Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Human Scale

Good-looking doc doesn't do justice to New Urbanism.

Oct 16, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387178-Human_Scale_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Handsome and weighty-feeling but less substantial than it seems, Andreas M. Dalsgaard's The Human Scale travels the world to convince us of an idea that has been widely held for decades: Cities are better off when they put more thought into how pedestrians move throughout them. A wider-reaching doc with similar production values would be welcome at art houses, but this oddly blindered film has limited commercial prospects.

Though it isn't a portrait of Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl (we learn nothing about his career or personal history, and don't see him all that much), the film behaves as if he is the world's sole, or at least preeminent, proponent of pedestrian-friendly design. Dalsgaard interviews numerous academics and city planners, but wherever he goes, from Copenhagen to New Zealand to Chongqing, China, there's an employee of Gehl Architects to explain things to us.

Sometimes that Gehl evangelist has a useful perspective: In Christchurch, New Zealand, the firm offers a window into ambitious plans to rebuild a central city that was devastated by a 2011 earthquake. But too often we're simply observing plans to close roads to auto traffic and open them to pedestrians instead. Though much is made of Gehl's work in quantifying the use pedestrians make of public spaces, the number-crunching stops there: We're never given figures that back up frequently made assertions that having more people on the street for longer periods of time makes them happier and healthier. (One interviewee says, in essence, that it's impossible to be a human being if you primarily commute via car.)

In their discussions of making megacities livable by limiting the height of buildings (to, say, six stories) in order to encourage street life, no one addresses the question of what would happen to the people who live and work above the sixth floor: How far do cities need to sprawl out to accommodate their new low-rise dwellings? And can we imagine some means of getting them from work to home—subways are never discussed; buses get a single mention—other than walking?

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: The Human Scale

Good-looking doc doesn't do justice to New Urbanism.

Oct 16, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387178-Human_Scale_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Handsome and weighty-feeling but less substantial than it seems, Andreas M. Dalsgaard's The Human Scale travels the world to convince us of an idea that has been widely held for decades: Cities are better off when they put more thought into how pedestrians move throughout them. A wider-reaching doc with similar production values would be welcome at art houses, but this oddly blindered film has limited commercial prospects.

Though it isn't a portrait of Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl (we learn nothing about his career or personal history, and don't see him all that much), the film behaves as if he is the world's sole, or at least preeminent, proponent of pedestrian-friendly design. Dalsgaard interviews numerous academics and city planners, but wherever he goes, from Copenhagen to New Zealand to Chongqing, China, there's an employee of Gehl Architects to explain things to us.

Sometimes that Gehl evangelist has a useful perspective: In Christchurch, New Zealand, the firm offers a window into ambitious plans to rebuild a central city that was devastated by a 2011 earthquake. But too often we're simply observing plans to close roads to auto traffic and open them to pedestrians instead. Though much is made of Gehl's work in quantifying the use pedestrians make of public spaces, the number-crunching stops there: We're never given figures that back up frequently made assertions that having more people on the street for longer periods of time makes them happier and healthier. (One interviewee says, in essence, that it's impossible to be a human being if you primarily commute via car.)

In their discussions of making megacities livable by limiting the height of buildings (to, say, six stories) in order to encourage street life, no one addresses the question of what would happen to the people who live and work above the sixth floor: How far do cities need to sprawl out to accommodate their new low-rise dwellings? And can we imagine some means of getting them from work to home—subways are never discussed; buses get a single mention—other than walking?

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here