The sorrowful echo beneath Judith Paine McBrien’s accomplished documentary, “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City” is that contemporary urban planning of any sort of vision is largely unheard of: we need a Burnham and we get the latter-day acolytes of Robert Moses or we get… wait, who does Chicago have planning its future? On the hundredth anniversary of Burnham and Edward Bennett’s 1909 “Plan of Chicago,” a chunk of Chicago’s post-Great Fire past comes through Burnham’s faith in the future of cities, and McBrien effortlessly moves through his work around the country and the world, as well his collaborations with partner John Root on the Rookery and Monadnock buildings. His monumental achievements are moving in themselves; this is a fine study. 59m. (Ray Pride)
“Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City” plays Sunday and Monday at Siskel. McBrien will appear.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.