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2 ‐ Two films for a new architectural journal's birth</br>Frame from the film Architecture d'aujourd'hui, 1930

2 | Two films for a new architectural
journal's birth (1930)

by Leonardo Ciacci

After a short time adjusting the format and trying out ways of packaging the documents we wanted to publish, Planum-Archive-Movies has managed to get noticed, as we had hoped. The visit counter has recently shown encouraging results. Rather than being appeased by this, though, such "success" stimulates our ambition to go beyond the idea of an "archive of curiosities" and make Movies an active column, of reflections on topics that, while tackled on the basis of past experience, continue to be presented again today.

After the first issues about town-planners' cinema, we now present two movies produced by a new architectural journal, "Architecture d'haujourd'hui", which thus demonstrate the desire to seek a new relationship with its readers in the European cultural debate of the 1930s regarding the modernization of cities. "Architecture d'aujourd'hui", the new journal launched in Paris in 1930, presents itself as an active agent of modernisation, commissioning three documentaries from the director Pierre Chenal, two of which (those remaining) are presented here. In this case, too, as Alessandra Redivo explains in the accompanying file, cinema speaks directly to the public, showing them not only the forms of the new rational architecture and the possibilities of reinforced concrete, but also the possibilities offered by the new architecture in everyday life.

Regarding this, it may be interesting to point out an excerpt from La Vita Operosa, the novel published in instalments in 1920 in the "Industrie Italiane Illustrate", by the Italian writer Massimo Bontempelli. Regarding one of the possible ways in which people could have "made lots of money" in Milan in 1919, Bontempelli has the protagonist of his novel imagine a new architecture of cement and glass skyscrapers, duly promoted by a new magazine, conceived to publicise the new forms of architecture made possible by the revolutionary construction materials. Bontempelli is ironic, surreal, at times satirical in his paradoxical narration, but also very serious in giving vent to the fear of change marking the expectations of Europe's city dwellers in those critical years. A few years later, in 1929, it was Antonio Gramsci who gave solid indications in his notebooks for the ideation of "typical magazines" aimed at educating the people, though no longer turning to paradox. "The elaboration of a collective conscience requires multiple initiatives and conditions. …there must be deduction and induction combined, the identification and distinction, positive demonstration and destruction of the old". These indications are all perfectly applied in the two films by the director Chenal. His special collaborator was Le Corbusier, the unsurpassed master of those "successive combinations" of words and images with which, rightly or wrongly, he demolished old signs and meanings and at the same time built up a new language for city architecture and town planning.

Future updates of this column will from now on, as in this case, focus on one of the themes that motivated the production of films which, in different ways, then assumed a role in town-planning practices. We would in this way like to give the archive we are constructing an increasingly vital, propositional role. In this way, Archive-Movies can gather in ideas from "visitors" wishing to point out or send archive or newly produced material for publication (some have already done so). These will be suitably placed in the context of the interests that motivated the production and/or reproposal. The invitation to be actively involved in construction of this column is therefore renewed, along with our thanks to those who have already accepted our offer.