How Science Fiction Movies Affect The Reality Of Cities

Smart Cities Insider interviewed Harald Belker. Harald is a sought-after automotive designer in the Hollywood film industry. He designed futuristic vehicles for movies such as “Minority Report”, “Total Recall”,  “Tron” and “Batman” just to name a few. Smart Cities Insider wanted to know how science fiction influences the future reality.

If we take a look at the science fiction movies from decades ago, what had been pure science-fiction back then, partially became reality today. How do you think the visions of entertainment and gaming designers influence the progress of the real world?

Harald Belker: It is a fact that games and films have an impact on the future of design. The reason is because we don’t have the limitations to think about all the trouble that comes along with manufacturing and selling a real product. If we go back all the way to Star Trek where Captain Kirk had the little flip-up communicator. How many years was it before people actually had a flip-up phone? That’s one of the iconic film designs that became reality in the future.

Consciously, if you think about the future, then you can make it, which is really easily done in film because it doesn’t have to function yet. The real world technology is lagging behind but the thought is already there. When we work on science fiction movies, we are aware of what is possible and what would be cool to have at some point. That may spark some really bright people to make science-fiction a reality.

When you create new designs for films, do you have a vision of what is going to happen in 20 years from now or do you just design without a thought about feasibility in the future? 

Harald Belker: It’s a little bit of both. I think of what could happen and also I think how cool it would that be if that would happen. Nobody is telling me no, so I can just go ahead and design something. It’s really funny because we live in a world that is 20-600 years in the future, depending on what you work on, especially in video games. There is nothing that tells me today that something is absolutely impossible. How many things were absolutely impossible 50 or 100 years ago and are absolutely normal today, with the exception of time travel, teleportation and flying cars.

Which of the most unusual science fiction concepts from older movies do you see nowadays in the real world?

Harald Belker: Going back to the film Minority Report where we had autonomous cars for the elite class, the Maglev vehicles that drive right into the living room: look at how many companies are working on the autonomous car concept now.

Minority Report, Maglev car by Harald Belker

When you design for films do you think about sustainability in cities? Do you think about things like energy efficiency or water conservation?

Harald Belker: This totally depends on the movie you are working on. Unfortunately most of the movies are more about conquering and destroying. But there are movies where that social awareness is part of the script and then you absolutely think of how you can make the world a better place. For example, the film Minority Report was one of the rare occasions where there was really a lot of thought on what the future would be like.

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