The future is now: Sci-fi films in real locations

Some science fiction films use real locations more extensively, both to evoke an unfamiliar future and to connect the themes of the film with the world we live in. The effect is often disconcerting and lends itself to the dystopic.

Girl from Monday
The dream-like photography in the 2005 film "The Girl from Monday" is anchored in real-world locations in Manhattan and Jersey City.

The modern science-fiction film is synonymous with CGI wizardry, clever gadgets, and elaborate sets. While those are some of our favorite things, it's all too easy to lose sight of the human story among the whooshing, 'sploding, and transforming.

One way to focus on the people is to place them in an all-too-familiar future that looks a lot like now. There's a fascinating strand of sci-fi cinema that does just that, with auteurs such as Traffaut, Godard, and Kubrick creating the future by filming in real locations.

Science fiction has a slippery definition, but for this article Robert Heinlein's definition is spot on: "realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present." Architecture provides suitably futuristic locations for many sci-fi films: the famous Bradbury Building at 304 South Broadway, Los Angeles, is an atmospheric location for Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," while the dramatic Dallas City Hall, at 1500 Marilla, acted as the headquarters of evil corporation OCP in RoboCop.

Some films use such locations more extensively, both to evoke an unfamiliar future and to connect the themes of the film with the world we live in. The effect is often disconcerting and lends itself to the dystopic. We've highlighted the films that deliberately make as much use of existing buildings as possible.

Read more of The future is now: Sci-fi films in real locations at Crave UK.

 

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