Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  52 minutes
Date:  2007
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English / English subtitles
Grade level: 7-9, 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Great Expectations

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A journey through innovative, futuristic, utopian and sometimes bizarre architecture projects.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations provides an astonishing journey through innovative, futuristic, utopian and sometimes bizarre architecture projects-including concrete illusions of grandeur and Lego-like modular apartments to an Instant City Airship and round, grass-covered subterranean dwellings-from the beginning of the 20th century to today.

Since the end of the 19th century, due to industrialization and rapid technological progress, mankind has been confronted with new problems and possibilities. Visionary architects and artists, motivated by contemporary problems, including housing shortages, urban decay and pollution, set about to create changes in our ways of living that challenged conventional concepts of the good, the true and the beautiful.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS introduces us to the most significant architectural movements and personalities of the 20th century, including, among many others, Le Corbusier's functionalist cities, Buckminster Fuller's lightweight geodesic domes, Moshe Safdie's Habitat '67 prefab apartments, Rudolf Steiner's Goetheanum and other anthroposophy buildings in Switzerland, Oscar Niemeyer's sleek urban designs for Brasilia, Paolo Soleri's 'archology' of crystal-like desert cities, Antti Lovag's curved surfaces of Palais Bulles in France, Jacque Fresco's utopian Venus Project in Florida, and Peter Cook and Colin Fournier's biomorphic Kunsthaus Graz in Austria.

Using archival and contemporary footage, animation and interviews, GREAT EXPECTATIONS tells the fascinating story of these grand architectural visions, both realized and unrealized, as explained by great thinkers with revolutionary, if not always successful, ideas.

'...an eye-opener for those wedded to conventional thinking about design and the way built environments and structures can interact with human beings and influence human behavior.'-Anthropology Review Database, December 2011

'Exciting... these architects seldom get the chance to speak freely in this way. This gives the content weight and lends plausibility to their visions... GREAT EXPECTATIONS gives one an appetite for visionary architecture.'-RUM

'Astounding images or more or less bizarre projects are intertwined with fantastic interview material... a documentary that treats the viewer seriously.'-Svenska Dagbladet


Main credits

Chilvers, Simon (Narrator)

Other credits

Cinematographer, Simon Pramsten; animations, M©ans Swanberg, Pistachios; music, Silverbullit.

Distributor credits

A Journey through the History of Visionary Architecture

A Film by Jesper Wachtmeister

Docuseek2 subjects

History of Architecture
Urban Studies
Art History

Distributor subjects

US and Canadian Broadcast Rights
Urban Studies


Architects; Planners; Visionaries; visionary; utopian; buckminster; fuller; architecture; design; futiristic; documentary; Rudolf Steiner; Le Corbusier; Levitt and Sons; Brasilia; Archigram; Expo; Antti Lovag; Peter Vetsch; Paolo Soleri; The Venus Project; film; video; DVD; "Great Expectations"; Icarus Films;

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