ArchiModels | Breaking and Entering

Breaking and Entering (2006) | Anthony Minghella

“This is brilliant. You're really going to do all this, I mean, put a canal right through the middle?”

Of all the models I have managed to find in film and TV, this is by far one of my favourites. Part of the plot revolves around landscape architects, Will (Jude Law) and Sandy (Martin Freeman), who are tasked with redeveloping the King’s Cross area of North London. A gigantic model is on display in their office, a newly renovated warehouse, which they recently relocated to, to be closer to the project. But on the first night after an office opening party, a break-in literally damages the model and by extension, this idealised plan for King’s Cross. This is a popular trope in film and TV, where the destruction of a development model often foreshadows the failure or flaws of the plan.

Pieces of broken glass fall on and damage the architect's idealised vision of King's Cross.
Pieces of broken glass fall on, and damage the architect’s idealised vision of King’s Cross.

During the break-in, Miro (Rafi Gavron), the person who ties the various plots in this film together, notices and steals some of the model-people.

Breaking and Entering_break in scene 2
Miro (Rafi Gavron) stealing some of the people from the model.

He used them to create his own model, wherein he plans his parkour stunts. In his model, the people play a much larger role than in that of the architect’s. In his model they are moved around, and don’t just function as decoration.

Miro's amateur model used to plan parkour tricks.
Miro’s amateur model used to plan parkour stunts.

Miro is more interested in playing with the little figurines. His focus in clearly more on the people.

Miro doesn't seem convinced by Will's video explaining the design intent for King's Cross.
Miro clearly doesn’t seem interested in Will’s video explaining the design intent for King’s Cross.

Another interaction I quite enjoyed was when Detective Bruno Fella (Ray Winstone) comes to the firms office to ask questions after the burglary. He initially describes the project as “brilliant”, but later just as “nice”.

“This is brilliant. You're really going to do all this, I mean, put a canal right through the middle?”
“This is brilliant. You’re really going to do all this, I mean, put a canal right through the middle?”

“King’s Cross. Is what? What is it? I mean… that’s you there. You got a British Library over there with Eurostar, and bang in the middle you got crack village with a load of Somalians walking about with machetes. It’s an area in flux.”

Detective Bruno Fella (Ray Winstone) obviously has no respect for the model.
Detective Bruno Fella (Ray Winstone) obviously has no respect for the model.

Detective Fella is not sold on the merits of the project. He shows no respect for the model, leaning over it with his coffee to point out where he was born and raised and then leaving the mug on one of the roofs. Sandy’s facial expression speaks volumes when he goes to remove the mug.

Seems like the perfect place to leave a mug...
Seems like the perfect place to leave a mug…
Sandy is not impressed.
Sandy is not impressed.

Note the use of warmer tones when the focus is on Miro, his mother and the scenes inside their apartment versus the colder hues in the architect’s office and scenes from Will’s life.

The film focuses on the conflict between the idealised vision the architects have for King’s Cross and the lived reality of the people. The architects are portrayed as out of touch, and this naiveté is emphasised by the break-in at their office and the damage to the model which sets the plot in motion. The stolen people become a plot device that is key in tying the different stories together.

If you have not yet seen Breaking and Entering, I highly recommend you check it out.