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The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History

The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History (2012)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

81

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 291

My Rating

Movie Info

May 23, 2012

$44.7k

First Run Features - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (2)

The personal stories told by former residents add a poignancy to the broad trends the film examines.

April 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pruitt-Igoe was the first, and most famous, example of the failure of that sort of public housing.

April 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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Using archival footage and interviews with former residents, Freidrichs adds human dimension and historical context to what is often viewed in simple terms as a misguided blip.

March 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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"The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" doesn't offer easy conclusions.

January 20, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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In some ways, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is more elegy than analysis.

January 20, 2012 Full Review Source: NPR
NPR
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This history is too recent to seem dry, and the film gets an added emotional punch from interviews with former tenants, whose memories mix fondness with anger and loss.

January 19, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Urban decay finds home in Pruitt-Igoe

April 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

Myth convinces that St. Louis failed Pruitt-Igoe, and not the other way around.

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Captivating, engrossing and enraging.

February 12, 2012 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

St. Louis housing project is immortalized as a symbol of failure

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

A thought-provoking, cinematic picking of the bones of the scattered exoskeleton of a once-promising 'poor man's penthouse.'

January 30, 2012 Full Review Source: AALBC.com
AALBC.com

The drugs, fear and violence cannot be shown but are palpable in the speakers' memories.

January 23, 2012 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

I quibble about facts emphasized or omitted, [but] the memorable images, valuable personal testimonies and... huge empty lot should help frame a discussion [on] urban policy.

January 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

Deeply impressive and disturbing exposť of what went terribly wrong with one hopeful post-War American housing experience.

January 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

The film ends on a note of courage, and a call-to-action that we "remember," naturally, but we can't completely buy it: What Freidrichs has accomplished is a portrait of unknowability.

January 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

...moving and revelatory.

July 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for The Pruitt-igoe Myth: An Urban History

History is often much more complex than originally presented. That is especially true with the heartbreaking documentary "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" about the failed eponymous housing projects in St. Louis that were built in the 1950's to house low income families who had previously lived in slums and imploded in the 1970's when it proved to be unsalvageable. Today that lot is populated only by trees, as nature seeks to reclaim the land.

Along with an excellent use of archival material to detail the horrible conditions of the slums, what St. Louis once looked like(there is a brief mention of proposed city improvements, only some of which came to fruition) and a before and after view of the projects which is stunning, the documentary makes great use of the former residents, who were scattered throughout the city after the projects closed, telling their own stories, starting with newspaper columnist Sylvester Brown in 2005 touring the vacant lot. This allows details of living in the projects to be filled in, such as the hope of the residents moving in from the slums into as one person puts it a "a penthouse for the poor." That same great view of St. Louis turns into a nightmare for authorities later when the buildings eventually became abandoned and the towers turn into lookout posts for criminals.

To the casual observer, it might seem like the idea of public housing was inherently at fault but there were other causes in play, some which the city leaders could foresee and others which were outside of their power. They thought the population of St. Louis would continue growing after World War II when it in effect it decreased dramatically due to white flight to the suburbs due to the same federal housing act of 1949 that made the projects possible, also allowed families to get a loan for a new home cheaper in the suburbs than renting an apartment in the city.(St. Louis was not the only city this happened to. It just had the perfect conditions.) As the city tax base fell apart, that gave the city less money to maintain the projects which instantly fell into a state of neglect and segregation, as jobs also migrated out to the suburbs away from where the workers lived. This gave the opponents more fuel against the projects as even the original proponents sometimes operated out of ulterior motives to clean up the city. The failure to mention mass transportation which probably also suffered is the documentary's only big misstep.
January 29, 2012
Harlequin68
Walter M.

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