An ode to the street which once was, as an open place where people lived and played. But an equally vivid case against the street which has degenerated into a mere locus for traffic.
The film De straat (The Street) begins with images of a protest in a street. These are immediately followed by shots of a motorway, filmed from above. The accompanying text is revealing: "Of the street not much is left but a traffic road - a movement machine, as Le Corbusier described it[...] The habitable space of the city, the street, has degenerated into a pure locus for traffic." The car has destroyed the street and community life, and the images reinforce this story of loss. Shots of Belgian cities, overrun by cars and trucks, alternate with idyllic sequences of places in Italy where children spend entire days on the street. In short, the film is a vivid case against motorized traffic in our cities.
In 1973, Cornelis received the La Prague Dorée Award for his The Street, presented at the 10th Prague Television Festival. This marked the beginning of the film’s triumphal march across Europe.
‘Once mobility becomes an individual affair, the street changes. The unbuilt space is gone. The street has become hazardous. Stations, shopping malls and so on have become places of refuge – but they are one-sided, monofunctional places. People don’t live in malls – all you have is shops.’
‘So much more depends on the viewer. That’s the reason I’m so fond of cinema – pictures can be interpreted in more ways than texts can.’