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When they decided to build a motorway past my door, I booked this in to
show the protest group. It was alarming to see how well it fitted the
situation decades after it was made. The print hadn't been off the
shelf for 14 years and probably hasn't been run since.
It's scary to watch important documentaries vanish.
This lot is one of the peak achievements of the Canadian NFB. The WAR series is another. It's rare to see important issues treated at such length and with such insight. Compare the Australian National Film Board China series and you'll see what I mean.
Lewis Mumford's is one of the clearest voices on urban planning. The 30s Willard Van Dyke THE CITY is him again. He hates cars and I suspect my attitudes were shaped by his. The film makers endorse his points beautifully - alternative transport shown with the great Bert Hanstraa airial shot of the canal that goes OVER a road or the chilling ending, with cars coming off the assembly line every few seconds.
This production has skills which outclass FARENHIET 9/11. It's a failure of the whole medium when we lose work of this quality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw this short film for the first time. It was shown for free, outdoors, in the city of Hudson, New York, on a beautiful June evening as part of a multi-media art exhibition. It's full of amazing black and white footage of congested traffic, pedestrians dodging same, highways, railroads, and loads of admittedly gorgeous classic 50's and 60's cars in the US (Mainly NYC) and Europe (Paris and The Netherlands). Narrated by Mr. Mumford, this film anticipates the modern, filthy chaos that characterizes the automobile-centric city. The cinematography is splendid. The editing, flawless. I can't do this short documentary justice in such a brief comment, but it's a shame that this film is not easily available. Anyone concerned with the future of the human species, the future of cities, and the problems of transit and transportation, will get a kick out of Lewis Mumford's crystal clear logic and explication. Do whatever you have to do to see this or to bring about an easily available way for the public to see this. Apple should license this for iTunes distribution, or if it's "available" for sharing, YouTube or Google.Video would be a great way to share this prescient and highly entertaining wisdom.
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