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Holiday traditions? Sure, the Music Box's always kicks of the season with it's Sound of Music Sing-a-Long
. (And not to be outdone, U of C's Doc Films has now launched their own Sing-a-Long-Alban-Berg's-Wozzeck
.) But how many Christmas traditions revolve around architecture? Not just in, but about it?
I know of at least one. The Gene Siskel Film Center has made it it's own holiday tradition to show Hiroshi Teshigahara's mesmerizing 1985 "cult" documentary, Antonio Gaudi
from Saturday, December 20th through Tuesday, the 30th.
And this year, the Siskel is upping the ante with the local debut of Stefan Haupt's new (2012) documentary, Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation,
which opens with 6:00 p.m. showing this Friday the 12th, with showings through Monday, December 29th.
Both films foncus on the ongoing construction of architect Antonio Gaudi's masterwork, Barcelona's Sagrida Famila
. While work began all the way back in 1882, it remains unfinished, and while a report several years ago
speculated on a completion date of 2026 (the centennial of Gaudi being killed by a streetcar in 1926) or 2028, it remains unconfirmed. Still, much has been done since Teshigahara's film came out nearly 30 years ago, as can be seen in the difference in the images of the structure between the two films. A roof was finally over put in place in 2000 with the completion of vaulting over the nave. Pope Benedict consecrated the church in 2010, but an arson-set fire in April of the next year set back the construction schedule even more.
As the work has progressed, controversy has mounted. Back in 2008, a group of Catalan architects argued for a halt in the construction to preserve Gaudi's original vision, which many claim has been corrupted, moving further and further from Gaudi's original vision the closer it gets to completion. It's become a cross between a holy site and a theme park, with 3 million tourists paying over €30 million to take the tour each year, a crush that will inevitably increase when Sagrida Famila's 550-foot-tall sixth tower, complete with elevator to wisk tourists to the top, is finished sometime in the future.
Haupt's film has been getting mixed reviews, but for any architecture buff it remains a must-see, telling many fascinating stories of both the building and the people working on it. If nothing, seeing the images of the building in both films is the best way, other than in person, to experience Gaudi's grand, crazy work at something closer to the scale at which it can be fully appreciated.
The Gene Siskel Film Center is offering a discount for those buying tickets for both films. Check out all the details and showtimes on the Siskel's website, Antonio Gaudi here, and Mystery of Creation here.
I went there a few years ago and I don't know what I think about the continuing work. Some of it is pretty bad, like a caricature of Gaudi; the statuary looks like Lego figurines. And yet, leaving it unfinished seems a violation of Gaudi's original concept, which was surely closer to building a cathedral no matter how long it took, not building a shrine to his own personal expression which no one else could be allowed to touch.
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