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BauNetz                                         29.9.23

von Ulrike Alber-Vorbeck

Entstanden ist ein vielschichtiges Portrait der als Gartenstadt am Fuß des Himalayas konzipierten „Beautiful City“ – informationsreich, erhellend und atmosphärisch zugleich. Wer mit Chandigarh bisher in erster Linie die ikonischen Bauten des als UNESCO-Welterbe gelisteten Capitol Complex assoziierte, wird fasziniert sein von dieser einzigartigen, in 56 Sektoren rechtwinklig angelegten, komplett durchgestalteten Stadt der Moderne mit ihren Freiräumen, Parkanlagen, Schwimmbädern und geschützten Bäumen, mit ihren Kulturbauten, Universitäten und Gotteshäusern. 


Appenzeller Zeitung               21.9.23

von Mark Riklin

«Die Utopie ist die Realität von Morgen», sagte Le Corbusier vor 70 Jahren. Das damalige Morgen ist unsere heutige Realität. Inwieweit ist die Utopie Realität geworden, fragt der Film «Kraft der Utopie».


SwissInfo                                               31.8.23

von Alan Matti

Andererseits passt die Reaktion zum Thema, denn Chandigarh ist im runde ein einziger riesiger Rorschachtest: In Indien als "Schöne Stadt" bezeichnet, wurde sie sowohl als städtebauliches Meisterwerk gefeiert als auch als bizarrer Akt des Kulturimperialismus verurteilt, als Versuch, Indien westliche Fortschrittsvorstellungen aufzuzwingen, nur wenige Jahre nach der erfolgreichen Ablösung des britischen Raj. 


St.Galler Tagblatt                         22. 8.23

von Christina Genova

«Kraft der Utopie» weckt die Sehnsucht nach einer Stadt, wo die Menschen im Mittelpunkt stehen. Wo kein seelenloses Renditeobjekt nach dem andern hochgezogen wird, wo es bezahlbaren Wohnraum und eine hohe Lebensqualität für alle gibt, Orte der Begegnung, des Rückzugs und der Erholung.



KEYSTONE SDA               17. 8.23

von Raphael Amstutz

Die Stadt sei nach dem Ende der britischen Kolonialherrschaft, somit nach der blutigen Aufteilung von Indien in Pakistan und Indien entstanden. "Eine Utopie kann in einem solchen Zeitpunkt wie ein Phönix aus der Asche sein", so die Regisseurin.



NZZ Le Corbusier Steinrauschen             25.8.23

von Andres Herzog

Le Corbusier hat Chandigarh nach universellen Werten konzipiert, die im Westen in manchen Kreisen in Verruf geraten sind. Ausgangspunkt seiner Architektur war der Mensch, was in markantem Kontrast zu aktuellen utopischen Idealstädten steht wie «The Line» in Saudiarabien.


Living with Le Corbusier in Chandigarh

Markus Zinsmaier

Patterns, shapes, colours, light: it is a floating view from above with which Karin Bucher and Thomas Karrer approach an urban utopia of the last century in their essayistic documentary film. What appears to be a geometric construct is a drone view of the Indian city of Chandigarh. What does the planned city mean for us today? What can planned urban development achieve and where does real life begin?


It is a European view of an unfamiliar India that the camera takes as it explores buildings, streets and landscapes. And yet it is always close to the protagonists: four cultural and architectural figures from a pulsating metropolis. Like a flâneur, the camera explores the city, curious, pausing, reflecting and yet open to everything the camera eye perceives for the first time. The stories intermingle: the historical development of the civil servant city and the personal stories of the inhabitants of this unusual Indian "small town" with more than 1 million inhabitants. At some point, the boundaries become almost indistinguishable.


What makes us what we are? What role do socialisation, architecture and landscape play? Do we become other people in a foreign environment, culture? How do we want to live? "POWER OF UTOPIA" asks such questions, but also can we leave our European gaze behind to merge into the foreign?


Chandigarh, designed as a planned city by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s with an army of architects, is a testimony to modernity. Quite similar to Oscar Niemeyer's almost contemporaneous design for the Brazilian administrative city of Brasilia. The difference lies in the details: while the administrative employees from Rio de Janeiro had to be literally forced to move to Brasilia, the inhabitants of Chandigarh have now made the Indian city their own. As desolate, crumbling and outdated as the concrete may be in one place or another, Chandigarh is colourful, colourful and green in other places. 1/3 of the area is covered by trees.  "The city beautiful", say the inhabitants. Chandigarh will remain a special place in 2023, surrounded by the states of Punjab and Haryana, far enough away from the Indian metropolises of Delhi and Mumbai, a garden city at the foot of the Himalayas. A utopia?


For cultural workers, it is an almost ideal place in India: open, green, creative, cosmopolitan, full of possibilities. The parks and green spaces for the general public already hint at what is common sense nowadays, the linking of architecture and nature, inside and outside as a merging togetherness. Bucher / Karrer trace this togetherness, in interviews, in the chaos of everyday life, the different sectors, ruptures of a city that in 1947 was a planned city and today is modernity in action. Or as the actor and urban activist G.S. Chani says in the film, who himself lives in one of the simpler sectors: "We have it better than the rich people. We don't have big lawns in front of our houses, we have big parks." The rich look at their small plot of green, everyone else owns the city and its vibrant life.


Between the legacy of British colonial rule, civil war and partition, something has developed in the still young Indian democracy that fascinates and irritates at the same time: the controversial Gesamtkunstwerk Chandigarh. Documentary footage embeds the emergence of the city in Indian history. Everything is designed. The original city planning has remained untouched to this day. There is no dense building. Houses, trees and streets are protected. In Chandigarh, traffic rolls along predetermined main axes. The former emptiness has filled up with vehicles. The residential areas are silent. Access roads lose themselves in cul-de-sacs. Trees line the way, flowers. Slums have settled in the suburbs.


Chandigarh is a strange city: austere, colourful, open. The Pakistani border is not far, the average income per capita the highest in India. A place of longing. The architect Le Corbusier, who was sometimes criticised in Europe, created something here that has stood the test of time. Criticised in Europe, he has his strongest supporters here.


As a viewer of "POWER OF UTOPIA", you immerse yourself in this city together with the filmmakers and thus in a culture that is foreign to us.  The driving music of the Indian musician Atul Sharma sets the rhythm, the camera the colour. Hidden things are revealed, short impressions of a life that is conceivably far removed from our European one and yet seems almost European for India. It is this contradiction that feeds the tension of "POWER OF UTOPIA". Who are we and what do we want to be? Chandigarh - the film - provides impressive images for this, discusses fundamental questions between East and West, colonialism and imperialism, and thus shows an interpretation of our modern life.

Une ville à Chandigarh
Film von Alain Tanner / John Berger 1965


Radio SRF 2 KULTUR _ Nachrichten 07.00 _
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