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Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Frank Gehry has exploded the landscape of modern architecture, transforming it from a conventional science into a sublime and majestic form of art. Rebelling against the status quo, Gehry's struggle to create the impossible has resulted in such contemporary masterpieces as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the stunning Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Beginning with rough sketches, then moving to models made of cardboard and tape, Gehry's genius transforms steel, titanium, and glass into the most heart-stopping structures the world has ever seen. Directed by his longtime friend and supporter, Academy Award(r)-winner Sydney Pollack (1985 Best Director, Out of Africa), the fascinating SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY looks inside the mind of the most acclaimed and controversial architect of the twenty-first century.


Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollock chronicles the friendship between director Sydney Pollock and the famed architect every bit as much as it does Gehry and his work, and it makes for a delightful window into the world of creativity and genius. Gehry has made a big imprint (which critics might liken to Bigfoot's) on architecture at the turn of the 21st century; his molten-looking visions have graced buildings small (actor Dennis Hopper's industrial-looking home in Venice, Calif.) to enormous (the sprawling Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain). He's the genius behind Los Angeles's sweeping Walt Disney Concert Hall--which, though formidable in shape and size, manages to nod gracefully to its adjoining, beloved predecessor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. (He also created the controversial Experience Music Project museum in Seattle, which residents have likened to a giant psychedelic beetle crouched at the foot of the Space Needle.)

For creating such mega-structures, Gehry is remarkably self-effacing; as he and an associate fiddle with a model with bent rooflines and walls, Gehry chuckles, "That is so stupid-looking, it's great!" Yet make no mistake, he possesses a singular vision and strong ego, which we view not only through the wide variety of his works, but also from interviews with friends, architecture critics, and clients, including artist Ed Ruscha, Hopper, L.A. talent manager Mike Ovitz, architect Philip Johnson, and others. Pollock's intimate conversational film allows us to feel as though we're sitting right there on the couch with them, or in Gehry's "factory" of associates and assistants; in its backstage look at the process of creativity, the film feels a little like TV's Project Runway, in the very best sense. As the viewer gets to know Gehry, one finds oneself wishing for more biographical details to be fleshed out--what was Gehry's childhood really like, for instance, and how does he feel about having changed his birth name, Goldberg, at the request of his first wife? Still, for a peek into the world of one of America's most prolific artists, the film is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal. Extras include more conversations between Pollock and Gehry and further examinations of his creations. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features

  • Q&A with director Sydney Pollack
  • Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Barry Diller, Michael Eisner
  • Directors: Sydney Pollack
  • Writers: No Writer Credited
  • Producers: Ultan Guilfoyle
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GFRI6I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2006
Format: DVD
"Sketches of Frank Gehry" is director Sydney Pollack's first foray into documentary filmmaking, a personal quest to understand the work of his longtime friend, the Western world's most famous architect, Frank Gehry. Upon seeing Gehry's most famous work, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, at its opening in 1997, Pollack asked himself, "Where did this come from?" A question in the minds of many who have been transfixed by the Bilbao's metallic curves that rise organically from the Earth while they ironically convey otherworldliness. Pollack approaches the film with a layman's understanding of architecture and an intense desire to understand why and how Frank Gehry creates as he does. Gehry is at ease with his friend and speaks freely of his background, his career, and his ambition. Pollack was apprehensive about placing himself in the film, but his presence personalizes the exercise and introduces a dialogue between these 2 men who both "try to find personal expressiveness within disciplines that make stringent commercial demands".

The greatest insight into Gehry's creative process and the evolution of his styles comes from Gehry himself. But clients, artists, writers, museum curators, Gehry's design partners, and his psychoanalyst Milton Wexler all contribute their perspectives on the man and his work. We see some works in progress and briefly tour some of Gehry's buildings: private residences, museums, and commercial buildings. The only Frank Gehry detractor who agreed to participate in the film is Hal Foster, Princeton University Professor of Art & Architecture. I would have liked to hear more dissenting opinion -or more balanced opinion- since the praise of Gehry's work becomes repetitive. Foster articulates only some of Gehry's weaknesses.
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Ironically Sydney Pollack's warm, intelligent portrait of his longtime friend, architect Frank Gehry, is probably the best film he's made in years. Casually recording Gehry at work and while driving, and outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles while it is still under construction, Pollack has made an intimate documentary of an architect who over the years has revolutionized how we see buildings, steadily redefining our relationship between space and light.

From the outset it becomes pretty obvious that Gehry has never let professional limitations get to him and he's notoriously rejected much of the artistic conservatism of the past. Consequently, he's created architectural designs that just don't conform to the normal, predictable rules of geometry.

Obviously whether you like his work is a matter of taste - I find a lot of his work rather cold and ugly - but it is absolutely fascinating to watch his metamorphosis take place, from the design stage, where his ideas originate as doodles on paper and assemblages of cardboard and tape, to their transformation into models and then the finished product.

Of course the final test comes when they are molded into glass and titanium, and we finally get to see the end result of Gehry's vision. At barely ninety minutes, Pollack seems intent to cram a lot into his film: We get interviews with patrons, admirers and friends, including Bob Geldoff, the former Disney executives Michael D. Eisner and Michael S. Ovitz the Guggenheim chief Thomas Krens and Herbert Muschamp, the former architecture critic of The New York Times.

Perhaps most interesting are the graphic shorts of Gehry's most crowning achievements.
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Even though I have since seen the Experience Music Project in Seattle and the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, I was first taken by Frank Gehry's work when I accidentally came upon the eye-catching "Fred and Ginger" building in Prague in 1999, an eccentric juxtaposition of a cylindrical concrete building and a free-flowing glass tower that does indeed look like the classic dancing pair. Director Sydney Pollack has taken time out of his commercial filmmaking to make a mostly winning documentary about his close friend, the world-renowned architect. It's a warm and low-key look at Gehry's creative process which obviously parallels Pollack's own. In fact, the film is structured as an intimate conversation between the two and the joy of the film comes from the unexpected revelations that only happen between friends, in particular, how Gehry broke with tradition at an early age to design wildly original buildings that people either abhor or revere.

With a relative minimum of his own narcissism, Pollack is able to convey Gehry as a curious mix of self-effacing outsider and proud non-conformist and uses not only Gehry's own musings but the perspectives of others to provide evidence of both sides of the man. Not too surprisingly, Gehry's long-time therapist Milton Wexler provides the most perceptive comments about his patient's internal creative struggles, but there are also insightful remarks from Gehry's colleague, the late Philip Johnson; Herbert Muschamp of the New York Times; and architecture critic Hal Foster, the only one to offer a dissenting view of Gehry's work.
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