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Criterion Blu-ray: Antonio Gaudí (1984) | Video Blu-ray Review

A hypnotic homage serving as part-travelogue, part visionary curation of Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi’s (1852-1926) masterworks in Barcelona, Japanese auteur Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1984 documentary on the artist will reveal little about either its subject or its director beyond the latter’s loving penchant for the former’s achievements. Gaudi, a founder of Catalan Modernism and eventually what became known as the Modernista movement, is the creator of, among many idiosyncratic structures, Spain’s most visited touristic attraction, the unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia (a visual exploration of which is where Teshigahara’s film ends). A beautiful rendering of Barcelona’s exceptional landscapes (lensed by Jurichi Sagawa, Ryu Sagawa and Yoshikazu Yanagida), the trance-like documentary is enhanced by an exceptional, often moody score from Shinji Hori, Kuroda Mori and Toru Takemitsu (who scored Teshigahara’s 1964 masterpiece Woman in the Dunes (read review) as well as Kurosawa’s 1985 Ran and the Philip Kaufman feature Rising Sun, 1993).

Teshigahara, an artist with a supremely varied background, is perhaps best known for his early narrative features in the 1960s, including Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964) and The Face of Another (1966). His Antonio Gaudi is a personal reverie of the architect, and as such, is a beautiful piece of filmed imagery but yields little to no information about either of them. The brief snippets of language included in the documentary simply reveal how some of Gaudi’s architecture had to be rebuilt and redesigned after it was partially destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. What’s helpful (and even necessary) are the variety of special bonus features available on Criterion’s rerelease of this title (it was originally released by the Collection in 2008), which includes a documentary on Gaudi as well as other noted filmmakers influence or inspired by his architecture, including Ken Russell.

Film Rating: ★★★★/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc Rating: ★★★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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