We are surrounded by architecture, and viewing it through the lens of a camera allows us to better appreciate the subtleties that we would overlook in real life. Movies are made with the viewpoints, views, and backdrop essential for the story in mind, which demonstrates how vital the setting is in every situation. In every part of life, architecture plays a significant role. We’ve compiled a selection of fantastic films with architectural allusions. A few are documentaries on the life of an architect or urban architecture, while others are films with stunning architectural backdrops.

The Grand Budapest Hotel 

The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s film that pays tribute to a bygone era of European splendor. It tells the story of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a prestigious European hotel in the interwar years, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby kid, who becomes his most loyal companion. The plot revolves around the theft and recovery of a valuable Renaissance painting, as well as a struggle for a large family inheritance. In this distinctly non-naturalistic style of filmmaking of Anderson, architecture plays a key part. Almost all of Anderson’s films have a basic framework that the action revolves around. It was a family house in Manhattan in The Royal Tenenbaums and a train that transported American visitors across India in The Darjeeling Limited. According to the advertising banner for The French Dispatch, it will be the newspaper’s offices.

Given that the hotel is largely a metaphor of Monsieur Gustave’s humanitarian way of looking at the world, it is appropriate that it is represented as a concept rather than a reality. The hotel’s outside pictures are small models, and no attempt is made to hide this fact. The abandoned Görlitz Department Store, a sumptuous Art Nouveau edifice erected in 1929, was used for several of the hotel’s interior shots, notably those of the vast lobby.

Movies in which architecture was the main cast member - Sheet1
The grand Budapest Hotel poster_©NYU Local


Christopher Nolan’s science fiction masterpiece Inception was written and directed in the United States. Christopher Nolan’s film does more than just make architecture a prominent element; the whole plot hinges on architects’ power to construct buildings, communities, and cities in other people’s imaginations. Dom Cobb is a gifted thief whose aim is to steal the most valuable secrets by plunging into the subconscious depths while dreaming when the mind is at its most susceptible. Cobb gives us a cause to be curious about the constructed worlds when he tells the young architect Ariadne, “Always dream about new spaces”. Ariadne’s strained subconscious causes some of Paris to feverishly fold in on itself in the same scenario. Architectural settings are becoming more common from this point forward.

Movies in which architecture was the main cast member - Sheet2
Inception_©Rotten Tomatoes


“Parasite” has received nominations for best director, best picture, foreign language film, original screenplay, editing, and production design at the Academy Awards. The film centers around Lee Ha Jun’s production design: the affluent Parks’ opulent minimalist home and the impoverished Kims’ tiny sub-basement flat, two South Korean families whose lives become linked. The architecture also has an impact on the two families’ interactions with sunlight, which is a recurring motif in Bong’s films. “The poorer you are, the less sunlight you have access to, and that’s exactly how it is in real life: you have restricted access to windows,” Lee explains. The Park House was designed to reflect the location of the sun (Ki-woo is blinded by the sun on his first arrival at the house). Its massive glass wall, which the architect planned to maximize the view of the garden, has a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, similar to that of a movie screen.

The contrast with the Kim family’s perspective — where drunks pee outside their bar-covered window and yellow stink bug spray floods the kitchen – could not be greater. The weather is entertainment for the Parks — the sun lights the home, the rain keeps the garden alive – and the wealthy family gathers to enjoy the scene like a Windows screensaver or a gleaming television. In contrast to the Parks, the Kims’ home is threatened by the elements: rain floods and ruins their home.

Movies in which architecture was the main cast member - Sheet3


Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a writer who falls in love with an operating system that is akin to our present digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa. Twombly and Samantha’s complex relationship is shown in the film. The city and apparel design created a plausible future setting, even if it was only in the backdrop. Men were spotted wearing high-waisted pants that were not dissimilar to what is worn in the office now. Public areas are large, open spaces with contemporary furnishings, and transportation places appear to be cleaner and more efficient. Furthermore, future technology has a constant impact on architecture. For all of these reasons, Her is an excellent picture for stimulating discussion on the future of cities and technology.

Movies in which architecture was the main cast member - Sheet4


The traditional architecture of Kashmir may be seen in the backdrop during the gorgeous images of Dal Lake and Haider’s village. Houses in Kashmir are primarily built of wood, but they also have characteristic, pointed roofs that absorb snow. Wooden columns, courtyards, and jaalis built over apertures were all popular architectural characteristics in the area. To construct a dwelling, many locals utilize unburned bricks put in timber frames or earthen walls built on stone plinths. The Martand Sun Temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag area was used to film the song “Bismil”. The main shrine, which is situated in the center of a colonnaded courtyard, is the focal point of the complex. The main shrine is surrounded by 84 lesser shrines. The temple is currently in ruins, but it is assumed that the main shrine had a pyramidal top, which is typical of Kashmiri temples.

Haider poster_©The Guardian


  • 18 Movies that Architects and Architecture Students must watch (archiol.com)
  • How Parasite uses architecture to hammer home its brutal message | WIRED UK
  • 16 Films That Will Inspire Architects and Architecture Lovers (mymodernmet.com)
  • Exterior and Interior Designer | Architectural Review of the Movie by Bong Joon-ho | Surfaces Reporter
  • 8 Architecture Movies Every Architect Should Watch (parametric-architecture.com)

Srishti Dasgupta is currently pursuing Architecture from Mumbai University. Her passion for art initiated her interest in Architecture.The creative field also inspired her to explore various aspects of art and culture. She intends to keep capturing the rationalities of everyday world, integrated with the creative world through different mediums.