Trafficopter, a 1972 National Film Board documentary by Barrie Howells, isn’t especially insightful, but it is certainly stylish. Following the traffic reporter for a Montreal radio station as he soars above the morning rush hour in a small helicopter, it gazes down at a miniature city caught up in the interminable grind of daily commerce.
There are plenty of captivating images here, both of Montreal from above and some long-vanished places like the Montreal Star‘s newsroom. The last few minutes of the film, which depict the city smoking and steaming in the frigid air of a winter morning, are by far the most memorable. There’s also an interesting bit where the reporter mentions that the pollution he encounters flying over the city every day led to an infection in one of his lungs — a reminder that Montreal is probably a lot cleaner now than it was for most of its industrial history.
A nice companion piece to Trafficopter is this short clip from Luc Bourdon’s La mémoire des anges. Here, we see the Turcot Interchange shortly after its construction, images of its soaring concrete spans set to audio of mayor Jean Drapeau musing, in a very 1960s way, about the need for traffic to circulate freely.
Tags: Highways, Montreal, National Film Board, Rush Hour, Traffic, Turcot, Views from Above