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The Unforeseen (2008)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 4

A calm documentary that doesn't resort to shrill polemics, The Unforeseen also benefits from great interview subjects and jaw-dropping cinematography.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 1

A calm documentary that doesn't resort to shrill polemics, The Unforeseen also benefits from great interview subjects and jaw-dropping cinematography.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 841

My Rating

Movie Info

In the 1980s, an ambitious real estate developer came to Austin, Tex., with a dream--to transform miles of pristine wilderness into a sprawling self-sufficient city. When the development threatened a local treasure, a fragile limestone aquifer and a naturally spring-fed swimming hole, the community decided to fight back. Laura Dunn's lyrical and beautifully crafted documentary uses this landmark struggle--a microcosm of what's happening in communities across the country today--to consider the


Documentary, Special Interest

Laura Dunn

Sep 30, 2008

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All Critics (38) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (4) | DVD (2)

By turns rapturously beautiful and unspeakably sad while considering the consequences of unchecked urban sprawl.

June 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even if the director eventually hard-pedals her pantheist imagery into cliché, this inconvenient truth is discreet, intimate and regularly surprising.

May 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Plainspoken yet urgent, it makes the wrist-slashingly depressing topic of real-estate development somehow transcendent.

May 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
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No one who sees this intriguing documentary will want to argue with reporter Greider when he forcefully insists, "We need a more mature regard for the future." We do indeed.

March 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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[Cinematographer] Daniel has never shot a film for Malick, though you'd hardly guess so, given The Unforeseen's poetic and dreamy shots of nature that, like the images that open the Malick's "The Thin Red Line," hint at an Earthly paradise.

March 14, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Unforeseen is a poetic and high-minded meditation on American developers' manifest destiny and the cancer it introduces into the natural world.

March 10, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If The Unforeseen has a fault, it would be a slight lack of focus. A flawed, but beautiful documentary.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: GreenCine

Powerful study of a landmark struggle between environmentalists and real estate developer in Austin, Texas in the early 90s. A parable for our exhausted, consumerist society that is choking itself to death.

January 23, 2009 Full Review Source:

The result is an expansive and ambivalent testament to human ingenuity, human intransigence, and nature's endangered yet enduring power to move.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

A thought-provoking documentary that's both informative and strangely poignant--as well as beautifully shot and edited.

June 20, 2008 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Laura Dunn captures the national ecological battle in microcosm...

April 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

This one purports to be different by including interviews with the evil, rich developers, but the film is very subtly slanted away from them.

March 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Helmer [Laura] Dunn, though her heart is on her sleeve, gives an even-handed view of things from both sides.

March 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

What do Willie Nelson and one of the world's biggest environmental killers have in common? Austin Texas! A very local perspective on the corporate war on the environment

March 4, 2008
Monsters and Critics

Though fittingly directed by Laura Dunn, one can't help but feel the presence of producer Terrence Malick.

March 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

[Director Laura] Dunn's elegant, full-length debut presents a frightening and powerful argument against the kind of reckless, profit-driven land development that not only threatens natural resources, but life itself.

February 29, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Calling The Unforeseen a documentary somehow feels crass. It's a work of art.

February 29, 2008 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Unforeseen

Although directed by Laura Dunn, who utilizes landscape shots and historical footage paired with casual interviews in an everyday, passively poetic manner, one can't help but feel the presence of producer Terrence Malick. Also utilized are the dreamlike tones and lush, organic textures even as it dishes out the facts and statistics, having far more in common with the likes of The Thin Red Line than the entertaining and rigid An Inconvenient Truth. However, this documentary does take its' musical cues from Sigur Ros which add to the dreamlike quality.

Terrence Malick, a long time resident of Austin, originally conceived the idea for the film and Robert Redford spent his summers in Austin as a child. He learned to swim in the natural springs which feature so prominently in the film and became actively involved when he learned about the developments. The Unforeseen is inspiring in its examination of the power of the individual to fight for environmental preservation and urges viewers to choose between the importance of protecting the individual American's "right to pollute" and the need to secure a safe environment for our future and to do something about it.
August 11, 2008
El Hombre Invisible

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