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Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies [Paperback]

Donald Albrecht

Price: CDN$ 32.83 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

April 2001 Architecture and Film (Book 2)
A thorough examination of the almost symbiotic relationship between modernist architecture and film design of the 1920s and 1930s. Albrecht traces the connections between film designers' art and its roots in European design movements, such as Art Deco and the Bauhaus. The penthouses, nightclubs, and skyscrapers that showed moviegoers a new way of living demanded a new look, which these architectural movements provided. DESIGNING DREAMS concludes with an essential chapter on The Fountainhead, modernist architecture's last fervid gasp in the movies. Illustrated with rare stills from classic films.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Hennessey & Ingalls (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940512262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940512269
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 20.4 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,342,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Modernism Became International Sept. 7 2005
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Modernism and commercial cinema were both born at the turn of the century and came into maturity in the 1920's and 1930's. In his book "Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies", Donald Albrech explains how the futuristic theories of modernism were incorporated into movies.

Albrecht begins his book with a quick overview of modernist thought as it was developing in Europe in the years following the First World War. He then moves onto how these radical new ideas were embraced by the French and German film industry of the 1920's. With the rise of facism, many of Europe great modernist artists and architects fled Europe and found a new home in the booming Hollywood film industry.

The section of the that I found most interesting was Albrect's description of modernist styles favored by the different American movie studios. From the Bauhaus modernism of Paramount to the Streamline Modernism of MGM, Hollywood was an enthusiastic and early adopter of modernist tenants. In Depression era United States, modernism was harbinger of a new and better age to come.

This book is filled with numerous photos of stage sets from the 1920's and 1930's. It is a pleasure to see these idealized versions of the modernist credo. By 1931, Philip Johnson could have a museum show in New York and herald the rise of a new "International Style" of architecture. The value of this book is that it shows how cinema was the perfect incubtor and then spreader of modernist architectural thought througout the world. A must have book for all those interested in the birth and spread of modernism.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference on Modernism and the development of 'Futuristic' architecture Aug. 18 2005
By Miguel Ali - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Albrecht has provided us with an excellent historical overview, upon the development of modernism within architecture, and how movies helped to showcase an art form that symbolized, not only futuristic looks, but optimism through progress.

At first, I was confused by Albrecht's introductory chapters, because they were all spent talking about the development of modernism. However, I started to see the matching patterns between all the chapters, towards the end of the book. In creating a look of modernism, the beginning of the book talks about the number of artists and architects who developed a vision of modernist architecture, as their ideas and designs were always tested against each others at various world fairs and conventions entitled `Progress of the Future.'

What was neat though was that, later on in the book, Albrecht spoke of the filmmakers who would take on futuristic movies, and how they would have to predict what the future of the world would look like by thinking about how society would change, what transportation would be like, what would happen to social classes, etc. Interestingly enough though, Albrecht also speaks of the designers who, while they made present day films, were always trying to predict the future too, by showcasing the latest in women's fashions and newest developments in interior design. Considering that movies, back then, would have to travel the nation rather than be released all at once, producers had the pressure of making a product that could withstand a shelf life of one to two full years.

In turn, what I took away from Albrecht was that, in order to design dreams, we as filmmakers must always think ahead into the future. The movies of the 1930s and beyond were winners because they showcased a wonderful future to its audiences by giving them the latest insights into fashion and interior design. Those filmmakers who created fantasy films were challenged, on the other hand, to show what our cities would truly evolve into. Like the architects who created modernism itself, all designers are responsible for predicting the future, to some extent.

Lastly, I was greatly taken in by the idea of how modernism was created. It seems like its creators wanted to create a look of architecture that would blend in perfectly with paved roads, steel cars, and concrete highways. After all, Victorian and Classical structures simply would not fit in with the modern creations of the Industrial Revolution.

Therefore, those architects challenged themselves to visualize what a future world would look like, and thus, moderism was born. In turn, to me at least, modernism is not about concrete walls and minimalist looks - but rather, it is a constant attempt to accommodate for what humankind will need in the future, rather than to conform it to a style that worked in the past. Albrecht's book communicated that idea to me perfectly.

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