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Since the end of World War II, one of kind of urban residential development has dominate how cities in North America have grown, the suburbs. In these artificial neighborhoods, there is a sense of careless sprawl in an car dominated culture that ineffectually tries to create the more organically grown older communities. Interspersed with the comments of various experts about the nature of suburbia, we follow the lives of various inhabitants of this pervasive urban sprawl and hear their thoughts. However at the end, there is a twist that plays on the falseness of the world in they live.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
James Howard Kunstler:
Eighty percent of everything ever built in North America has been built in the last 50 years. And most of it is brutal, ugly, depressing, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading.
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There's a surprise, 'trick' ending to this documentary, but it doesn't really matter. We are given a revealing close-up of life in suburbia, those densely populated, manufactured wastelands that may have been obsolete 20 years ago.
The film was made in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but, given the physical sameness of suburbia, it could have been made anywhere in Canada or the U.S. We see endless streets with almost identical homes, 'permanent' construction resembling war zones, no trees, no natural parks, no sidewalks, no people. But we DO see masses of vehicles, and super-duper shopping malls that have everything a human being will ever need in war or peace, feast or famine.
The inner city evolved 'organically' (according to one observer in the film). Conversely, the suburbs are pre-packaged 'communities' where all buyers need is an ample wallet and at least two gas-guzzling vehicles (one MUST be an SUV, apparently). A sense of 'togetherness,' as generally understood, is artificially imposed or flat-out illusory. Like secreted apartment dwellers in big cities, single-family suburban dwellers often barely know their neighbours.
Public transit, walking, cycling, etc. are simply non-starters when suburbanites live two hours from their jobs. According to the film, they spend an average of 55 DAYS (!!) a year on the roads, mostly commuting back and forth to work.
(Late Note: In March 2008, 'Radiant City' won the Genie Award --often called Canada's version of the Academy Awards -- for best Canadian documentary film.)
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