I.M. Pei (1997-8)

Directed by Peter Rosen


Released by Home Vision
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; content appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Certainly rent it; own it for inspiration.

Chances are, you've seen the work of architect I.M. Pei, whether you realized it was his stuff or not. Anyone who's read the recent DaVinci Code is at least familiar with Pei's addition to the Louvre--the pyramid that now sits out front. But there's more to Pei than just being a guy who conceives and executes on some fascinating structures--although that's worth sitting through a couple of documentaries for. The story of how he worked his way up to becoming the world-renowned architect he is today is also quite interesting--and it's rather inspiring for an artist of any discipline.

This latest release from Home Vision contains two full documentaries, going after the subject matter from two angles. First up, in the First Person Singular docu, you get an overview of Pei's life and story, not to mention his major works. How do you go from being an architectural hopeful to the guy France calls upon when they want to spruce up the biggest museum in the world? Thankfully, the subject is covered with just the right attention to detail, and with plenty of commentary by Pei himself on his life and work. It's easy to get lost and find yourself going through the entire thing in one sitting, because the man really is a wonder to listen to.

The other angle is the subject of The Museum on the Mountain, a recent project of Pei's in which he was tapped to create the Miho Museum in Japan. The details about the trials and tribulations of this project are enough to make you hope they're getting paid a great deal--having to bury the museum, deal with environmental restrictions on the use of the land, and so forth. Also of interest is the respect with which Chinese Pei deals with his Japanese clients--the attention he pays to them and their requirements, because he feels he and the project can serve as a bridge between the two cultures.

The only bonus feature on this disc is a nicely done project portfolio, which showcases twenty of Pei's works. While it's nice to have a gallery of sketches, plans and finished products, it made me long for even more information regarding the buildings. Hell, I'd like a virtual tour of the places, because some of them look absolutely amazing.

This disc is a must own for any student of architecture, but any artist of any field would appreciate the inspiration and the innovation that Pei has brought to the table. You'll probably end up renting it first, and owning it later.

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