Movie Analysis Chinatown

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Movie Analysis: Chinatown
Artworks in their nature are creations that are often inspired by the various issues on the
environment, the society, and nature as a whole. Films as part of the artworks are also inspired
by the events that take place around the artist as they use it as a form of communication. Art
imitates life is one way of looking at the connection between art and the society. However, one
may also argue that life imitates art due to the rising of the popular culture that most of which
normally come from movies. Based on the argument of the use of art to describe the surrounding,
the paper herein looks at the movie Chinatown concerning various themes such as city planning,
urbanization, and environmental issues.
Chinatown is one of the greatest environmental movies of all times as it looks at the
various aspects of the environment such as planning, conservation among other concepts. One of
the major environmental issues that come up in the movie is the water shortage and the water
policy that has continued to affect California and Los Angles as well. For example, in the movie,
the diabolical mogul, Noah Cross invents a water shortage so that the city of Los Angles can be
constructed on the aqueduct. As a result, the great business person in the town rushes to buy the
lands on the Valleys in anticipation that the land would be valuable when the city is built. The
latter scene shows that various factors can lead to urbanization in a town or a city and the
availability of utilities such as water and electricity are among the factors. For example, the
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building of the aqueduct in Los Angles affected the value of the land around the place, and many
people come to buy the land as they believed that the water facility would attract more people to
the place.
Urbanization has a significant effect on the water cycles and if not controlled through
proper planning and regulations may lead to the depletion of the main sources (Southworth,
Michael and Eran Ben-Joseph, 68). The latter is one of the themes that come out from the movie
the Chinatown, and it can be seen from the protests staged by the public against the excessive
siphoning of water from the Owen valleys by the cartels. Some of the important effects of
urbanization on the water sources include the removal of the natural vegetation, loss of the
rainfall absorbing capacity of the soil among other adverse effects on the environment and the
main sources of water. The residents of Owen’s valley were unhappy with the cartels that were
keen to drawing water from the aqueduct without considering the effect of their actions on the
people living close to the source. According to Wong, Tony (56), urbanization also has a
significant impact on the water catchment areas due to the reduced number of trees, lower
evapotranspiration and increased the frequency of the surface runoffs. The increased runoff often
result in intense local flooding and droughts during the dry weather are deeper and longer, some
of the experiences seen in the movie the Chinatown.
Urban planning is a technical and political process, and it involves the development of
the use of land protection, environment and the public welfare within a country. Politics play an
important role in urban planning as it is involved in making the critical decision needed to
implement the planning policies (Corburn and Jason, 112). Political interference has a significant
effect on the planning process as the politicians make decisions that affect the implementation of
the urban planning policies. As a result, personal interests of the politicians often override the
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public interests leading to the formation and implementation of policies that are likely to affect
the planning process (Corburn and Jason, 118). In Chinatown, the politicians and the people in
power are seen as dishonest people whose decisions are meant to protect their interests. For
example, Cross who is an influential official in the city uses his powers and money to run the
city and takes advantage of the people under him for his gains. The actions of many powerful
people in the town such as the District Attorney in Chinatown and the Lieutenant Escober is seen
as an obstacle to implementing better planning policies for the interest of the public.
When a city is infiltrated by the cartels who are a small group of individuals controlling
the city, the public is likely to be the victims. The small group of politicians or the powerful
people in the society often affects the way service is delivered to the common people. In most
cases, the common people have to suffer the consequences to protect the desires of the cartels.
Policies created are usually meant to protect the self-interests of the individual with little care
about service delivery to the public. The latter can be considered as the effect of bad leadership
that affects most cities and towns today. In Chinatown, the city of Los Angles is controlled by a
clique of individuals lead by Noah Cross whose interests are to use their powers to protect their
interests. For example, the water and irrigation systems that transformed the American West are
turned from serving the public interest to serving the individual interests. At this point, the writer
of the movie tries to show his viewers how corruption and politics can affect service delivery as
well as the intention of the planners. The killing of Hollis by Cross for interfering with his plans
for the new reservoir is a significant proof of the corruption in the city.
The Los Angle’s water and irrigation system was an important resource to the people
living in the neighborhood, and it offered them an opportunity for farming as their livelihood.
However, the effect of corruption turns the irrigation system from benefiting the farmers to
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benefit Cross and his already rich associates. One of the important considerations in urban
planning is to promote sustainability, environmental conservation, and livelihood to the people
living in the urban area. The urban area should be planned and organized in a manner that it does
not interfere with the lives of the common people and the future generation. Therefore,
promoting a green environment and protecting the water catchment areas is an important way of
promoting proper planning. The movie China town is an example of how various factors affect
urban planning. The film also highlights possible effects of poor planning on the environment
and the lives of the people living in the towns as well as those living in the neighborhoods.
Corruption, politics, leadership, and unethical moves are also cited as some of the major factors
that might lead to poor planning.
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Works Cited
Corburn, Jason. Toward the healthy city: people, places, and the politics of urban planning. Mit
Press, 2009.
Southworth, Michael, and Eran Ben-Joseph. "Street standards and the shaping of
suburbia." Journal of the American Planning Association 61.1 (1995): 65-81.
Wong, Tony HF. "An overview of water sensitive urban design practices in Australia." Water
Practice and Technology 1.1 (2006): wpt2006018.

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