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This week's feature

Smart Cities on the Silver Screen

Streetlights that turn on when you walk by, public transportation that adjusts to real-time passenger volume, cars that drive themselves, buildings that regulate their own energy consumption… Smart cities are slowing but surely becoming reality. Previously the stuff of fiction and sci-fi movies, architects are starting to make the dream come true. And while we don’t yet see flying cars whizzing around between buildings, the cinema’s vision of futuristic cities is taking shape!

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Filmmakers aren’t waiting around for 4G and fiber optic networks to portray the digital cities of tomorrow. Lights, camera, action… Let’s see what the smart city’s like. In issue number 75 we’ll leap into the future, with Smart Cities on the Silver Screen, a look at the celluloid cities of tomorrow:

  1. From Matrix to Metropolis, our playlist for the futuristic city
  2. From the 5th Element to Tron, 5 sci-fi cinema’s coolest modes of transport
  3. 3 questions to Sean Hargreaves, the man who designed Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond
  4. The think tank that drew up the blueprint for the city in Minority Report
  5. Focus on Gotham City, cinema’s legendary city may be fantasy but it’s also hyper-realistic.
  6. Meet Syd Mead, the king of retro-futuristic design
  7. TOP 5 futuristic cities on the silver screen

Fasten your seatbelts, destination pop culture!

As Doc Brown in Back to the Future, famously said:

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!

Playlist for the futuristic city

Music - November 16, 2016

From hard rock to lounge, there’s a huge range of music composed for sci-fi flicks. The future cities portrayed in film have become legend, and their soundtracks have often become just as iconic. Think of the unforgettable synthesizer riffs by Vangelis that accompany the dark melancholic Los Angeles of Blade Runner.

From Rage against the Machine’s screaming guitars to the orchestral compositions of John Williams, here’s our top 10 Best Film Soundtracks for the urban sci-fi genre. Whether classical or head-banger rock, these cuts have enthralled music-lovers the world over. Enjoy;)

  1. Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine (Matrix)
  2. Love Theme – Vangelis (Blade Runner)
  3. Little Light of Love – Eric Serra (The Fifth Element)
  4. The Morrow – Michael Nyman  (Gattaca)
  5. Double Back –  ZZ Top (Back to the Future III)
  6. Sabotage – Beastie Boys (Star Trek)
  7. Party Man – Prince (Batman)
  8. Metropolis – Giorgio Moroder (Metropolis)
  9. Minority Report – John Williams (Minority Report)
  10. Superstition – Stevie Wonder (I-Robot)

If you’re a Deezer subscriber, cue up the playlist on our account here!

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5 of sci-fi cinema’s coolest modes of transport

The infographic - November 16, 2016

On the street or in the air, it’s a snap getting around the smart cities you see on the big screen!

infographic-science-fiction-cinema-transport-smartcities

 

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3 questions to Sean Hargreaves, production designer and lead concept artist of Hollywood’s futuristic cities

The 3 questions - November 16, 2016

He conceived the space city Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond and did design work on films like Batman Forever, The Fifth Element, Ghost in the Shell and Jurassic Park: The Lost WorldSean Hargreaves is the master architect of the city of the future.

Orange Pop: How do you conceive and design a city of the future for the cinema? Is it purely a matter of imagination?   

Sean Hargreaves: Anything designed for a film is designed because of the script. You then think about how far in the future you need to design. Then once that is established you need to find an aesthetic, which means you need to see what kind of ‘look’ is appealing for the film. Hopefully you can design something original. Personally I love minimalism, and minimalist designs, but for films it needs to have fantasy or the audience will be bored. I base all my designs on reality first and I try to make them as realistic as possible.

O. Pop: What are the similarities between cities like Coruscant (Star Wars, JJ Abrams), the Los Angeles of Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) or Yorktown (Star Trek Beyond, Justin Lin)?   

SH: First, these cities are huge. Especially Coruscant, which is a planet city. I think the dream has always been to have personal vehicles that land on platforms attached to the buildings. But definitely Blade Runner was a huge influence, with the different levels of opulence. I also think Moebius and O’Bannon’s The Long Tomorrow comic is a big influence on some of these designs, including The Fifth Element.

O. Pop: Do you think that cinema is a good way to disseminate ideas and models for the city of tomorrow?   

SH: Yes, I really think science fiction cinema shows a possibility of where we are going or where we can go in the future. It can give us hope. It can, and has, predicted the future. Cell phones, GPS and car screens are examples. I think the only 2 things left are flying personal cars and teleportation.

sean-hargreaves-marvel-studios-designer-concepteur-ville-futur-interview

The Senior Concept Designer conjuring up visions of tomorrow’s metropolis © Sean Hargreaves

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The think tank that drew up the blueprint for the city in Minority Report

Shine at parties! - November 16, 2016

In 1999, three years before the film was scheduled for release, Steven Spielberg gathered 15 renowned specialists in a Santa Monica hotel. For three days, experts in urban planning, architecture, research, biomedicine, criminology, transportation, information technology, social services, smart cities, and even the inventor of virtual reality, met and discussed what Washington and the world might look like in 2054.

