Zodiac and the digital cityscape

David Fincher’s classic procedural Zodiac is a movie that takes pride in the reality of its historical setting. Paradoxically that setting, 1970s San Francisco, is recreated through (mainly) digital means. The film harkens back to an analogue era, and an analogue aesthetic, but uses state-of-the-art CGI to accomplish this.


In this video essay for Realtime, Conor Bateman explores the link between the digital cityscapes of Zodiac and those in video games. On a rich and well-researched foundation of critical and academic texts, he builds an argumentation that is both eloquent and nicely translated into audiovisual form. The result is a thought-provoking look at how digital cities in these two art forms affect our experience, at how landmarks guide our orientation, at how technology can serve nostalgia. (Oh, and you should definitely stick around for the post-credits scene).