This brief (72-minute) tribute to the visionary Spanish architect Gaudi (1852-1926) by Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) is a beautifully oblique cinematic biography that focuses more on the creations than the creator. Utilizing subtitles without dialogue, ethereal electronic sounds by Toru Takemitsu (Ran), and painterly views of motifs and buildings, Teshigahara minimizes his own presence in the interest of immersing the viewer in the architect's dreamscapes. Gaudi was a major influence on the surrealists, but his own inspiration came from art nouveau, Orientalism, medieval churches, and, above all, nature, evident in the flowing organic forms -- tree branches, stalagmites, nautilus shells, honeycombs -- that distinguish the extraordinary La Casa Milo apartment building (still lived in today), and the Sagrada Familia, a vast, otherworldly church that, like the forms that inspired Gaudi, continues to "grow" long after his death through enhancements by his disciples. While it's possible to glean many of the facts of Gaudi's life from this film -- his entry into Barcelona's architecture school at 16, his patronage by Count Guell, his death in a trolley accident -- Teshigahara's allusive approach encourages the viewer to forget "reality" and surrender to the spell of these dazzling works.
Antonio Gaudi screens Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 29 and 30, at 6, 8, and 10 p.m. at the Roxie, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia). There are also Wednesday matinees at 2 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 863-1087.