The team, with the help of MIT grad John Underkoffer (the film’s scientific and technological advisor) came up with a city that is acknowledged as one of the most coherent and visionary in the history of sci-fi film. The movie even predicted some of the tech innovations that are part of our lives today: for example, touch screens and sensor-equipped gesture-based interfaces.

minority-report-steven-spielberg-think-tank-expert-ville-futur

John Anderton is using the computer in gesture-based interface mode © Motherboard.vice

 

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Gotham City, cinema’s legendary city may be fantasy but it’s also hyper-realistic

A picture says it all - November 16, 2016

Most sci-fi set designers and artists base their imaginary cities on existing ones. Gotham City leads the genre, blending the look and feel of New York and Chicago into a rich evocative and distinctly American urban iconography.

The city Bruce Wayne calls home was conjured up by artists and designers at DC Comics. To make it easier for readers to follow Batman around Gotham, they came up with a coherent skyline, maps of the city that show the layout of the streets and boulevards, and even designed a subway system, Gotham City Rail.

Its architecture and geographic exactitude have evolved over the years as new designers, artists, and editors have come and gone. Batman sometimes prowls art deco cityscapes, sometimes glass and steel, and even futuristic, but whatever the style, Gotham has always basked in the colossal, larger-than-life decor that characterizes both the Big Apple and the Windy City.

Several city maps figure in the opening credits for: Batman Begins, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.

gotham-city-ville-futur-batman-cinema-smartcities

©Gotham City, skyscapers and canyons: the ideal setting for Batman & his arch rivals

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Syd Mead, the king of retro-futuristic design

Who's who - November 16, 2016

Syd Mead is one of the giants of industrial design in today’s film industry. He may not be a household name, but he’s a superstar in the field of automotive design with several huge successes for Chrysler and Ford, and even a toaster!

And he conceived a lot of the legendary cities and objects that figure in Hollywood’s sci-fi movies. The father of futuristic design, he came up with the “light cycles” in Tron (1982), some of the space ships in Alien and Star Trek, as well as the city and the flying cars of Blade Runner.

In 1988, The Los Angeles Times Magazine published a special edition on the future and solicited Syd Mead’s vision of the urban centers of 2013. The visionary designer’s Headline for the magazine was nothing less than autonomous electric vehicles, the exact point the car industry has reached today. A bull’s-eye! Mead must have a crystal ball.

syd-mead-retro-design-ville-du-futur

Syd Mead, 83, the star of retro-futurism © Blastr

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TOP 5 futuristic cities on the silver screen

Gimme 5 - November 16, 2016

1. Coruscant: The capital of the galactic empire in Star Wars is a planet-city that is 100% urban. It’s a pin cushion of skyscrapers that disappear into the clouds, zillions of space ships buzzing amongst the buildings. Estimated population: 1 trillion inhabitants.

top5-villes-futur-cinema-coruscant-empire-galactique

Coruscant: the word skyscraper is no misnomer © Starwars.wikia

2. Yorktown: This is the Federation’s space city in Star Trek Beyond. Generating its own gravitational field, it is possessed of its own atmosphere and its skyscrapers are home to beings from every galaxy under Federation control. Estimated population: 50 to 80 million inhabitants.

top5-ville-futur-cinema-smartcities-yorktown-star-trek

Yorktown’s roller-coaster look © Memory-Alpha.wikia

3. Los Angeles 2019: A teeming megapolis, with its dark and brooding fluorescent urban landscape, is the setting for Blade Runner. On the Instagram account Blade Runner Reality, photos of real buildings and cities that inspired or were recreated in the film will convince you that we already live in the Los Angeles of Philip K. Dick (author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on which the film by Ridley Scott is based). Estimated population: 40 to 50 million inhabitants.

los-angeles-2019-blade-runner-ville-futur-cinema-smartcities-top5

Los Angeles 2019: dark, ominous, and cyberpunk © Kinopithèque

4. Neo Tokyo: The gigantic garish megacity in the film Akira. A veritable icon of Japanese urban pop culture, this fictitious city has inspired loads of Manga artists and illustrators, not to mention a fair number of architects and industrial designers. Built on the ruins of Tokyo following its destruction during World War III, its population and urban sprawl has spiraled out of control. Estimated population: 30 to 40 million.

