My Architect – A Son’s
Sound: B- Extras: C+ Documentary: B
One man goes out to reconstruct the life of his father,
but for Nathaniel Khan, his father was the brilliant architect Louis I.
Kahn. My Architect – A Son’s Journey
(2003) is a new documentary that offers Nathaniel’s search for who his father
was, why they did not have a better relationship, clarity on his dying at a
train station in 1974 and meeting the people who knew him and his legacy. This includes family and a few architects,
like Edmond Bacon.
Filled with valuable new interviews and some vintage
footage, Nathaniel ambitiously travels all over to find out the truth and
unveil more about his father than hardly anyone has known before. Louis left behind several children with
three different mothers and was heading for bankruptcy at his untimely
death. The tale gets odder as it gets
sadder, but it is always intriguing and it gives us some interesting ideas
about how he came up with his designs. He was Jewish, but was trying to find something more broadly
spiritual. He was original, but thought
little was original and what he did was based on what already existed. He left his mark, yet at least a dozen of
his projects never saw the light of day.
If it were any worse, it would be bittersweet, but the man left a legacy
and lived a long life. Nathaniel was
his only son, who also visits some of the relatives. Not enough programs are done on architects or architecture, but
this one works and is a winner.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was shot on a digital
version of NTSC video and includes some filmed footage from the past, plus the
usual stills. This looks good and
despite a theatrical release, this version comes off the tape, not film, saving
it from being a generation more down.
One late scene shows Nathaniel brought a motion picture camera as
well. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has
Pro Logic surrounds and was released theatrically in Dolby’s SR (Spectral
Recording) analog system. It has good
playback considering much of this was taped on the spot. It performs well enough.
Extras include a very nicely produced book inside the DVD
case with a translucent cover, plus a pullout timeline of Kahn’s life and
achievements. On the DVD itself, the trailer
for this and four other New Yorker titles are included, plus a question and
answer piece with Nat Kahn with rare extra footage and deleted scenes from the
program are included, split into eleven chapters. The son looking for father is a cliché at this point, but this
real life version avoids that by default.
This took five years to make and it shows. My Architect – A Son’s Journey is a must-see documentary.
- Nicholas Sheffo