Sketches of Frank Gehry is director Sydney Pollack's first feature length documentary, dealing with the acclaimed architect, Frank O. Gehry. The two men have been friends for many years, and Pollack completed the film over a period of five years, starting in 2000.
Frank Gehry loves to sketch; it is the beginning of his architectural process. And it is his love of the sketch that gave Pollack his first clues to the style of this documentary film. Beginning with Gehry’s own original sketches for each major project, the film explores Gehry’s process of turning these abstract drawings, first into tangible, three-dimensional models, often made simply of cardboard and scotch tape, then into finished buildings of titanium and glass, concrete and steel, wood and stone. To capture the sketch quality in the documentary, Pollack uses a combination of film and Mini DV (digital video) as his media. Spending countless hours in Gehry's studio, on building sites, and in his home, this unobtrusive and quiet shooting style has captured, for the first time, the essence of Gehry's unique architectural process, and his shy and elusive personality. As a counterpoint to the deliberate informality - the sketch quality - of Pollack’s work with the video camera, he painstakingly captures on film, the grandeur of Gehry’s architecture, from his earliest building, a hay barn in California, to what are now recognized to be some of the great buildings of the modern era, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
The dialogue between Pollack and Gehry, as intimate as that of any two friends of long standing, courses like a continuous melodic line through the film. At the heart of the film is the low-key, informal quality that Pollack brings to his conversations with Gehry, and the many other participants in the film. This is not a film about rarified architectural theory. On the contrary, Pollack’s ability to pierce the skin of architectural theory allows him to draw deep insights into the life of this extraordinary architect and his singular architectural process.
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