New Town Utopia

New Town Utopia 15

Cities, Future Cities, and Film

Film

Please note: This was screened in Oct 2019

Director:
Christopher Ian Smith
Cast:
Jim Broadbent, Terry Bird, Vincent O'Connell
Duration:
80 mins, 2018, UK
Primary language:
English

The New Towns which sprung up around Britain after the Second World War were a utopian response to that conflict and the housing problems caused by the bombing of cities. For decades from 1946 onwards new towns were built creating new housing and modern facilities. Many were initially successful economically, but by the turn of the millennium some were facing problems. The New Towns had become middle-aged and tired. Quickly-built poor-quality housing for car-dependent populations make them unsustainable; infrastructure needs renewal. What happened to the utopian dream? As we embark on ‘New’ New Towns and new council estates, what can this experience tell us about building sustainable communities, cities and towns today?

New Town Utopia tells the challenging, funny and sometimes tragic story of the British new town of Basildon. Comparing the utopian words of Attlee’s post-war planning minister Lewis Silkin with the reality of the town now, the Guardian called it an 'absorbing and heartening documentary portrait of Basildon in Essex, conceived as a super-modern utopian development for the forelock-tugging working classes after the second world war… an unapologetically upbeat film in which utopianism is taken unexpectedly seriously.

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