This week, I will release the Fourth Edition of my book, "A Guidebook To 'Breaking Bad' Filming Locations: Albuquerque as Physical Setting and Indispensable Character." But first, here's an update to a video I first made in February regarding the uses of architecture and symbolism in "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul."
Albuquerque's architecture itself is telling plot-supporting stories and influencing the filming-location-selection process. It is possible to “read” the background of scenes and catch subtle revelations, even years in advance of the plot. Puzzling location-selection decisions can finally be understood.
One such story is a cautionary tale about the excesses and corruptions of modern life, as refracted through the history of the City of Chicago, particularly its “Century of Progress.” In their different ways, both Walter White and Saul Goodman are perfect children of Chicago’s “Century of Progress.” As it happens, Albuquerque received many of its architectural features straight from Chicago, so the city can serve as an effective showcase of Chicago’s influence on America and the world.
Another story concerns window technology. The television shows recapitulate the recent history of how glass windows were modified to introduce more sunlight into the recesses of large buildings, and reciprocally, once electrical lighting technology improved, how large buildings became beacons and lanterns in the night. The City of Chicago had an out-sized role in this process. Private worlds were rendered less private, turning even inner life into a kind of theatrical performance, with all the attendant temptations and dangers. Among these widespread window innovations in Albuquerque, and useful as Chicago callbacks, are Glass Block Windows and Luxfer Prismatic Tile Windows. Even plate glass windows have their place.
The creative teams also use Albuquerque’s Pueblo Deco architecture, particularly archways and ceilings, as foreshadowing elements. Traditional church architecture, such as clerestory windows, are also used, as are other Christian symbols.
Understanding the crystalline labyrinth of Vince Gilligan’s Albuquerque deepens one’s appreciation for the real city: the Aged Sapphire of the Southwest!