Not rated | Time: 1:17
By DAVID DeWITT
The New York Times
It seems like youre at a tipping point between becoming L.A. or becoming Copenhagen, the narrator of The Human Scale says to an urban planner for Christchurch, New Zealand, a city rebuilding from an earthquake in 2011.
In this film, Los Angeles with its worship of the automobile is the bad. Copenhagen, with public spaces that allow citizens to mix, is the good. Thats the gospel of Gehl Architects, the Danish firm that guides this films vision of cities that encourage human interaction.
Writer/director Andreas Dalsgaards documentary celebrates that quality in Siena, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; and New York. It points out the challenges faced by Dhaka, Bangladesh, and especially Chongqing, China, which is in a nation fast changing from agrarian to urban.
History is touched upon Robert Moses, Le Corbusier and theres an insightful diversity of neighborhoods pictured within each of the cities mentioned. The information is a bit narrow, but the point of view sincere. (Among the things that make these planners sigh with pleasure: bike lanes and low-rise buildings.)
The talk is not of futuristic utopias, however, but of brick-and-mortar ways to create environments according to the creed of the films title. If the result sometimes feels like a sedate lecture, the global journey strongly enlivens the lesson; its fascinating how alike and how different cities can be, and more fascinating to imagine what they may become.
(At the Tivoli.)
| David DeWitt, The New York Times