4 Films Where Climate Change Affects Cities and Landscapes

4 Films Where Climate Change Affects Cities and Landscapes

Architecture enjoys a close connection with moving picture, perhaps because of the limitless imagination it allows. Our mind can be taken far away to utopian worlds where we live different realities with our eyes and skin; movies can carry us to new and distant places, where we face new unusual realities.

However, besides carrying us to distant places, movies can also be a vehicle of social criticism. This is not news, as it has been done for almost as long as cinema has existed. The evolution of this role is relative to the topic of critique that has developed over time, as have our habits and ways of living. In this sense, one of the most emerging problematic of nowadays is climate change.from architecture to arts and, clearly, the movies.

That is the reason why we present four movies that approaches the climate crisis problem confronting architecture, be it city or landscape.

The Day After Tomorrow

Frozen New York. Image: screenshot of the movie

Based on the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, the film depicts catastrophic climatic effects following the disruption of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation. The result is a series of extreme weather events that usher in global cooling and, finally, a new ice age. The iconic urban landscape of New York City is totally devastated by the tides and then by ice, showing a terrifying fictional reality that seems less and less exaggerated and distant.

Watch the trailer.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Water is scarce, so it is synonym of power in Mad Max. Image: screenshot of the movie

The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic desert where petrol and water are scarce commodities. The plot follows Max Rockatansky and Imperator Furiosa in their escape from the leader Immortan Joe and his army, that pursue the protagonists in an armored tanker truck, leading to a lengthy road battle. Although the movie story focuses on the energy crisis, the water scarcity and the endless and dystopian desert landscape bring the plot closer to the climate problem.

Watch the trailer.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Louisiana community after the storm. Image: screenshot of the movie

The film tells the story of Hushpuppy, a 6-year-old girl, and her father in a poor community of Louisiana, a region of United States raged by storms and hurricanes. The movie uses metaphors and fanciful elements – the great beasts that embody the melting ice caps and the increase of storms in that region – in order to address the representation problem of the climatic crisis and environmental emergency.

Watch the trailer.


The frosty landscapes that the train keeps track of on its journey. Image: screenshot of the movie

The movie takes place aboard the Snowpiercer train, operating on a globe-spanning track, carrying the last remnants of humanity after a failed attempt of climate engineering, that aimed to stop global warming but instead has created a new Snowball Earth. Inside the high speed train, a rigid society divided in classes is engulfed by a revolution headed by the lower-class tail section passengers against the elite of the front of the train.

Watch the trailer.

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Cite: Baratto, Romullo. "4 Films Where Climate Change Affects Cities and Landscapes" [4 Filmes que confrontam cidades e paisagens com a crise climática] 07 Feb 2020. ArchDaily. (Trans. Peixoto Almeida, Amanda) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/931722/4-films-where-climate-change-affects-cities-and-landscapes> ISSN 0719-8884

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