documentary that follows one man’s quest to discover more about his famous architect father, Louis Kahn. taking a wide view of the picture you have all the right pieces for a great film – it’s got a good internal drama (kahn had three families), it has a bit of mystery, it’s a point of view picture somewhat similar to the jaundiced eye or capturing the friedmans, and it captures the left brain with the architecture subplot. one of the more impressive aspects of the documentary is its good editing. simple interviews with louis kahn’s friends and family are cut in a less traditional documentary fashion. normally in documentaries, there is one camera and edits are made to show the back and forth of a conversation without too much panning. other times the camera will be fixed on an interviewee for an extended period of time which often makes for a dry filmgoing experience. in fog of war morris intercuts historical footage to make things more interesting and flesh out, or comment on, what mcnamara is discussing. in this film the filmmaker (kahn jr.) sometimes does the same thing and, more frequently, intercuts extra coverage into a conversation. that is, he’ll be talking with an interviewee about his father’s other family and he’ll cut in footage of a long shot of them talking about something completely different. since it’s a long shot you can’t tell that they’re talking about something different, and it breaks up the pacing of the film a bit. then he’ll cut in a reaction shot to something the person is saying, but it won’t necessarily be a real-time reaction…he just makes it seem that way through editing. this is done all the time in news programs where they have two cameras, but in this case there was only one camera. it’s a small thing, but he did it well and it contributed a great deal to the flow of the picture.
beyond the (large) human element of the film was the added benefit of getting to learn about kahn’s architecture. though i didn’t like all of kahn’s buildings (although the national assembly building in bangladesh is fucking brilliant), it did make me want to learn more about architecture. i saw a documentary on the work of i.m. pei and, though it was very interesting, it was this film and kahn’s work that made me realized how great architecture is. the moving shots inside the building in dacca made me see architecture as a living art – as you move the art of the building changes and it also changes over time – as the building ages and as buildings around it change. film, music and now architecture are my favorite art forms.