Japan’s Hiroshi Teshigahara: I dislike his fictional films. But his documentary Antonio Gaudí, about Catalan architect and sculptor Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet, is exceedingly beautiful and adventurous. Teshigahara, assisted by color cinematographers Junichi Segawa, Ryu Segawa and Yoshikazu Yanagida, has created a nearly silent waking dream, with one “talking head” who (very late) speaks for only a few minutes. We listen carefully.
Gaudí (1852-1926) derived his forms, he said, from the Book of Nature, and indeed one sees in his work the influence of honeycombs, spiraling seashells, the luxuriant growth of rough-textured trees, and regional caverns with their stalactites and stalagmites. Gaudí’s prolific work, which rambunctiously pursued curvilinear lines, especially turned Barcelona into a breathing, overflowing garden of public art. All this art still stands. One shot is framed so that a child glides backwards amongst columns that Gaudí designed—Teshigahara’s evocation, perhaps, of Cocteau’s use of reverse motion in the Underworld in Orphée (1949). But here it is daylight, the child is happy, alive, and a dip of the camera reveals she is on roller skates. She is unaware of the “art” she is maneuvering her way around, but in a sense those columns were designed and constructed for her, and the structure belongs to her by her use of it. Increasingly religious, Gaudí’s art is, at its best, splendiferous and mysterious.
Teshigahara’s slow camera movements in every conceivable direction, including inwards, take us on a journey. (Teshigahara edited—brilliantly.) We see connections in and influences (besides Nature) on Gaudí’s art: in the medieval past, the Romanesque that evolved into the Gothic; in the present, Art Nouveau. (Gaudí himself influenced Surrealism.) Thrillingly, we journey into a portion of the mind of humanity.
Antonio Gaudí is what Kubrick hoped his 2001 would be.
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