Lisboa de Hoje e de Amanhã (1948)

“Lisboa de Hoje e de Amanhã” (1948)

what now?

This is a terribly meaningful documentary for any Portuguese, certainly more now than when it was made. Placed in the right context, and with you having the right information to support it, may let you conclude terrible frightening things. I think watching now this as well as reflecting in the last 35 years of Portuguese can be more clarifying than any film, documentary, book, or anything made after April 25th and grasping the theme.

This is an example of propaganda documentary. This means we will watch a totally partial point of view, in every line favourable to the regime in question. In this case we watch all kinds of complements to the urban politics of Lisbon, 60 years ago. Basically this plan is the work of a remarkable man, Duarte Pacheco, who was not visionary, because he didn’t predict anything that wasn’t being done in other places, but he had the merit of updating Lisbon’s urban politics – which in those is the same to say that he actually created one. That plan is remarkable, though dated today, specially in the ideas of dwelling in urban contexts, in terms of typology (single and twin family houses in highly urban contexts is dreadful politics today) and social agglomeration (low cost housing, grouping all the disfavoured, also dated politics today). Of course the success and efficiency of the plan depended on Pacheco (who died 5 years before this documentary) having full power to build and destroy, without negotiating with the populations involved. More interesting than anything is the idea of the “urban lung”, materialized in the big Monsanto. Some dwelling projects are quite interesting, namely Alvalade. And of course, the rings that surround the city, is something contemporary and planned with a visionary scale (yes, here it was visionary), even though i think (not sure) not all the plan was completed.

The documentary has one great quality. It actually explains the plan, the idea, on location, on plant, on models. It does not depend of useless conceptual demonstrations, because people in those days didn’t depend on being shown iconic images as we do today. But many of the things we see there and especially most of the things we hear are perfectly laughable, and were already laughable in those days for anyone with a brain. The idea of making “monumental” so no one can be “ashamed” of the capital is ridiculous, as it is ridiculous the pride they take in grouping poor people like cattle by the more uninteresting parts of the city, while “beautiful houses” exist by the water side. Well, maybe we should treasure these commentaries, they are naive and for that less hypocrite than what we hear these days.

A much more sad thing is to think that the documentary is totally centered in an underdeveloped capital of a than terribly underdeveloped country and that the works we see being made to modernize the place were insufficient to make the city have the conditions of other European cities, and worst than that, were the only ones made in that scale in the whole country. So, we have that ugly fascist principle of making one single enterprise stand for the whole country, who slowly died in those days.

But the really sad thing is this: these guys, 60 years ago, had the same speech as the nerds we have today ruling the country. They had the speech of “this was all wrong and now we’re cleaning the country”. Basically, deviating the responsibility for their inability and the little ambition they place in the errors “someone” made in the past. So if they updated what was behind them, and for the last 35 years we’ve been updating what those guys left us, who will update the things we are Not making now? See the sad thing about this? When will we start doing something good, instead of just “making up” for what others have done? What a vicious circle.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb

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