Architecture and Narrative in Michael Mann’s Crime Films
by Robert Arnett — Old Dominion University
March 10, 2008 – 11:00
The architecture in Michael Mann’s crime films is so distinct and purposeful it takes on a narrative form and interacts with the film’s narrative. For Mann, architecture presents a ongoing visual narrative telling of the loss of identity in the American city. Place become non-place. Cities losing their identity becomes a metaphor for a more pervasive loss of identity. Architecture and narrative within these films works on three levels: I. The architecture (built environs) tell a distinct stoy. II. The architecture interacts with the character’s narrative (characters change the definition of space; space defines/reveals character). III. The architecture reveals the interiority of a character, the environs make visual the inner-layers of a character.