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My Architect: A Son's Journey
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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.
- Question and Answer with Director Nathaniel Kahn
- Scene selections
- Original Theatrical Trailer
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
So, I approached this film as someone who felt a debt of gratitude to Kahn like I've felt to no other architect except Louis Sullivan (for reasons I won't delve into here). I felt that I had been a direct recipient of his largesse, so I was very interest to hear of Nathaniel Kahn's attempt to reconnect to his father. I actually knew next to nothing of Kahn's life when I saw this film. I knew of several of his buildings, including the National Assembly in Dacca, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the Salk Institute, but I knew nothing of Kahn himself except that he died under bizarre circumstances and that he was an immigrant.
The details of Kahn's life were quite astonishing. The short version is that although he was married to the same woman for most of his adult life, he had children by two other women and maintained at least some connection to those children.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating and, at times, deeply moving. One of the best docs I have ever seen.Published 2 months ago by andrew d jacobson
Interesting documentary by the son of the architect in his search for his father's life and accomplishments. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Carol Vidal
I was very impressed. Nathaniel did a great job. I give it five stars; very impressed with it.
I've waited a long time to own this video, having seen it on the big screen. Thank you.Published 10 months ago by Holly Matthews
For any fan of architecture and quality film making, get this lovely dvd. It is one of the newer crop of brilliant, sensitive film-makers who know how to edit and tell an excellent... Read morePublished 10 months ago by elgreco
I first became aware of Louis Kahn's architecture when a graduate school professor took a group of us (students at the time) to Yale to see his newly constructed Yale Art School. Read morePublished 12 months ago by A good book and a glass of wine
I was not able to see the DVD as it was not able to be played on my english format. They must have sent me the wrong American format.Could you advise me what to do.Published 18 months ago by katrin stroh