The “Sagrada Família” in Barcelona is a unique and fascinating building project by a brilliant, formerly controversial genius, Antoni Gaudí, with an army of workers, a history with many highs and lows and a myriad of questions raised. The biography of the edifice, which has been under construction since 1882 and is about half completed today, is the starting point for Stefan Haupt’s film.
Normally we see a cathedral or a church in its finished form, a witness of days long gone by. By contrast, the construction of the Sagrada Família is anything but complete. The edifice is still growing and evolving today as it has done for the past 125 years. Who was the man who designed this cathedral? What was his driving force? Who were his successors? Who are the people, i.e. the workers, craftsmen, artists and architects, who continue working on the Sagrada Família and who want to complete it? What is their driving force?
With the help of these people who are building the “cathedral” today, perhaps the last of its kind, this film investigates the motives that incite us humans to design and build such edifices.
The film is about their knowledge and experience, about the symbolism and the underlying cultural roots, and also about the creative act from intention to realization. Participants from a wide variety of backgrounds give insight into their work, describing their knowledge and experience. For example Etsuro Sotoo, the Japanese sculptor, a former Buddhist who converted to Catholicism, who has been working in the Sagrada Família for more than 30 years; Josep Subirachs, the highly controversial designer of the Passion façade, who calls himself an agnostic; Jordi Bonet, the chief architect, who is fighting on every possible front to get the Sagrada Família completed, as well as artisans and workers from various fields, such as Jaume Torreguitart, who describes the anonymous pride of all those workers who know that their name will never appear in the books about the Sagrada Família.
Inner and outer images interweave. In the hustle and bustle of this metropolis, the film approaches this mysterious cathedral persona, investigating the structural developments of the Sagrada Família and taking the time for breaks in order to look, hear, perceive, contemplate and reflect. Anna Huber, a reputed dancer from Switzerland, appears here and there during this discovery trip. Jordi Savall, the wold-famous Catalan musician, conducts Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Mass in B Minor”, which has occasionally been called “the cathedral of music”, reflecting on the ways of interpreting a work of art, be it based on a score or on an architectural plan.
Inspired by Gaudí’s vision, the film ultimately explores the fundamentally human search for the meaning of our existence, our origin and our goal, as well as the question of our human creativity and what we want to use it for.
Biographies, in whatever form, fascinate me. They confront me with my own story. Where does a particular person come from, where is he or she now, where is he or she going? Could their life have taken a different course? Do we create our own biography or does it take its own, pre-set course? These are questions about life and its meaning.
Just like human beings, buildings and artistic creations have their biography and their genesis: they have an origin, “parents”, a moment of creation and birth and then a life until they are accomplished - or destroyed - with a possible continuation in a modified form. These biographies are fascinating and moving too.
The focus of this film is the biography of the Sagada Família, the biography of a religious building which seems almost anachronistic in our times. A biography unfinished as yet, but which has already filled volumes.
I would like to tell this biography “from the core and from within”, taking as a starting point its roots, the everyday life of workers, sculptors and architects, as well as exploring topical issues and problems of the present. Slowly the outer history will build around it, encompassing the first sketches and historical building stages, today’s development stage, as well as the vision of the completed Sagrada Família.
"This film is more than a documentary, it tells the story using beautiful and quiet images of the transformation of ideas, talks of human endeavour for perfection and in so doing, illustrates that the essential meaning of this edifice lies in its creation process and not only in its completion.
This creative process is illustrated in varying perspectives from inside the incomplete church as well as the complex structure of the exterior parts of the church.
The film gives cause for self-reflection on how the past and present are related, portraying people and destinies involved in the construction of the church and ultimately proves that something incomplete also has its own significance." Jury citation, Erasmus Euro Media Awards
"Both exhaustive and astounding in its detective-like exploration of the history of the impossibly ornate Catalonian house of worship." Jackson Scarlett, 7x7SF