Films & Architecture: “Equilibrium”

Equilibrium shows a city of the future where all feelings have been suppressed in order to avoid war. Any means of expression that could urge a sensorial response is censored and terminated. Diversity and free thinking have been replaced by uniformity and an unquestionable authority of a “Father”, who guides lives in this new society. The entire city organization is prepared for accommodating spaces needed by the administration, including public space for citizens to congregate, and several kinds of facilities for control.

Do you think we could deal with this kind of cities in the future, or maybe they already exist? As always, we wait for you to enjoy it and let us know your thoughts in comments.


Original Title: Equilibrium
Year: 2002
Runtime: 107 min.
Country: United States, Germany
Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Soundtrack: Klaus Badelt
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Cast: , Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, Christian Kahrmann, John Keogh, Sean Pertwee, William Fichtner, Angus Macfayde


At the end of World War III, the world fell under the control of Father and the Tetragrammaton: a government that outlaws all forms of art and emotion. Citizens are forced to take drugs that eliminate emotions. However, “Sense Offenders”: citizens who resist the laws and operate underground are continually at war with the Tetragrammaton. John Preston is a Cleric, an elite super-soldier who’s mission is to hunt down and eliminate Sense Offenders with the help of a ruthless police force.

One day, Preston accidentally breaks his morning dose of emotion suppressant drug and begins to feel. Soon, he begins sympathizing with the Sense Offenders and begins to understand the beauty of feeling… A beauty that the government, in which Preston spent his life serving, would like to see destroyed


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Previously posted on this section…

Cite: Portilla, Daniel. "Films & Architecture: “Equilibrium”" 26 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>

    This is from 2002? I had never seen or even heard of this film! One of the absolute best architectural sets for a movie has to be Aeon Flux. Set in Germany – mostly in Berlin – the architecture is modernist but within the context of the film and fashion, it feels totally futuristic. Check out some scenes here:

  • J.Pablo

    It’s basically an update of George Orwell’s 1984, with Matrix-style gunfights combined with punches. Cool fights anyway, but not much of an totalitarian original aesthetic architectural vision…Just my opinion.

  • Robert

    It is an interesting question from the standpoint of public space. In this movie there is public space created by the government as an embodiment of control and the public space created by the public themselves as the resistance made small scale use of the abandoned areas they inhabit.


    A relevant quote from a recent ArchDaily post:

    Žižek suggests that the environment of the workplace has been twisted, using architectural devices, to manipulate employees. Kitchens, ‘break-out spaces’, lounges, free food, free coffee – he postulates that this is a postmodern sleight of hand designed to manipulate and disarm staff. By fabricating the illusion of employer as friend, the employed is denied the opportunity to protest, argue, fight, be adversarial and demand more of their working conditions. These informal spaces are political spaces of control, surveillance and manipulation.

  • Rob

    Gun-Kata, the fighting style in this movie, is the highlight. The architecture is same old same old totalitarian dystopia fare. Come for the gun fights stay for the clichés.

    Monolithic Minimalist Bauhaus meets wealthy Iron Curtain specials.

  • vlad

    Would like to see the “never-built ” house from “Ghost writer”

  • F.T

    Same. Actualy, I loved all the movies you presented. But, I think a lot of movies are “must have” and a lot more interesting than Equilibrium.

    THX 1138 ?

  • Mason

    Actually the architecture of the city in the movie is more or less directly taken from Hugh Ferriss’s “Metropolis of Tomorrow,” published in 1929. It is the same book that inspired Gotham City in Batman and the city-planet of Coruscant in Star Wars.

  • Kim Ngoc

    In Time was more interesting than this piece of retro metropolis. Architecture is as well the rythme of space and time in built form, the proportion of movement in space.

  • Isabel Cachinho

    Excellent movie!! Thanks for all your posts!!

    But… What about “Inception”?!… I think there should a post for this one too.
    And “Ghost Writer”!! Both good movies, good plots and great architecture!

    Am I the only one thinking so?… :)

    • Daniel Portilla

      They’re both part of the list. ;)

  • akid

    We just read Aldous Huxleyś Brave new world in school at that time and the movie has strong elements from that book. Cross in T shape, similar drugs, human behavior itc.

  • AY

    A gem of a movie! One of the greatest scenes is when Bale wakes up for the first time while feeling, and sees the city in the morning light. To me, it suggests that emotion is never induced, but summoned, and that perception has the power to animate the most “totalitarian” of environments and to neglect the most profound of beauties.

  • F.

    BS movie, only a “1984″ ripoff mixed with metropolis, however i would understand that people would like the movie if they never read the book.