Dirs: Wim Wenders, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Robert Redford, Margreth Olin, Karim Aïnouz. Germany-Denmark-Austria-Norway. 2014. 165mins
Six top international filmmakers direct 30-minute documentaries, using 3D technology to explore the meaning behind some of the world’s most iconic pieces of architecture. Cathedrals Of Culture, executive produced by Wim Wenders, offers a unique perspective that has been difficult to capture in the past, but with 3D technology this has been made possible.
Robert Redford’s work on The Salk Institute in La Jolla is the best of the bunch, with both archive footage from the planning stages of the building in 1959 by Jonas Salk and Louis Khan and recent interviews with some of the scientists who currently work in the institute.
The film presents an engaging selection of works, offering a completely immersive experience while exhibiting the character of some great architectural treasures.
Wenders chooses The Berlin Philharmonic, taking the viewer on a journey around its nautical exterior and tent-like interior, describing its personality as “both ephemeral and festive”. He also treats the audience to a performance of Debussy’s Jeux, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
Michael Glawogger uses 3D for the first time to show The National Library of Russia, celebrating its vast array of leather-bound books which line every surface, climbing the walls and lying in heaps covered in dust.
We are then taken around Halden Prison in Norway by Michael Madsen, with a voiceover by prison psychologist Benedicte C. Westin. This state-of-the-art rehabilitation station, which TIME magazine has called “the world’s most humane prison” gives its inmates relative freedom to roam, and has more in common with a small village than a typical cell block.
Robert Redford’s work on The Salk Institute in La Jolla is the best of the bunch, with both archive footage from the planning stages of the building in 1959 by Jonas Salk and Louis Khan and recent interviews with some of the scientists who currently work in the institute. At times it has the feel of a video installation, where soft music plays to footage of waterfalls and various figures are quoted, including Winston Churchill, who had said: “We shape our buildings and our buildings shape us.”
Back in Europe, Margreth Olin shows The Oslo Opera House, whose great white stages are home to opera, ballet and theatre, as well as being a such-loved cultural hub of the city. Through a performance of Swan Lake, we see the space come to life.
Lastly Brazilian filmmaker Karim Ainouz finishes the set with a look at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the modern art gallery famed for its inside-out appearance. Cathedrals Of Culture will be broadcast by ARTE simultaneously in 3D and in 2D later in 2014.
Production companies: Neue Road Movies, Final Cut for Real, Lotus-Film, Mer Film, Les Films d’Ici 2, SundanceProductions/RadicalMedia, Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg, RBB/Arte, Arte, DRK, NRK, Danish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, NFI
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Producers: Erwin M. Schmidt, Gian-Piero Ringel
Executive producer: Wim Wenders
Co-producers: Anne Köhncke, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Tommy Pridnig, Peter Wirthensohn, Maria Ekerhovd, Charlotte Uzu, Laura Michalchyshyn, Sidney Beaumont, Nobuya Wazaki, Kayo Washio