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Future by Design (2006)

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Future by Design shares the life and far-reaching vision of Jacque Fresco, considered by many to be a modern day Da Vinci. Peer to Einstein and Buckminster Fuller, Jacque is a self-taught ... See full summary »

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Himself - Narrator (voice)
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Himself - Designer
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Himself - Host, The Larry King Show (archive footage)
Roxanne Meadows ...
Herself - The Venus Project
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Future by Design shares the life and far-reaching vision of Jacque Fresco, considered by many to be a modern day Da Vinci. Peer to Einstein and Buckminster Fuller, Jacque is a self-taught futurist who describes himself most often as a "generalist" or multi-disciplinarian -- a student of many inter-related fields. He is a prolific inventor, having spent his entire life (he is now 90 years old) conceiving of and devising inventions on various scales which entail the use of innovative technology. As a futurist, Jacque is not only a conceptualist and a theoretician, but he is also an engineer and a designer. Written by Gazecki, William

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technology | science | futurism | See All (3) »


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10 June 2006 (USA)  »

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$250,000 (estimated)
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Features Metropolis (1927) See more »

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Live Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
Written by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson
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Futuristic guru, or futuristic fakir? The director does not question.
22 February 2013 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Director William Gazecki presents a 89 minute documentary on inventor/designer/futurist Jacque Fresco, who was in his late 80s/early 90s when the film was shot.

I have deep problems with both the subject of the film, and the choices of the director in framing this story. Let's explore both.

First to Fresco himself. He comes off as a 'poor man's Buckminster Fuller'. Both men seemingly dedicated their lives to technology, design, philosophy and ethics which would improve humanity. Both seemed to dream of a human future away from competitive world of scarcity, to a cooperative world of abundance.

The difference between Fresco and Fuller (as far as I can tell from the film), is that Bucky Fuller seemed determined to prove his concepts by constructing real-life 'artefacts' to prove his ideas were viable. He built geodesic domes, the Dymaxion Car, the Dymaxion Map, all as physical proof of his theories. By contrast, Fresco seems to live in miniature land, spending his time building models of "what the future will look like". One's mind spins at the immense challenge of taking these models from theory to reality.

Fresco talks like a guru, making 'definitive'-sounding statements about how the future will be. He says things like "jets will be propelled with ionized beams", or "robots will do all the dirty, repetitive and boring work". So what? I can make broad statements too. For example: "in the future, everyone will be happy and healthy." Easy, huh? However, just because someone says something, doesn't mean it is actually true or useful.

This is where William Gazecki fails as director. The film feels like a promotional film for Jacque Fresco Industries, Inc. Complete with over-use of 3D modelling and a cheesy MIDI-like music soundtrack.

How did Fresco amass a fortune which allows him to spent 365 days a year creating models? Gazecki's film does not reveal. As far as we know, his only commercial commission is a set of surgical instruments - a far cry from the buildings and transportation which he claims authority to speak on. Not being a Fresco expert, this is a failure of the director, who offers little insight into Fresco's body of work beyond the model collection within The Venus Project circa-2006.

Gazecki allows one voice to dominate the film: that of Fresco himself. As such, the film feels like a sermon from Fresco, with the only alternative voice being that of his Venus Project assistant - hardly a person who is likely to dissent or challenge. No outsiders are interviewed throughout the documentary, and the film degrades into a one-sided 'Fresco on Fresco', set to increasingly bad music. It's no wonder he was so interested in submerged cities - it is clear that Fresco could talk underwater.

These directorial failings could be excused for a film about a subject of trivial importance. Say, a documentary about a football player. But by failing to hold Jacque Fresco to scrutiny, William Gazecki opens a potentially dangerous situation where viewers could be charmed by the soothing tune of the pied piper. The guru could well turn out to be a fakir, who leads us disastrously off track. Specifically, no question is raised of the huge environmental impacts of mining and refining the metals needed for Fresco's grand structures, as well as their energy requirements in a post-Peak Oil world.

The good points of the film? Well, the picture seemed to be in focus most of the time, and the audio and video were in sync. Also, I did not detect any spelling errors in the credits.

If you are looking for a well-made alternative to Future By Design - one which actually offers insight into the documentary's subject, watch Sketches of Frank Gehry by director Sydney Pollack.


7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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