“[Code 46] Production Designer Mark Tildesley pieced together a “creative geography” for the film. A scene might be made up of a few different locations, different pieces of buildings existing in reality thousands of miles from each other. Tildesley thought; “The most interesting thing to do would be to try to fool the audience by taking the most interesting bits from each location. So you’d have the impression that you were walking out of a door in one city, but you’d actually end up walking out of it into completely different place, somewhere else entirely.” They chose Shanghai and Dubai as locations because they have: “This extraordinary, contradictory architecture. In Shanghai there is Third World poverty in the shadow of some of the most modern skyscrapers in the world. In Dubai there is the skyscraper area of the city and then just behind it is the desert. It was those curious juxtapositions which were interesting and attractive.”
“The space created by Code 46 is a compelling, almost meditative, melancholic vision, muted and disquieting. The dream of globalization has soured into an overly surveilled and controlling world [...] , where even sexual partners need to be DNA-vetted [...] The film’s East-meets-West outlook evokes the futurist visions of J.G. Ballard, where the vermilion sands of Third World deserts are interrupted only by rundown settlements and sleek shimmering citystate protectorates. Shanghai is a perfect location, as, more than any other city, it is currently undergoing a rapid transformation into “the city of the future.” The already sci-fi-inflected design of the Oriental Pearl TV tower in Pudong clashes up against the art deco mansions of Shanghai’s faded colonial past. Yet it makes perfect sense that Pudong’s new skyscraper district should coexist with the older part of town, Puxi, across the Huangpu river.”
“Code 46‘s dystopic sci-fi reality is a world on the brink of destruction, fractured into citystates, internationalist but isolated. A world of transience, of airport check-ins, and motorway check points. Where people are as disconnected as the locations themselves. The glowing – circular atrium of Shanghai’s Grand Hyatt, located in the feng shui’d Jiang Mao tower, or the City’s elevated highways, spiral people into themselves, into a reverie.”
Matt Hanson. Code 46 in Building Sci-Fi Moviescapes: The Science Behind The Fiction. Mies: Rotovision SA. 2004. pp 100-02.