DVD: Antonio Gaudí (Criterion)

Order

Antonio Gaudí


English DVD Title (Region 1)

Antonio Gaudí

Sound:

Japanese (1.0 Mono)

Subtitles:
Length:
Release:
Company
:
Discs:
Aspect Ratio:

English
72 minutes
2008
Criterion
2
1.33:1 Anamorphic

Movie:

Antonio Gaudí

DVD

Extras

  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (24)
  • Trailers: Antonio Gaudí
  • Gaudí, Catalunya, 1959 (19 minutes)
  • Interview with architect Arata Isozaki (13 minutes)
  • BBC documentary God's Architect: Antonio Gaudí (59 minutes)
  • BBC series Monitor (16 minutes)
  • Sculptures by Sofu - Vita (17 minutes)
  • Essays by professor Dore Ashton and director Hiroshi Teshigahara (36 page booklet)

Captures


Review

By: Anthony Romero

Toho hasn't dabbled too much with documentaries, although they have released some true gems in the genre such as Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad (1965). The subject matter here is Hiroshi Teshigahara's abnormal documentary on architect Antonio Gaudí, which experiments with the genre in a way befitting the architect its on. For this release by Criterion, amble care is placed to present the video in great quality, although it does falter a bit with the audio presentation. They do a sublime job with the extras, though, offering over 125 minutes of added content to watch.


 Video: Star Rating


Given the source material, Criterion has done a great job with the presentation here. The film looks to be mostly devoid of scratches and grain, while the movie looks generally sharp, although goes soft in a few shots. Colors are also vivid, without being saturated. There are a few scenes where artifacting is apparent, though. This happens mostly on scenes with solid colors, like the blue sky above the architecture.

Antonio Gaudí is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. On a negative point, the image here was intentionally window boxed, adding a black area around the image. This was common for Criterion around this time, and was meant to compensate for some older TVs that might crop the image. However, the technique wastes space to present this black part of the image, and leads to less detail due to a smaller resolution of the actual video.

 

 Audio: Star Rating


Sadly, Criterion falters a bit when it comes to the audio track for this release. There is hardly much dialogue at all through the film, although background noise is sometimes apparent. Mostly the films leans on the unorthodox music of Toru Takemitsu. Unfortunately, the audio track here has occasional hiss, and it's sad a more proper restoration of this wasn't attempted. This is especially true since there is very high quality sources available of just Takemitsu's music and someone could have easily substituted these sources for the sequences without sound effects or dialogue, which are numerous.

The audio track can be supplemented by removable English subtitles. These subtitles translate not only dialogue but on screen text as well.

 

 Extras: Star Rating


Criterion pulled out all the stops in cramming this set with extra after extra. A lot of this is dedicated to the architect himself, Antonio Gaudí. However, the discs do focus a good deal on director Hiroshi Teshigahara and his father, while at times providing thoughtful counter balance to the way the movie was created too.

Before even opening the case, one will notice the heft of this release. The reason for that is the thick, 36 page booklet contained inside. Printed on high quality paper, the booklet starts with a few pages about the chapters on the DVD and credits for the movie before diving into an essay titled "Border Crossing". Written by professor and author Dore Ashton, who wrote the 1997 book The Delicate Thread: Teshigahara's Life in Art, the booklet starts off as a biography on the director, chronicling his upbringing and the events that led him to discover the architecture of Antonio Gaudí. Several full page, black and white photos of Gaudí's architecture are sprinkled in as the booklet also devotes a fair amount of time to the relationship between the director and composer Toru Takemitsu. It then covers the movie itself, although from the perspective of the events in the movie and less so on the background that went into filming it.

Next up is a second essay in the booklet, this one titled "My First Trip to the West". This essay is actually from the director himself, Hiroshi Teshigahara. It was originally written and published in 2007, and was translated into English for this release. This chronicles the director's trip in 1959 to the United States and Europe, and is rather brief. This is immediately followed by a roundtable discussion from 1959, first published in Ikebana Sogetsu, titled "A Photographic View of Travels in the West". Participants include Hiroshi Teshigahara, his father Sofu Teshigahara, photographer Ken Domon and photographer Taro Hiramatsu. The group talk about photography in the West, but devote a lot of their conversation to the works of Gaudí. Finally the booklet concludes with information about this transfer.

Looking at the disc extras, most of these are found on the second DVD in the set. The lone exception is the trailer to the movie, found on the first disc. The trailer has no subtitles, although has only Japanese text at the end. One of the extras on this second disc is Gaudí, Catalunya, 1959, which is a collection of 16mm test footage turned commercial release which documents Hiroshi Teshigahara and his father Sofu Teshigahara's trip to Barcelona and Salvador Dalí's house. Considering this was originally shot in the 1950's, the quality here is okay and was well preserved. The sad aspect, though, is that there is no sound, making it hard to engage with the material at all.

Next up is a 13 minute interview with architect Arata Isozaki, who also worked as an art director on Face of Another (1966). Done in Japanese with removable English subtitles, this interview was created exclusively for this release. It's an interesting talk, as Isozaki discusses his friendship with Hiroshi Teshigahara, their first trip to Barcelona and the response to Gaudí's work, which clashed with some of the artistic sentiments in Japan at the time.

This is followed by an interesting inclusion in the form of a BBC documentary called God's Architect: Antonio Gaudí. Released in 2004, this 59 minute piece is hosted by art critic Robert Hughe. Filmed in high definition and widescreen with heavy narration, the documentary is traditional in scope. Its inclusion here is spot on, providing a huge contrast between it and Hiroshi Teshigahara's mostly dialogue devoid 1984 film.

The disc contains another entry from the BBC, this time a 1961 episode from the 1959-1962 series called Monitor. This black and white episode, in surprisingly good quality for its age, focuses on Antonio Gaudí. There is minor source damage, but it's an interesting counter point to the other two documentaries on this set, due to its age and also the critical nature that it examines, at the time, modern European architecture that followed the death of Gaudí.

The last extra on this set is a documentary on the work of Sofu Teshigahara called Sculptures by Sofu - Vita. Filmed in 1962, this 17 minute documentary already shows Hiroshi Teshigahara's penchant for doing things a little differently, although does include amble narration compared to the 1984 movie that is the subject of this release. Sadly, the half black and white, half color documentary ranges greatly in terms of quality, at times showing a lot of print damage. The documentary is in Japanese with removable English subtitles.

 

 Overview: Star Rating


Bottom line, if one has an interest in the movie's director, composer, the architect Antonio Gaudí or a love for experimental documentaries, this release by Criterion will make a fine addition to someone's collection. The attention to detail and care placed into this set make it stand out, even if the audio could have been presented better.