neo-tokyo-akira-ville-futur-cinema-smartcities-top5

Neo Tokyo: the most popular city (almost) in Japan © Dazed Digital

5. Metropolis: The factory city dreamed up by director Fritz Lang in 1927. The vision was inspired by his first view of New York’s skyline in October of 1924. He recalls, “The buildings were like a vertical veil, sparkling and diaphanous, like some kind of luxurious decor, suspended against a somber sky to entertain, enchant and hypnotize people.” Metropolis is considered the first futuristic city portrayed by the cinema, and one that has inspired so many others. Estimated population: 5 to 10 million.

metropolis-new-york-fritz-lang-ville-futur-cinema-smartcities-top5

Metropolis: the first ever city of the future hasn’t aged a day © The daily geek show

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Let’s have a walk in the town of Ghost in the Shell

Stories - November 16, 2016

If you’re a Sci-Fi addict, then you’ve probably read Ghost in the shell, the popular manga starring a cyborg female hero. Created by Masamune Shirow, the story takes place in 2027 and has been adapted in a movie directed by Rupert Sanders.

The main setting in the story is New Port City, an artificial island described as a “floating metropolis”. According to the author, this fictional city is supposed to be located on the North side of Osaka Bay next to Kobe, Japan.

An animated version of the book was released in 1995, depicting the city. His director, Mamoru Oshii, got inspired by Hong Kong’s urban landscape, and mixed the sea-side aspect with the very vertical cityscape. It results impressive buildings, towers, billboards, and neon lights along the streets. Plus, New Port City is depicted as an international trade city, such as Hong Kong itself.

The transportations offer is also quite developed: the inhabitants can use an elevated train system, take some electric busses and even boats (if they’re going somewhere on the canal).

We can’t wait to see this town on the big screen. The movie will be released on March 31, 2017 starring Scarlett Johansson! #SaveTheDate 😉

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Alpha, the breathtaking city of the new Besson’s movie

Stories - November 17, 2016

Based on the French comics series, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of the most awaited sci-fi movie in 2017, directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Lucy…) and starring Cara Delevingne (Laureline) and Dane DeHaan (Valerian).

A large part of the story takes place in 2700, on Alpha, an intergalactic town where Valerian and Laureline, two young agents of the time-controlling agency, try to save the city from a mysterious threat.

Alpha is called “the ever-expanding city”, and we can perfectly understand why: “only” seventeen million inhabitants and thousands of different kind of species live in this town. Can’t wait for seeing the first pics of Alpha? Well, the movie will be released on July 2017, but thanks Internet, you can watch the first trailer below 😉

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Discover the futuristic town of Black Panther

Stories - November 18, 2016

Black Panther is back!

A new movie about the well-known African superhero will be released in 2018. In addition of watching his great adventures, you’ll discover his (imaginary) country Wakanda and its capital Birnin Zana.

Settled in the jungle in the Eastern part of Africa, Birnin Zana, also nicknamed « the golden city », is an afro-futuristic town with hanging gardens, fountains, skyscrapers and flying cars. This particular city gets its welfare from a special ore inside the jungle. Last but not least, the iconic palace sitting in the heart of the capital.

One thing is for sure: the city ought to be impressive on the big screen. We hope that the movie will be based on the comics’ drawing. Raaaaawwww

#wakanda

A photo posted by STAY VENOMOUS 🕷 Cris (@mcg_venom) on

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Lud, the Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic city

Stories - November 21, 2016

If you’re a real Stephen King’s fan, you must know about The Dark tower. This epic fresco takes place in a parallel universe in which everything is linked to a mysterious dark tower. No wonder why the story will be adapted in a movie, coming in 2017.

One of the main places of the series is Lud, a devastated city, also described as an alternative version of New York. Settled in the waste lands, this ghostly town has been in disrepair for at least five hundred years… And yes, it has its own version of the George Washington Bridge.

Even though we don’t have images of the city from the movie (yet), we can still give a great overview with some gorgeous artworks of Darek Kokureck, a Polish illustrator. Inspired by the Dark Tower series, the artist represented his vision of this particular town in an artwork you can discover on his website and Instagram account.

No doubt that we will freeze in our warm cinema seats!

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Let’s travel in Gotham city

Stories - November 22, 2016

Prepare yourself to see the fantastic adventures of Batman… in Lego! A new movie is coming in 2017 (you can see the trailer below). This version will take place in a sumptuous version of Gotham entirely made in Lego, and, as usual, Batman will try to save the town from the Joker. In addition, you will see new cars from the future, including of course the legendary Batmobile.

If you’re a fan of iconic cars, check out those two splendid sets that Lego is about to release: the first one is Joker’s lowrider (and yes, it’s only available in purple 😛 ), while the other one is a much darker version… The Batmobile itself! Both of them seem really cool, and we can’t wait to play with them this Christmas 😀

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See you next week!

To be continued - November 16, 2016

Next week, we’re gonna prove you that the best place to workout is your street! #sportcity

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