Japanese master Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) made this unguided 1984 tour of the Modernismo architect’s iconic Barcelona landmarks—those trippy, drippy structures that suggest ray-gun enlargements of art nouveau’s nature contours. Something of a passion project, completed decades after an earlier visit by the director, the film is given over to an eager, rolling catalog of Gaudí’s fin de siècle works sans much voiceover or any explanatory text. The buildings narrate their architectural distinction well enough by themselves, from the pinnacles of La Sagrada Familia tapering to heaven like an ecclesiastical Emerald City, to the curvaceous honeycomb façade of the Casa Mila apartments. Not that the film lacks for commentary: Teshigahara, also a creator of ikebana, dwells on teardrop windows, seashell whorls, joint-like joists (though a brief overture recognizes medieval and Moorish influences besides the organic). Yet even at 72 minutes, the clarity of Gaudí’s artistic voice demands some countervailing presence. Toru Takemitsu’s partly electronic score mostly harps on the otherworldliness of it all, while Teshigahara’s shifting editing rhythms forestall outright contemplation. A mention of Gaudí’s fast before designing a Nativity scene tantalizingly hints at what else lies behind the mesmerizing continuities of his surfaces.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 29, 2008