COLUMBUS: A Story of Balance Based on Asymmetry


A couple Fridays ago, we took the office to a movie screening in San Francisco. Of course this means it had to be an architecture movie, and it was, COLUMBUS. 

On a personal note, COLUMBUS was directed by Kogonada, a Korean American, who also cast another Korean American in John Cho to play the lead. I had to let that sink in as a fellow Korean American... Wow. Okay, now back to my review.

Let me start by saying that this probably not the best movie to take your whole family to. In fact, your significant other may not even totally enjoy this movie depending on their preference of genre and attention span. As excited as I was to watch it, I will admit that there were moments where even I wondered if it had to be this slow. It's a very poetic motion picture that is definitely considered "indie" in today's day and age, but it's a beautiful portrayal of a story line hand-in-hand with architecture from Columbus, Indiana. 

As the main characters get to know one another, one of the first memorable lines for me is a description of Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church as an asymmetric design, but one that is still balanced. This line rang through the movie as a whole in its portrayal of parallel lives of father and son. 

You don't have to know or even love architecture to enjoy this movie, but it certainly does make the movie a little more worth watching if you do have some architectural interest. It's obvious from both the script writing and cinematography that the director is an architectural enthusiast himself. Never having been to Columbus, I feel as though his movie did a great job opening my eyes and interest in visiting in the future, and just how important architecture can be a backdrop and even a main character in story telling film.