Monday, March 22, 2010

The Unforeseen (2007)

Laura Dunn


Laura Dunn's feature-length directorial debut is a profoundly stirring, visually stunning, and emotionally overpowering work of epic beauty. Sharing a kinship with the film's executive producer, Terrence Malick, Dunn's lyrical nonfiction poem reaches levels of transcendence not often encountered in cinema. Malick and Robert Redford teamed up to executive produce this documentary about the problems of urban sprawl in Austin, Texas. An ambitious land developer there has big dreams, but they endanger beloved Barton Springs as well as the town as a whole. Redford defends the springs, the spot where he first learned to swim. Bradley's plan to build yet another subdivision that would disturb the beautiful natural swimming hole aroused a swell of communal emotion that challenged big business and development in a manner heretofore unseen. As Dunn tells her personal tale, using archival footage, gorgeous graphic effects, lush photography (courtesy of Lee Daniel), and present-day interviews with the formative players (Bradley, former governor Ann Richards, and many others), THE UNFORESEEN begins to speak on a much grander scale, challenging viewers to confront similar situations that continue to plague their own cities and neighborhoods. But where Dunn reveals her true humanity is in her portrait of Bradley, a reviled figure whom most opponents wouldn't take the time to try to understand. It is this rejection of anger and bitterness in favor of understanding and hope that makes THE UNFORESEEN such a transformative viewing experience and elevates it to greatness.


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