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Destroyed in a dramatic and highly-publicized implosion, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex has become a widespread symbol of failure amongst architects, politicians and policy makers. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth explores the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of conventional public housing in America, and the city centers in which they resided, while tracing the personal and poignant narratives of several of the project's residents. In the post-War years, the American city changed in ways that made it unrecognizable from a generation earlier, privileging some and leaving others in its wake. The next time the city changes, remember Pruitt-Igoe. Written by
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a documentary that tries to zero in on just why the massive public project went so quickly from being an modern masterpiece to an absolute hell in such a short amount of time. Architects, urban planers, sociologist, and politicians have all weighed in on why the housing project failed, but no one can pin point the exact problem. This documentary aims to step back from the project and look at the city of St. Louis as a whole. Urban Flight and the lack of jobs and support from the city are pointed to instead.
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth means well. All too often, the reason for the project's demise is pointed to the poor that lived that. That they couldn't have nice things and keep up with them. The documentary, however, gives those people a voice. Throughout the film, people who lived in the community speak highly of their time there during what seemed to be golden years. Stories of love, union, and community run rampant. But that almost comes to the film's fault. We know whose side the film makers are on. And we only get the human story and not the other things that lead to the end. We aren't told about the skip-stop elevators, the condensing of physical space, or the fight for mixed housing. We hear a majority of human stories.
Luckily, the interviewees paint a terrific and chilling picture of their experiences in the community. Even years later, a woman is brought to tears recounting how the people of the projects were viewed. Also a bonus are the massive amounts of pictures and videos looking back to a time we've all forgotten.
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a great documentary that feels incomplete. Like having pancakes without bacon and eggs, what you get out of the movie is delicious...but you feel like you're missing something.
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