Pre-Conference Film Series

De Lange Conference VII

"Transforming the Metropolis"

Free Admission (open to the public)

7:00 pm Monday January 12, 2009
Metropolis/ (144 minutes, B&W, Fritz Lang 1927)
This classic film is set in the year 2026, in the extraordinary Gothic skyscrapers of a corporate city-state, the metropolis of the title. Society has been divided into two rigid groups: one of planners or thinkers, who live high above the earth in luxury, and another of workers who live underground toiling to sustain the lives of the privileged. Completely separate, neither group can function without the other. One man from the "thinkers" dares visit the underground where the workers toil, and is astonished by what he sees. What ensues is a gripping account of urban inequality, protest, and the dramatic experiences of urbanites.

7:00 pm Monday, January 19, 2009
Chinatown (121 minutes, color, 1974)
Chinatown is set in the 1930s and portrays water department corruption. The characters Hollis Mulwray and Noah Cross are both references to the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, William Mulholland (1855-1935) — the name Hollis Mulwray is partially an anagram for Mulholland. The name Noah is a reference to a flood — to suggest the conflict between good and evil in Mulholland. Mulholland was the designer and engineer for the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brought water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. The dam Cross and the city want to build is opposed by Mulwray for reasons of engineering and safety. Mulwray says he will not make the same mistake as when he built a previous dam, which broke resulting in the deaths of hundreds. This is a direct reference to the St/ Francis Dam disaster. The dam was personally inspected by Mulholland himself before it catastrophically failed the next morning on March 12, 1928. More than 450 people, many of them school children died that day and the town of Santa Paula was buried. The incident effectively ended Mulholland's career and he died in 1935.

7:00 pm Monday, January 26, 2009
City of God (130 minutes, color, 2002)
Taking place over the course of over two decades, City of God tells the story of Ciadade de Deus (Portuguese for City of God), a lower class quarter west of Rio de Janeiro. The film is told from the viewpoint of a boy named Rocket (Busca pé in Portuguese) who grows up there as a fishmonger's son, and demonstrates the desperation and violence inherent in the slums. Based on a real story, the movie depicts drug abuse, violent crime, and a boy's struggle to free himself from the slums' grasp.

7:00 pm Monday, February 2, 2009
Megacities: 12 Stories of Survival (1998, 90 minutes)
Megacities is a 1998 film directed by Michael Glawogger This documentary deals with the human experiences of work, poverty, violence, love and sex. It is a film about human beauty in twelve chapters which tells the tales of people from Bombay, Mexico City, Moscow and New York, who are all struggling for survival, with ingenuity, intelligence and dignity. They all share the dream of a better life in the Big City at the dawn of a new millennium, a time when “the world city” is the dominant habitat for the majority of the Earth’s population. In the tradition of Mondo Cane (1961), this Austrian-Swiss documentary captures the eccentric underside of human behavior in a variety of slum settings throughout the world -- Moscow (subway thieves, a downbeat detox clinic, depressing life of a female factory-worker), Mexico City (family dining on chicken-feet soup, customers groping a nightclub stripper, dogs at dawn in a garbage dump), New York (a street hustler, a radio call-in show), Bombay (back-alley poverty, waders in polluted rivers). Made with a blow-up from Super 16, the film features Hindi, English, Spanish, and Russian dialogue. Shown at the 1998 Locarno Film Festival, the 1998 Toronto Film Festival, and the 1998 San Sebastian Film Festival.

7:00 pm Monday, February 9, 2009
Social Life of Small Urban Spaces /(60 minutes, 1988, William H. Whyte)
This entertaining documentary, Whyte's classic 1980 study of New York's plazas, started a mini-revolution in urban planning and design. In the 1970’s William H. Whyte convinced the New York City planning commission that if his team could determine what makes open spaces work, they would change the zoning laws to require that those elements be part of public plazas. Whyte's team, The Street Life Project, got to work. They selected plazas and parks that were well used. Then they set up cameras. They made diagrams. They wandered around and collected information about how people used the spaces. They documented the act of people eating lunch, shaking hands, moving chairs, and talking to themselves. Then they sorted through it, producing quantitative results. The final outcome was that the city accepted the research, and wrote a new zoning resolution for open spaces that reflected The Street Life Project's conclusions.


The Rice Media Center has a 246 person seating capacity. We advise arriving at least 15-20 minutes before show time.

Signs inside the campus, near entrances 1,2, and 8, provide directions to visitor parking. Paid parking is available between the Shepherd School of Music and Rice Stadium—Entrance 8, University Blvd. The fees are: $1 for each 35 minutes, with a $10 daily maximum. Parking fees must be paid via a credit card.


  • From U.S. 59N, exit Greenbriar Blvd.—turn right onto Greenbriar.
  • From U.S. 59S, exit Greenbriar Blvd.—turn left onto Greenbriar.
  • Continue on Greenbriar Blvd.—turn left onto University Blvd.
  • Turn left at Stockton—enter the Rice campus via Entrance 8.
  • The Media Center is the second building on the right.

Film Line: 713-348-4853


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