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Dioramas in the Movies

There are a couple of different ways that dioramas are used in TV and film. First off they are often used as actual scenes in the movies.

And sometimes a character in a show or movie is a diorama enthusiast. He or she will either have or will be working on a diorama.

An interesting thing about this approach is that it often depicts a couple of things. It often depicts the diorama making as being intelligent, methodica,l and detail oriented.

I think there is some truth to that.

And secondly the making of, and working on a diorama is used as a tool by the character as a form of relaxation. And this too is true.

Another use of the diorama is that it can be a plot vehicle in the show. A good example of this is with Beetlejuice where the diorama is used as a part of the story.


So, over the years, and after watching lots of movies and TV shows let's take a look at some of the dioramas characters own, or are working on.

Do you know of a diorama in a movie or tv show? Send me an email!


House of Cards Diorama (Civil war diorama)

In the series Kevin Spacey's character does some political work with re-enactors of the Civil War. It definitely has an affect on him and within a couple of episodes he starts making a Civil War Diorama. Kind of fun. He is using it as a contemplation of history and as a way to relax.

I haven't watched the whole series but so far the diorama makes appearances in Season 2 episodes7, 8 and 9.

It looks to be about 35 mm scale and it seems like a lot of fun. The trees are clearly woodland scenics and at one point he is seen using Tamiya cement on the little civil war figures. Note that a web visitor (Tim) has helped out with identification here. He has shared with us that the figures are 54mm scale, and the figures are Britains Deetail figures. Thanks Tim!





At one point in Season 2 episode 7 Kevin Spacey has a meeting go very badly and it angers him. He takes it out by pushing the diorama onto the floor. It isn't long after though he is working on it again.


Murder at 1600 (Wesley Snipes)

In the movie Wesley Snipes is a police officer. And diorama making is a hobby for him. He has more than one diorama in the movie. We first get to see them when he shows them to Diane Lane. In this picture you can see a big diorama in the foreground. There is another in the background.

This first diorama, Wesley tells Diane, is Manassas, the First Battle of Bull Run.


Here is a closeup of the diorama in the background. Wesley tells Diane that it is Washington City July 21st, 1861.

We also get a shot of the White House from that period .


This next picture gives is a great look at the Manassas diorama and the size of it in comparison the actors. He points out Sudley Springs and the spot where Stonewall Jackson got his nickname.

Diane Lane asks him why he did all this and his response is "I'm a homicide cop in the homicide capital of the world. It's cheaper than a shrink."

Isn't that great! Diorama making is great therapy!!

Soon he mentions that he has to move. And he says" I have to take all this apart then put it all back together? No way, I ain't moving."



This movie is now almost 30 years old and still holds up well. The special effects are a little dated. They used stop motion for a lot of stuff and nowadays CGI does a much better job. It still is a rather fun movie and I just watched it again after having not seen it for at least two decades. There is a pretty nice diorama of they keep in the attic. It's a fun diorama of the town they live in.

The Diorama itself plays a role in the movie. It is a sort of transitional zone. The characters sometimes appear in the diorama and Beetlejuice himself springs from it. There is some fun blending between the diorama world and the real world/spirit world.

You can watch it on Amazon Prime right here: Beetlejuice


This is my favorite scene of the diorama. It is illuminated at night and you can see the moon and stars above. Just wonderful.



Here Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis have stepped into the diorama.



The Awakening - Horror Movie

This is a horror movie about a woman who is a "ghost hunter" But she is more of a person who exposes fraudulent ghosts and tricksters. It is actually a really good movie. I like it!

But about the diorama.

The movie takes place in a very old british building. It is a boarding school/orphanage type building - think Downton Abbey. Anyway, inside this building there is a room with a large doll house. And the dollhouse/diorama is a copy of part of the building that the movie takes place in.

And it is very creepy because the furnishings and figures inside the doll house change as the house changes. A spirit is using it to communicate in a fashion. And there are a couple of great (and scary) scenes with this dollhouse. I won't tell you too much, but from my perspective this movie is worth watching just for this one scene that is quite terrific :)

Available on amazon instant video here

Also available on Netflix





CSI Season 7 Miniature Crime Scene Killer or MCSK (The Season is available on

This plot line developed over 5 episodes where each crime scene came with a miniature replica of the scene. (The Miniature Killer)


Brian Cox makes some kind of a diorama in one of his movies. If I remember correctly he was working on some kind of Samurai diorama. Shoot me an email if you know what movie I am referring to. Or if you know of a movie or tv show with a diorama in it.

Could be:
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Kiss the Girls
The Glimmer Man?
The Ring