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Amazing video perspective on Los Angeles, filmed for French TV in 1969

Kaid Benfield

Posted September 13, 2012

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  vintage postcard (curated by Boston Public Library, creative commons)

This three-minute video is almost haunting in its poetic but spare portrayal of what was then seen as the city of the future.  In presenting LA from an outsider’s point of view, the little film was also unknowingly showing profound changes that were beginning to be experienced all across America in the form of sprawling suburban development, inner-city disinvestment, and an emerging culture of civic detachment and isolation.  The perspective is not pejorative so much as presented with a sense of discovery and wonder.

The narration is in French with subtitles, and a bonus is that the narrator speaks slowly, enabling those of us who are almost but not quite fluent in the language to practice our listening.  This is highly recommended:


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Kaid Benfield writes about community, development, and the environment on Switchboard and in other national media.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  Please also visit NRDC’s Sustainable Communities Video Channels.

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TWFSep 20 2012 12:27 PM

L.A. is the same now - only bigger, virtually no open space (unlike in the video). I guarantee you those homes featured in the video still exist, only instead of $23,000 for each house, they're $800,000 (rotting floor boards and all, even in an economic slump). Also, everything seems slow in that video - slow cars, slow walking, slow life - not so anymore. Also, there is an incredible amount of transiency in L.A. because of the nature of economics here (Hollywood), so that exacerbates the lack of place and accountability to it.

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