Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
When Frank Gehry asked personal friend Sydney Pollack to direct a documentary about his work, Pollack thought he was crazy. He says he knew nothing about architecture or making documentaries. To that Gehry responded, “That’s why you’re perfect.”
This film takes a cursory look at Gehry’s work as a whole, while showcasing a few of his major structures including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, the DG Bank in Berlin and the staggering Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Dennis Hopper, Bob Geldof, and Gehry’s own personal therapist of 35 years are also featured in the film.
In an interview Pollack describes architecture and as filmmaking as ‘mosaic arts,’ not just one form of art but a combination of many. Gehry confesses in the film that he desires to be a painter and laments the fact that he could never be one. “Oh yeah?” comes Pollack’s voice-over as he cuts to Gehry’s emotionally moving and inspiring textured surfaces awash with their own inherent colors, and changing according to the weather and play of light.
The sensual and musical qualities often described by admirers of Gehry’s work, could have been better illustrated through the language of the film. The score, while sufficient, lacked the proper momentum and flow to communicate the sublimity of Gehry’s work, and the visuals lacked a certain embodied substance.
Although Gehry’s structures have become major tourist destinations (Bilbao received 700,000 visitors in the first year) and are often referred to as spectacles, he appears surprisingly humble as he converses with Pollack. He explains, “When you are younger…you’re seeking some kind of impossible perfection.” He concludes, “You realize as you mature that there’s no there.”
The film ends on the image of Gehry’s hand (golden hands, as one of his teachers called them) trailing down the interior wall of one his creations. The gesture signifies the innate humanism of his work, and recalls the idealism of the young artist who dreams of changing the world.
DVD Extras B-