Global Cities in Film

The following is a list of suggestions from the critical geography list in reponse to a query about films to use for teaching about global cities.

12 Stories

A Friend of the Deceased

It captures a bit of the anxiety amid change from a socialist city to a capitalist one; the city itself is somewhat showcased, and I remember being struck by the beautiful architecture of older buildings and a skyline dominated by cranes constructing new developments...

Amores Perros

Autumn Moon

Blade Runner

Bride and Prejudice

Bugis Street  

Café Lumiere

Central Station

Chungking Express

Great film, but you run the risk of your students throwing themselves out of the nearest window if your students don't get it.

Chunking Express     

City of God

Great camerawork.
Brilliant film capturing the malaise of Rio.
What a film - outstanding.

Dirty Pretty Things

dealing with illegal migrants in London
About hotel workers in London.
Has it all: global cities, migration, sweat shops, gender issues, as well as a great story and great acting!

Eating Air

Fallen Angels 

Floating Life

Grand Canyon

Happy Together


Undoubtedly Michael Mann's masterpiece, focuses on L.A.'s crimescape (based on true events from the 1960s).

I Not Stupid

In the Mood for Love 

La Ville Est Tranquille

Les Avants Du Pont Neuf

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Would give you a certain view of London, and it is a cracking film.


Patrick Keiller's fictional narrative as told in a documentary style is mesmerising, as is the film's counterpart 'Robinson in Space' (1997) although this is about the UK in general.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Lost in Translation

I used this for cultural approaches to the city.

Mee Pok Man

Money No Enough

Monsoon Wedding

Resurrection Man

This is set in 1970s Belfast and you can really appreciate the ethnic conflict and associated microgeographies of fear (Nuala Johnston from Queen's Belfast has written about this in E & P D I think).

Rogue Trader


Starring James Woods in one of his best roles. This charts the rise and fall of the Giuliani administration and takes us into the heart of the post 9/11 city.

Run Lola Run

Salaam Bombay

Sporchi, Brutti e Cattivi

Amazing and little-know film. Try and find subtitled version.

The Decay of Fiction

Three Seasons