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My Architect: A Son's Journey

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A riveting tale of love, art, betrayal and forgiveness -- in which the illegitimate son of a legendary architect undertakes a worldwide exploration to discover and understand his father's and the personal choices he made.

Louis I. Kahn is considered by many historians to have been the most important architect of the second half of the twentieth century. While Kahn's artistic legacy was a search for truth and clarity, his personal life was secretive and chaotic. His mysterious death in a train station men's room left behind three families -- one with his wife and two with women with whom he had long-term affairs. The child of one of these extra-marital relationships, Kahn's only son Nathaniel, sets out on a journey to reconcile the life and work of this mysterious man.

Revealing the haunting beauty of his father's monumental creations and taking us to the rarified heights of the world's celebrated architects and deep within his own divided family, Nathaniel's personal journey becomes a universal investigation of identity, a celebration of art and ultimately, of life itself.

One nonfiction film that truly creates a narrative journey, My Architect is filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn's engrossing search for his father. Louis Kahn, one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, died in 1974 and left behind a highly compartmentalized life, including two children born out of wedlock to two mistresses. Nathaniel interviews the members of this somewhat puzzled family, but his deepest experiences are visits to the buildings that his father made (such as the grand Salk Institute in La Jolla, California), culminating in an emotional trip to Bangladesh. Here, Louis Kahn designed a massive government complex, a soaring achievement (and fascinating paradox--a Muslim capital designed by a Jewish man). This film asks: where does an artist truly live? In his life, or in the work he leaves behind? Nathaniel Kahn takes an amazingly even-tempered approach to this, given his personal stake in the story, and the result is a uniquely stirring movie. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Question and Answer with Director Nathaniel Kahn
  • Scene selections
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Louis Kahn, Frank Gehry, B.V. Doshi, Frank O. Gehry, Philip Johnson
  • Directors: Nathaniel Kahn
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2006
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Q93EM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,568 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My Architect: A Son's Journey" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous Reader on May 30, 2005
Format: DVD
My Architect rates five stars for its haunting portrayal of architect Louis Kahn.

Louis Kahn, who died of a heart attack in New York's Penn Station in 1974, was an architect's architect-- he inspired many greats, including Phillip Johnson and Frank Gehry, but never attained the substantial commercial success that he craved. His major works were comparatively few, and include the Salk Institute, the Yale Art Museum, India's Institute of Management, and the capital of Bangladesh. Kahn's buildings distill form and light with a purity that many term mystic. Viewing Kahn's projects some 30 years after his death, it appears probable that Kahn's designs were ahead of their time. His commercial difficulties were also likely exacerbated by an intense, difficult temperament.

Kahn's professional life was only surpassed in complexity by his personal affairs. He fathered three children by three mothers, remaining married to his first wife while continuing to be involved with his other two families. If Kahn's designs were enigmatic, his personal affairs only compound his mystery. Two of the women who bore Kahn children, both architectural colleagues in his firm, are interviewed in the film. His children, reared separately, meet to examine their father, their various mothers, and their memories of his funeral. Both his wives and children speak of Kahn's magnetism and mystery-- one could be riveted by him, but the totality of the man was always hidden.

Nathaniel Kahn, Kahn's youngest child and only son, is the director and producer of My Architect. The film probes his father's professional and personal legacies with delicacy, wistfulness and regret. Nathaniel was eleven when Kahn died. This fine film is an homage to the accomplishments and failures of an enigmatic and eccentric genius, whose architecture inspired many and whose personal conduct combined love with selfishness and self-protection.

Highly recommended-- a strong five stars.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on February 17, 2005
Format: DVD
You don't have to be an architect to enjoy this movie. Nathaniel Kahn makes this a very personal journey as he ferrets out the details surrounding his father's mysterious death in Pennsylvania Station in 1974. Along the way you get treated to some wonderful insights into Kahn's work and separate lives by those who were closest to him. Louis Kahn was a powerful creative force and as such drew a lot of persons into his orbit, but at the same time Kahn had no idea how to manage his life, collapsing to the floor of the train station on his way back from India, and dying of a heart attack that left a deep void in the architectural world. But, it was also revealed at his funeral that Kahn had several close personal relationships in which he fathered three children from different women. Nathaniel is the youngest of these children and the only son. As such, it seems he assumed the burden to tell the story of his nomadic father. Nathaniel doesn't know much about architecture, leaving it to the architects he interviewed to relate the importance of Kahn's work to the viewer. Nathaniel is closer to home when he interviews family and friends of Kahn, touching deep emotional nerves, and giving this film its impact.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schmitz on March 9, 2005
Format: DVD
I bought this documentary on a whim because I enjoyed "Supersize Me" and "Farenheit 9/11." My sense now is that the genre of the documentary is entering a golden age, since the ones I've seen lately, including "My Architect," seem superior by far to mainstream dramas and comedies.

The basic premise here, easy to grasp, is the journey of the "illegitimate" son of American architect Louis Khan to discover who his shadowy father was by talking to people who knew him and by viewing and assessing his dad's work. This yields much humor and pathos. The people the younger Khan speaks to include A-list architects like I. M Pei and Phillip Johnson as well as ordinary Joes and are an interesting lot with compelling things to say about the Jewish design wizard.

Exploring Khan's buildings through his son's camera proves an even greater treat. Highlights include the sprawling sea-splashed Salk Institute on the California coast and the stunning light-suffused Capital building in Dacca, Bangladesh. What really endears us to the subject matter is that neither the weaknesses of the architect father nor his documentarian are swept away; rather they're discussed openly, and both come across as real--fragile flawed but immensely talented.

This film, a great balance of educational and emotional elements, is so worthwhile and enjoyable it's encouraged me to give the whole documentary genre a fresh look. I appreciate a discussion of architecture that wasn't dumbed down for the audience, such as when the film discussed the influence of ancient ruins, bombastic and timeless, on Khan's work. Bravo!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Bloom on February 16, 2005
Format: DVD
a great movie !! its a revelation-- compelling heartwarming heartbreaking-- informative- surprising--- it just gets better and better as we get to know the man the filmmaker is searching for -- from myth to all too human--- its the story of a great man and the price the families who loved him had to pay ---- the last scene says the most-- and the veritable miracle of his bangladesh capital building--- what it does for those lucky enough to use this amazing and gorgeous other worldly yet earthy strucure-- how it shapes lives and elevates them ! and the sheer beauty of it all--- and how this legacy can in the end compensate somehow for familial neglect-- for the benefit of all---this beauty this grand human effort has its costs !!!but the splendor this man has wrought for us-- and now thru the efforts of his son---given more exposure-- in this day and age of wars and money ruling the day--- its a welcome reminder of the things that last -that are of god and promote life ! of a different kind of hero and their works !it was quite literally for me a religious experience ! this film is in a class by itself and is trascendent and humbling !!! i sat thru it twice and was twice rewarded beyond all expectation !
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