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My Architect: A Son's Journey

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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 (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Q93EM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,960 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My Architect: A Son's Journey" on IMDb

Special Features

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

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

Customer Reviews

If, like me, you think the subject matter won't interest you, please believe me...it will!
Mary M
Nathaniel's yearning to connect with his father and to come to some kind of understanding of who he was and why he lived his life the way he did dominate the film.
Robert Moore
This film works just beautifully, both as a personal narrative and as an exploration of Kahn's visionary architecture.
E. Karasik

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 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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16 of 17 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Karasik on April 1, 2005
Format: DVD
This film works just beautifully, both as a personal narrative and as an exploration of Kahn's visionary architecture. I was utterly floored by the emotional impact of Nathaniel Kahn's journey into his father's past. As Kahn's appreciation of his father's professional accomplishments expands, so, too, does his sense of loss for the absentee father whom he knew only fleetingly, and who died when he was eleven. By the end of the film, when we see the reverence with which Kahn is viewed in India (where he is considered a sort of yogi or guru for his transformation of matter into "light and silence"), and in Bangladesh (where his enormous personal and financial sacrifice to build the governmental center made him a martyr in the eyes of many), we may come to view his problematic moral and family choices as simply the byproduct of a mind focused on universal themes. But this does not negate the intense pain he caused his several families, and it is instructive that someone so generous and talented was also the instrument of so much personal suffering to those who loved him most. The filmmaker explores all of this with unflinching honesty, enhanced by wonderful camera work and an evocative soundtrack; he has created a work of art entirely worthy of his famous father's legacy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Seth Miller on December 2, 2004
Format: DVD
I walked into My Architect: A Son's Journey expecting a solid documentary in a year of many wonderful documentary releases. Little did I realize that I would be receiving much, much more than that.

My Architect is an amazingly compelling story of a son's journey to discover more about the father he never really knew. As the film progressed, and drew me more and more into its fascinating discoveries, it reminded me so much of a real life Citizen Kane - A portrait of a prominent figure head, painted as indestructible, but just as human and fallible as those he seems to tower above.

Interview after interview, director Nathaniel Kahn peered into tearful eyes as the interviewee explained how Louis Kahn, his father, had touched their lives. Kahn was portrayed not only as an great architect, but as a friend, father, rival, cuckold, and savior depending on who Nathaniel happened to be talking to at the moment.

How could a man of such influence and integrity in the workplace be so careless with the family aspect of his life? How did he manage to juggle three secret lives? What would he have done had he not died of a sudden heart attack in a train station? Where was he going? My Architect meditates on these questions in such a beautiful and poignant way, it is impossible to not be moved by the discoveries.

Not simply an exploration of family conflicts, My Architect is also a poetic study of art as a political medium, as a career, and most importantly as a deeply spiritual journey.
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