The Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles is supposedly one of the most photographed buildings in the world, but for all its appearances, it's a pretty inscrutable place: giant, reflective tubes on the outside and spiraling concrete walkways inside. Journalist Colin Marshall, in the latest video in his fantastic The City in Cinema series, starts to unravel the allure of the Bonaventure, which is both futuristic (see it in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Interstellar) and dystopian (car chases, falling deaths, shootouts, Batman, the climactic rave in Strange Days, and so many disaster movies—Marshall narrates that it "must appeal strongly to disaster filmmakers looking for structures to destroy with digital effects, given that it looks computer generated even in real life.")
The Bonaventure opened in 1976, designed by John C. Portman, and has since appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, from the opening of the 1980 series It's a Living to This is Spinal Tap, Escape From LA, Heat, True Lies, and, naturally, Swordfish. Marshall shows in his video how filmmakers employ its iconic exterior, its Brutalist base, and its famously transcendent elevators; use it as a shorthand for Los Angeles or move it to Shanghai or Atlanta; give it new features as needed, like balconies on "the most obviously balconyless hotel in Los Angeles"; and completely and bafflingly ignore the rotating rooftop lounge. Watch it here:
Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: the Bonaventure Hotel from Colin Marshall on Vimeo.
· Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: the Bonaventure Hotel [Vimeo]
· Los Angeles's 20 Most Iconic Buildings, Mapped [Curbed LA]