Plot: What’s it about?
In simple terms, this is a documentary film. There is no real narrative involved however, instead we’re just taken on a tour of sorts. So while I can write a synopsis in most cases for documentaries, Antonio Gaudi is a different kind of beast, as this is not a story so much as an exploration. Antonio Gaudi was of course a world famous architect in Barcelona and here, filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara puts Gaudi’s work on film to showcase the man’s immense talents. A brief amount of time is spent on an interview, but by and large, this is just a visual exploration of Gaudi’s work. So if this synopsis seems brief, I do apologize, but given the nature of this movie, I wasn’t able to do much else.
This is a unique release for The Criterion Collection, as Antonio Gaudi won’t appeal to fans of obscure cinema or international master filmmakers. This movie has its appeal in a very specific audience, those with a deep appreciation for architecture and the inspiration behind the creations. This movie tends to focus on the former much, much more than the latter however, as in depth analysis isn’t found here. So while Teshigahara has some interesting films on his resume, Antonio Gaudi is an unusual entry and not one fans of his other work will likely seek out. Even so, I was glad I took the time to watch this movie, as the visuals were impressive and its hard not to appreciate the skill and vision on showcase. However, I doubt I will ever return to Antonio Gaudi and at such a high price point, its hard to justify a purchase. But for those with an interest in architecture, this is a powerful look at a master’s work and as such, earns a rental recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Antonio Gaudi is presented in full frame, as intended. The previous release was rather lackluster, so this new restored anamorphic version is a welcome upgrade. The softness and shimmering that plagued the previous transfer are in check this time around, so the image looks impressive. You’ll still see some flaws here and there, but the image is much cleaner and clearer than before. I wouldn’t call the visuals crystal clear, but detail is improved and subtle problems from before have been either reduced or eliminated. The colors look natural and contrast is consistent, quite a solid overall transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss in this section, as aside from music, there isn’t much audio present. The music sounds good, quite clear and free from harshness or distortion. What little dialogue there is sounds good too, but like I said, this movie is all about visuals, not the audio elements. This disc also includes optional English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The most substantial inclusion is Visions of Space: God’s Architect, an hour long BBC documentary that takes an in depth look at Gaudi and his work. This is a superb companion piece that fills in the substance behind the style we see in the main feature, a most welcome inclusion indeed. A brief piece on Gaudi by Ken Russell is also included, as are an interview with architect Arata Isozaki and a short film by Teshigahara titled Sculptures by Sofu. This release also includes footage from the director’s first visit to Spain, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.