Saturday, April 10, 2010

Celluloid Architecture

The Celluloid Architecture
Ehsan Khoshbakht
published: April 2010

The Celluloid Architecture book, written in Farsi, is the result of my long and obsessive studying of film architecture and the meaning of space in motion pictures, during the years that I spent in architecture school. It is a prompt reaction to the needs and necessities of many schools of architecture in Iran, and their most recent interest is cinema as a immense source of inspiration. Now films are studied for the purpose of discovering a more subtle and responsive architecture. My main aim in writing the book - and choosing the other texts, as well - was to switch swiftly from the position of a film scholar to the view of an architect. I tried to keep both point of views in focus, simultaneously.

This anthology, which some parts of it has been written back in 2002, though completely revised, come from a wide range of disciplines. From structural comparison between two medium to an architectural reading of motion picture history. Examining the influence of virtual architecture of film on contemporary scene of architecture and the playfulness that real architecture borrowed from the movies. A section is dedicated to studying the role of architecture , city and landscape in the films of key and architecture-oriented directors (though Jacques Tati is missing in this book, simply because he's the subject of my next book). This text will also help students in understanding the role of major cities in the development of the city film, or let's say mystic city - the one which is invented for the screen - in the different periods of film history. For instance, Berlin and expressionist city, or Paris of the avant-garde, or New York of Hollywood extravaganzas. Hence, I partitioned the book to three sections and 17 chapters within them:

Basic Concepts:
In this part I trace the theories and methods the rest of the book uses, and propose some new ways of looking at the film to interpret the role architecture and the city . In a sense it is a key to threads which run through the chapters.
  • Introduction: The Metaphysical architecture of film [by Ehsan Khoshbakht]
  • An Introduction to Time-Space in Films [by Ehsan Khoshbakht]
  • Spacial experience in architecture and movies [by Juhani Pallasmaa*]

Directors, studio system and architecture:
  • Learning from Hollywood [by Hans Dieter Schaal**]
  • Studio Architecture: Escape by design [by Maggie Valentine]
  • Architecture in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni [by Mitchell Schwarzer]
  • Robert Bresson and the rejection of architecture in transcendental style [by Ehsan Khoshbakht]
  • Hitchcock, architecture, city and Vertigo [by Ehsan Khoshbakht***]

Art Directors, Production Designers and Film Design:
All articles in this section are written by me, except Cedric Gibbons which is written by Christina Wilson.

  • From architecture in motion pictures to architects of motion pictures: A history of design in films
  • Cedric Gibbons
  • Alexandre Trauner
  • Ken Adam
  • Henry Bumstead
  • Richard Sylbert
  • Dante Ferretti
  • Patrizia Von Brandenstein
  • Dean Tavoularis
This book can be read in any order, or as separate sections and as single chapters, though reading in order is recommended.
*All five English language articles, translated into Persian for the first time.
**Thanks to Hans Dieter Schaal for giving me the go ahead to translate his book, Learning from Hollywood.
***Published previously in Honar [art] Monthly.

Product Details:
Paperback: 288 pages (40 pages in color)
Publisher: Kasra Publishing + Herfe Honarmand
Language: Farsi
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches

Design: Ehsan Irannejad
Translators of English articles: Sara Golmakani, Katayon Yousefi

A sample of the pages, index and bibliography is available from the website of my designer/architect friend, Ehsan Irannejad: Look inside!

The Book is dedicated to Michelangelo Antonioni, Jacques Tati and Edward G. Robinson. Please don't ask why Robinson!


  1. I dont have seen your book and I dont know if you have seen " MILLION" directed by "Rene Clair" and it's wonderfull opening scene.I hope to read your book and find something about it's fanthastic function of architecture in this early movie.

  2. There are lot of references to Rene Clair in my book, including "Le Million." I'm a long time admirer of both Clair and Lazare Meerson, Clair's great set designer.

  3. منابعتون برای فصول 2 و 5 و 9 چه کتابها یا مقالاتی بوده؟
    برای رساله ارشدم به این منابع احتیاج دارم.