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I.M. Pei - First Person Singular/The Museum on the Mountain
IM Pei - First Person Singular/The Museum on the Mountain
Actor: I.M. Pei
Director: Peter Rosen
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
NR     2003     0hr 49min

Featuring two full-length documentaries, this special edition DVD grants the viewer unfettered access into the mind and artistic philosophy of one of the greatest living legends in architecture: I.M. Pei. Pei?s childhood, ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: I.M. Pei
Director: Peter Rosen
Creator: Peter Rosen
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Art & Artists, Biography
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 07/29/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1998
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 0hr 49min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Hear it from a master in his own words!
FrednTidy | NY United States | 11/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I.M. Pei is one of my favorite architects, so getting this DVD was a no-brainer. There actually aren't that many comprehensive works on Pei either in print or in video, but this DVD helps to make up for it very nicely, especially since Pei himself is the main narrator and you get two programs on one disc. There is perhaps nothing more fascinating than hearing a master speak about his work in his own words.

The first show, "First Person Singular", features I.M. Pei talking about the full range of his career, from his boyhood until the present day. He discusses his approach to architecture and surveys of some of his major works. Throughout the course of the show, Pei really comes across as a very intelligent, engaging, and elegant person.

The second program on the DVD, "Museum on the Mountain", follows Pei throughout his design, development, and construction of the Miho Museum in Japan. The viewer gets to see how a master designer progresses through the design process and how he approaches problems in detail, continuously making changes and refinements up until the last minute.

This DVD is an Absolute Must-Have for anyone interested in architecture or thinking of a career in the architectural profession."
A remarkable value for lovers of architecture
FrednTidy | 10/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"J. Carter Brown, the late curator of the National Gallery of Art, called "First Person Singular: I. M. Pei", the finest film on architecture ever made. This DVD not only contains the full 86 minute story of I. M. Pei's life and work -- told by the architect himself -- but also the details of one of the most intriguing works of his life, the magnificent museum hidden in the hills near Kyoto which contains one of the world's finest collections of Asian and Near Eastern antiquities. In addition, this DVD or the VHS version contains a gallery of photos of Pei's most significant buildings. If you have any love for architecture, it's a must have for your personal collection, and a vital necessity for any institution that is interested in the field."
American Dream realized thru Architecture
Joong Won Lee | Cambridge, MA United States | 03/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am a fan of I.M. Pei and if you are a fan of Pei, I highly recommend that you see this dvd !

I see Pei thru John Hancock Building in Boston. This glass skyscraper has a blade-like black strip niched along the entire height of building. Seeing it from the ground level, one cannot but be amazed at the thickness/size/amount of steel panels used to make that simple strip perceivable from afar. The glass tower contrasts strikingly to the brick context of Back Bay and the strip turns the building into a razor-like crystal. Such intensity of focus on the essence of a problem is the nature of Pei. This amazing DVD, orated by Pei himself, portrays such character.

Early in his childhood, Pei lived in Suzhou (regarded as Venice of Asia) and he was exposed to rock farm artists. Pei provides a great anecdote on the practice of these artists. He claims his base of practice follows the heritage of those rock artists. To combine the man-made and nature-made and to regard "time" element as an quintessential aspect of creative enterprise.

Pei's life in Cambridge is a testimony to the exciting encounters with modern masters at MIT and Harvard. Life in NY with Zeckendorf, Donald Trump equivalent of that era, is an experience of seeing architecture from the real estate perspective. Finally, his own practice that ignited the blast of winning major competitions. All of these stories are well orchestrated in the film.

His major projects, such as Louvre and JFK museums, have great hidden stories. Miterand's vision for Paris was only possibly perfected by Pei's talent. Jacquiline's election of Pei among heroic Mies and Kahn is a contemporary drama.

Unlike a typical boring documentary film, oftentimes a person depicting divorced from his/her works, this DVD performs as a companion to his actual buildings. The film is a verbal oration of his spatial creation. Sometimes, the camera pulsates with light and texture of space, othertimes, the camera jazzes with background music to the tonal rythym of his space.

If there is an American Dream in architecture, here is a man who achieved it. If you liked this film, I highly recommend a film on Louis Kahn, 1996(?) version."
Learning To See In a New Way
Pamela S. Dorris | Lutsen, MN, USA | 01/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I.M. Pei is someone I would kill to have as a dinner partner, a man so gracious in manner and diversified in conversation that any time spent in his company would simply fly by as I sat enthralled. And so it is with this documentary.

The talented son of a well-to-do Chinese banker, Pei received the best education his family could arrange and ultimately ended up in the States studying architectural engineering because he lacked confidence in his drawing skills. "Nonsense," said his professor. "All Chinese people can draw. If you want to be an architect, then be one!"

At the time when Pei was a student, the Beaux Arts stylistic school was in vogue, but Pei's eyes were opened by the Bauhaus school of thought with its clean lines and "form follows function" philosophy; the work of Walter Gropius who taught at Harvard where Pei was a student; LeCorbusier's freedom and plasticity of form borrowing heavily from sculpture; Aalto's insistence that the design conform to the use of the building; and Marcel Breuer's fascination with sunlight and the play of light upon the planes of a building.

Thanks to his education in architectural engineering, Pei could never forget that structural elements go hand in hand with architecture, and the architect must always be aware of the forces in play upon a structure. Pei likes to push the envelope where the two disciplines intersect.

Virtually unknown until Jackie Kennedy selected him to design the Kennedy Library from the creme de la creme of the then architectural giants, Pei is responsible not only for the Kennedy Library but also for the Pyramid at the Louvre, the addition to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., his signature Bank of China Building in Hong Kong, the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Dallas Orchestra Hall, to name just a few.

Of his life partner, his wife Eileen, whom he married when she graduated from Wellesley, Pei likes to say he bounces all his ideas off her first because she is his best critic.

His personal philosophy for architecture touches on the following points: start with the complex and reduce it to its essence; like Bach, find a basic theme and repeat it many ways in that particular project; never duplicate projects because each project brings is own space, setting, use, and history; the simpler the solution, the more powerful the structure appears; persist and never sacrifice principle; make the space move as the people move easily within the space; and travel, travel, travel as you learn to "see" in a new way -- don't just settle for reading books or copying someone else's work.

If you enjoy classical music, you (like me) will immediately try to find the soundtrack to this documentary. Sadly, there is none, so I've had to collect the individual works as listed in the end credits. The music is so integral to the visual that it's easy to understand why Pei finds classical music stimulating to his creativity.

I purchased this DVD with one on Frank Geary (who brings more of the sculptural to his architectural style), and "My Architect" a thoroughly engrossing documentary about the search for I.M. Kahn's true nature and greatness as discovered bit by bit through the eyes of his illegitimate son with whom he couldn't spend nearly the amount of time he should have. The final scenes of the movie brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it as a riveting testimony to both the frailty and the greatness in human nature.

I highly recommend all three of these DVDs.