This short documentary film is the second part of a larger series hosted by Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher, and literary critic whose studies in the 20th century included attention to cities and architecture that persists in influence into the present day.
In this film, Mumford accuses the automobile of mutilating and deforming American communities. For a film released in 1963, the arguments made here seem to have had little effect, as the dominance of the automobile continues until today, but these arguments are still relevant, potentially serving a more informed, rejuvenated political opposition to the dominance of the automobile in contemporary terms.
In a twist, the film traces the ills of car-dependency to common characteristics found in the history of previous modes of transportation, namely railroads, but the film's most biting criticisms are aimed at the mid-20th century's expensive commitment to the automobile. That commitment lasts until this day, of course, with much more evidence now available about the consequences of the car dependence criticized here by Mumford. The film also presents a model of a more efficient approach to land use and transportation planning, exemplified by The Netherlands, and calls for restrictions on the use of cars in cities, where, according to Mumford, public transit and pedestrianism should serve most transportation needs.
This course is approved for 0.5 AICP CM credit.