In the West, Hiroshi Teshigahara is best known as the avant-garde director of the 1964 film Woman in the Dunes–an erotic, surreal film that was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Teshigahara’s haunting shots of sand, skin, and water amid the advancing sand dunes have stayed with me over the years. But there is another Teshigahara film, one that is less well-known, that left an even greater impression on me.
Antonio Gaudi is like no other movie I can think of. Teshigahara’s 72-minute meditation on the Spanish Art-Nouveau architect is essentially wordless. He avoids conventional narrative and instead, lets Gaudi’s buildings do the talking.
Before watching this film, I didn’t consider myself a fan of the Spanish artist. (George Orwell described Gaudi’s cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, as “one of the most hideous buildings in the world.”) But my judgment was based on ignorance–on some vague, false impression that Gaudi’s work was not much more than bulbous, overdone kitsch.
But after viewing Teshigahara’s breathtaking film, my opinion of the Spanish architect has been entirely transformed. Anotnio Gaudi was nothing less than a visionary genius–an original, madly brilliant artist who was unappreciated and misunderstood in his own time.