Cinema has paid few but significant visits to Milan and its architecture. In the history of Italian cinema set in Milan, from the post-war period to this day, squares and streets, as well as historical buildings and contemporary architecture, play the lead.
From neorealist classics such as Miracolo a Milano and Rocco e I suoi fratelli, through to Totò, Peppino e la Malafemmina and Antonioni’s, La Notte or the more recent Io sono l’amore and Fame chimica, the city has been represented through its most symbolic places, such as Piazza Duomo and the Central Station, but also through the city’s modern icons such as the Pirelli Skyscraper and Villa Necchi.
“Perhaps the profession that most closely resembles that of the architect, is that of the film director. Both hold exceptionally similar values; both essentially aim at preserving the story they want to tell (and the way they want to tell it) as close to the original intention as possible during the journey from ideation to production.
In the process, both manage producers and clients and coordinate the various professional figures involved in the realization of the project. The time between ideation and production can span several years due to delays, indecision and changes of mind, as was the case for many movies that changed the history of cinema. In this time, the project may undergo significant changes, including changes of budget, of cast and of the decision makers involved. Director and architect share a vocation to combine technique and logic, vision and aesthetic.
Cinema is ever-present in our life and our education: cinematic narration allows us to better grasp the expressive quality of landscapes and buildings. The passion for cinema has significantly impacted our general visual education and our awareness of the symbolic value of architecture. Cinematic representation, unlike photography, allows us to enter the architectural entity and to experience it in both space and time.
But if architecture documentaries are the best medium to narrate the construction process and the building site, and later to explore the different spaces and functions of a building, it is within narrative cinema that the emotional and symbolic relations which architecture creates can be told.Wheter it consists of real buildings and locations, or of scenographies tailr-made to serve storytelling needs, architecture takes on a central role in cinema.
As architects are often seen as the ‘directors’ of the building process, since our job sets off the same dynamics as cinematic construction. It is through the intertwining of structural similarities that we asked ourselves which type of montage, which cinematic ‘structure’ would best mirror the rationale behind our exploration of the boundless world of cinema. We created three stories by piecing together film sequences that shared a common theme and could therefore sustain a coherent narration: a multiform kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, landscapes, architecture, emotions. The three fields of enquiry draw on worlds that differ by their representative scale and their emotional code: the city and its transformation (Milan), iconic architecture and its symbolic use in cinematic representation; boundaries as metaphors of portals or obstacles between two worlds. The representative scale take on different configurations each time and guides viewers from subtly ironic scenes to dramatic narrative sequences.
To set off this process we drew on a formula already used by our colleagues at AIR3 (Italian Directors Association), who periodically choose, through online discussions, specific cinematic themes to celebrate. In 2018, Air3 Cinema Club screened the best music videos of 2017, as well as the best car chases, and the most iconic movie sequences about drugs and about the students’ and workers’ protest movement of 1968. With their help, we selected stories that, filtered through our memories and experiences, evoked and probed the three themes proposed. The movie sequences, chosen from a long list of suggestions, were first visualized in random order, then compiled into a coherent, selective index, and finally arranged into a linear, almost documentary-like montage, but also a sentimental one, which combines extremely niche cult films with iconic, unforgettable movie sequences, because cinema, just like architecture, is made of painstaking research, grat visions and imaginary worlds.”
Filippo Pagliani, Michele rossi