Mendelsohn's Incessant Visions

"A fascinating and thrilling cinematic interpretation of the life story of Erich and Louise ..."
"A story of bravery, genius, infidelity, triumph and tragedy"
St. Louis Beacon
"A great film and not just for architecture buffs ... so well-made!"
Montreal Gazette
"Not only a fascinating biography ... intimately reveals Mendelsohn's stunning work"
Film Forward

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This award-winning creative homage illuminates the life of German-Jewish Expressionist architect Erich Mendelsohn. The visionary Mendelsohn, a contemporary of Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, produced works that have influenced generations of architects. His story unfolds through his correspondence with Louise, a beautiful young cellist, who became his wife.

Director Duki Dror gently breathes life into the correspondence between the two passionate artists who helped each other weather a turbulent time in history. Mendelsohn's career followed the jagged trajectory of many German-Jewish emigres fleeing Nazism; he worked in England, Israel and, finally, the US. Mendelsohn's drawings pulsate with energy and his buildings are stunning. His earlier work, the Einstein Tower, is one of the most important exemplars of modern architecture. Dror deftly juxtaposes the architect's original designs with contemporary images, weaving in reflections from architects and locals who use these unique buildings today - a testament to the integrity and timelessness of his visionary design.

I grew up in Tel Aviv and, to my surprise, in 2003, UNESCO announced Tel Aviv as a World Heritage Site. I looked at Tel Aviv as a very ugly, unsympathetic place, and I didn't understand why it was chosen for conservation. I was intrigued to understand what this was about. I started looking at the buildings, trying to figure out what was behind the peeling plaster and the soot. I started looking for the beauty and the aesthetic. So I talked to architects and that is how I first heard of Erich Mendelsohn. He was someone who greatly influenced the spirit of the places where he lived, and his spirit is still alive in these places today. However, history hasn’t remembered him. His life story drew me into deep research for about seven years.

The key to the story was in the ties and tensions between Mendelsohn and his wife Louise.  She was a beautiful muze, a German Jew and he was an Ostjuden, a jew from Prussia, an artist. She was much younger than him, but  had developed emotional intelligence which he relied on. He was the classic egocentric artist, who moved between despair and uphoria and she was his stability. It was clear that the main story is the relationship between the two, which opened up all the doors to creativity and success for him.

Documentary   |   Israel, Germany   |   2011   

71 min

Hebrew, German   

Subtitles: French, English, German

Director: Duki Dror   

Script: Galia Engelmayer Dror   

Cinematography: Philippe Bellaiche   

Editor: Chen Shelach