ANTONIO GAUDÍ (Criterion, 1984) D: Hiroshi Teshigahara. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN
Antonio Gaudi designed buildings like no others, graceful curved structures supported by impossibly leaning pillars, richly decorated in the broadest range of styles, colours and textures imaginable. No two of his structures are alike. They’re beautiful to look at and by all accounts wonderful to live in.
Gaudí (1852-1926) was a product of Catalonia, the same Spanish region that gave us Salvador Dalí. He took his inspiration from nature, from the austere monastary where he studied, and from his devout Catholicism. Art critic Robert Hughes details all this and much more in his hour-long look at Gaudí for the BBC. A good thing, too, because you’ll find none of it of it in Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 72-minute tour of Gaudí’s work.
Teshigahara, a visual artist best known here for Woman In The Dunes (1964), approaches his subject as one artist looking at the work of another. He begins with shots of typical Barce-lona architecture and street life, then moves on to shots of Gaudí’s work. There’s music, but no narration, and only two lines of dialogue.
The movie works because Gaudí’s buildings work. Teshigahara composes good shots in small scale and large, but he tends to move on when we want to linger. That’s why God gave us the pause button. What Teshigahara doesn’t do is convey a sense of space, the experience of being inside one of these buildings. Small failing for a good look at great art.
EXTRAS Disc one: Full-frame. Spanish audio. English subtitles. Disc two: Original Teshigahara footage, architect Arata Isozaki interview, 15-minute and one-hour BBC docs, Teshigahara short. Letterboxed, full-frame, colour, b&w. English, Japanese, Spanish audio. English subtitles. Booklet.