At the risk of spoiling the plot for those that haven't seen it, Ishiguro's tale deals with themes of the value of the short time we have to live our lives and the consequence of decisions we may make flippantly on the lives of others. This discussion is carried by the narrative vehicle of an imaginary institute, founded in 1950's England which breeds a race of people, separate from the remainder of the populace, to provide replacement organs which they slowly surrender through the course of their short institutionalised lives before passing away.
It is fascinating how Romanek chooses architectures in which to frame this progression, mostly in terms of buildings in which the characters play out their final days, when their innocence has been stripped away and the stark realities of their predetermined existence become apparent. He exchanges the manor house and country barn of their earlier, happier lives, for stark brutal and post modern concrete buildings in which they see their dreams fade away.
Doubling as the hospital in which organs are harvested is James Stirling's Andrew Mellville student halls at St Andrews university, with Carey Mulligan's Kathy taking up residence in Carradale House, an often overlooked sister project to the Trellick Tower, by Erno Goldfinger.
Both these buildings come from a time when thinkers in all disciplines truly believed that science and technology could cure all mans ills - a mantle taken on happily by architects in their zeal to see the home as a machine for living in and to replan and rebuild cities still reeling from two world wars. Both the modern project in architecture and Ishiguro's fictional 'Organ Donation Bureau' are flawed by virtue of their neglect of the role of the individual at the expense of the preference for the communal.
Category: film, architecture