It is the dark side of the Modernist Project, Post Modernism and wherever we are now haven’t got a look in. Can you imagine a curvey building by Frank Gehry or Richard Rogers (actually not very curvey but full of light and weightlessness)? I can’t. Gotham is a city where the concrete and the grid rule, this is not to say that some of the buildings are not beautiful, because many are.

I’ve noticed a few years ago that as the new model cars appeared they were all more hard edged, straight lined and less curvey than their predecessors, particularly the more expensive vehicles – think Landrovers or BMWs – in short more militaristic, more hard edged designs. I think what makes it more interesting is that for a very long time prior to this, on the whole cars had been gaining curves. Clearly though people right now are in the mood to buy brutal looking cars. Some of the designs are wonderful (at least from a purely aesthetic point of view) – I think some of the smaller BMWs are sublime.

I think these hard edged designs are a direct response to fear and unease in society at large. People want to buy harder looking vehicles because they are fearful and therefore feel the need to project strength, of course good designers produce what thier customers and clients want, and the best the designers do this before their customers know what they want. Of course the biggest, hardest most brutal vehicle of all is the Batmobile.

Back to the film. I remember going to see Starship Troopers at the cinema when it came out, I went along with all my house mates and we illicitly necked a load of beers (or possibly a bottle of vodka (shudder)) and whooped and screamed as we watched the film. I remember the film because it was the first film I consciously saw where you couldn’t tell where the cgi began, of course ten years latter it almost tame. Special effects have just got bigger and better and they have got so big that they don’t really make any impact at all anymore because there is too much to take in.

So does he deserve an Oscar or not?