Great Expectations is the first documentary to present the grand architectural visions of our time. Visions where imagination has been allowed to run free – sometimes utopian and unbound by earthly conditions, sometimes realized and revolutionary to a project’s inhabitants.
But the film deals with far more than grand visions. It is the story of great thinkers who in different time-periods of the 20th century have suggested revolutionary changes to our ways of living. It is also the story of what it is like to live in their realized dreams. The answers vary, but the film shows that the intentions of the architects were good…mostly.
Using a mixture of archival footage, recent Super 16 mm footage, and animation, the film brings architecture of the past and plans never realized to life. The inhabitants of some of the realized visions are also interviewed as a counter-weight to the utopian ambitions of the architects described in the film.
In Switzerland, people from the village near Goetheanum talk about Rudolph Steiner who built the concrete cranium in the Alps as a peace project that ultimately went up in flames. In France, one of the oldest inhabitants of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation describes how the complex could have gone from disaster to success – in spite of the brutal con-crete environment.
In Brasilia, an undertaker tells us what he thinks of the architects Niemeyer and Costa’s design of the gravestones for the city. And in Levittown, USA – the first and vastest of suburbias – inhabitants tell of annoying neighbors, suspicion of strangers and how good it was to finally find your way home in a place where all the houses were one and the same.