Brutalism in Film: Blade Runner 2049
BRUTALISM is an architectural style that flourished from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. “Béton brut” is translated from French as “raw concrete” and spoke to the exposed concrete construction as the main component to Brutalist architecture.
In the history of film, Brutalism is often associated with a dystopian future no matter what year the film was made. From Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) to Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise (2015), the visual aesthetics have remained the same for over 45 years.
The socialist and communist governments of Cold War Europe have also created hundreds of government buildings, scientific laboratories, sports arenas and institutes in this highly distinctive style. Many remain abandoned today but you would never know as their exteriors look as rough and raw as the day they were built.
Director Denis Villeneuve chose to embrace Brutalism as a representation of Los Angeles and Las Vegas for his film BLADE RUNNER 2049. DP Roger Deakins studied and visited several buildings in London for inspiration.
Architectural critic Reyner Banham described the 3 criteria for Brutalism as:
‘IN ORDER TO BE BRUTALIST, A BUILDING HAS TO MEET THREE CRITERIA, NAMELY THE CLEAR EXHIBITION OF STRUCTURE, THE VALUATION OF MATERIALS “AS FOUND” AND MEMORABILITY AS IMAGE.’