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Frank Lloyd Wright: A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
Frank Lloyd Wright A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
Actors: Philip Bosco, Edward Herrmann, Sab Shimono, Julie Harris
Directors: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2004     2hr 33min

Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 09/23/2005 Director: Ken Burns


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Movie Details

Actors: Philip Bosco, Edward Herrmann, Sab Shimono, Julie Harris
Directors: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 09/28/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 33min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

A Great Piece on Frank Lloyd Wright
Jason ACK_Red | Boston, MA | 10/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an excellent documetary. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about architecture generally and Frank Lloyd Wright specifically.

The material covered is a well done overview of the architecture of the 20th century, as seen through the lens of FLW's life. I found it an amazing tale. There is much to learn about architecture here - the history and scenes are fantastic. From the early days of the skyscraper, to his domestic work (Pairie Houses), to Falling Water (the transformative piece of domestic architecture), the ultimate masterpiece of the Guggenheim - it's all here and well told, and shown. The commentary by Philip Johnson - a longtime FLW antagonist, but ultimately an admirer, is powerful and poignant.

On a personal note, I found the life of FLW inspiring - not in the details or setbacks, but taken for the whole. How many individuals can say their most productive period was after their 70's?

Bravo to Burns - this is one of his finest works; on one of the best of subjects.

I hope others enjoy this DVD as much as I did."
Frank Lloyd Wright
Linda M. Kordich | San Diego, California | 07/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have never really understood the man (frank lloyd wright), behind the master teacher he ultimately became.... and in this film I have been profoundly surprised and impacted by his life's story.
I would recommend this film to anyone. It is a sensitive and brilliantly made documentary, laced with beethoven's music throughout, and impeccably built together, frame by frame on film, as Mr. Wright's buildings were.
As the documentary progressed, ultimately building to a tender yet impactful crescendo, this man's life's story brought tears to my eyes when it was over. Mr. Wright was an incredible human being....despite devastating loses he had to endure,he had the courage and fearlessness to tread a path no one ever dreamed possible, yet he did.... and during at ime where it was almost impossible to be 'free.' I loved this film. Please do not miss it."
Heather L. Parisi | St. Augustine, FL USA | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)


Any way one looks at, this was a very well done documentary. Yes, it did stress his life and misdeeds. Apparently, his deeds and misdeeds were the mortar that his designs sprang from.


Essentially, through this chronological biography of a sort, we see the development of the man being mirrored by the development of his ideas of how to make interior space for living, worshipping, and working more civilized and, in many ways, more functional and ergonomic.

Yes, of course, there were failures, but so many of his designs were experiments, and experiments are prototypes, and protoypes are invariably flawed. Just look at the auto industry! Though he was a self-promoter, he did not stoop to assembly line construction. Even his modest designs were filled with civilized and novel ideas that actually brought about the advent of the ranch house. His constuction innovations integrated into the hotel in Tokyo, which survived the great Earthquake, set the standard for building codes that are today used around the world to save lives in Earthquake-prone regions. His use of sites to maximize set-backs and combine living space into nature as harmoniously as possible is still at the cutting edge of site design planning, urban planning, and architectural design methodologies.

It is truly a shame that he had a bumpy ride through life, but for all his personal problems and the human wreckage the seemed connected to it, he gave the world as a whole much more than he took from it. Though he may have seemed an underachiever at times, in the long run, his achievements will be more connected to the effect he has had on the field of architecture and civilization which have been improved through his efforts. In essence, one can not judge Frank Lloyd Wright by the 769 buildings he built, but rather by the millions of structures that now incorporate many of his innovations and are safer and more liveable for it.

To tell the story, they used an eclectic group of witnesses ranging from a 100-year-old son to former fellowship members, plus grandsons, critics and collegues. Of course, they also showed parts of his interview with Mike Wallace back in 1957 and some home movies too.


As evidenced in his personal life, he was a very emotional man. Combining his strong emotions with his skill as an architect helped him create designs that were works of art, like the Guggenheim. His emotions blended into his designs to instill a desirable emotional effect on visitors or owners of his creations. Some people described it as a spiritual experience. In Columbus, Indiana there are a large number of structures that were built by Wright and his followers. There are tours through Columbus showing these marvels off and even a lovely park [Mill Race Park] that somehow makes 100 acres adjacent to a noisy highway and a polluted stream into an Eden that seems like 1,000 pristine acres.


In two parts on one DVD, it was 146 minutes long. It also contained several interviews and it was very helpful to see the perspective of filmaker Ken Burns and company."
Praise for the human approach to the artistry of Wright
Heather L. Parisi | 01/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having read several books concerning the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, and collecting works about his creations, I eagerly viewed this film. Ken Burns masterfully brings to the screen the intricacies of both the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Burns recreates for the viewer the remarkable experience of entering a Wright building, an experience the begs the visitor to discover the genius who designed the use of space. The film intelligently explores the man and his work, answering many questions and raising others. Anyone drawn to Wright and his designs, anyone intrigued by great men, anyone interested in American perceptions will find this film to be a treasure."