DVD Review: VISUAL ACOUSTICS

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
June 2nd, 2010

Visual Acoustics

DVD Rating: 4/5

Director: Eric Bricker
Writers: Eric Bricker, Phil Ethington, Lisa Hughes, Jessica Hundley
Cast: Dustin Hoffman (narrator), Kelly Lynch (herself), Tom Ford (himself)
Studio: Arthouse Films

Some would say that modern architecture is defined by the statement "form follows function," a simple comment that revolutionized the way the world, and architects, looked at the purpose of architecture. However, as influential as that statement was (and is), others would say that photographer Julius Shulman did just as much by creating photographs that embodied and embraced the aspects of modernism in a way that amazed everyone from architects to the fine art crowd.

As a film, VISUAL ACOUSTICS honors the reputation and ideals of Julius Shulman by resisting the temptation to get flashy, while remembering that it exists to inform people on a man who is equally lovable and influential. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, the film splits its time between telling the story of Shulman's life, the development of the modernist movement, and of course, more recent interviews with Shulman and those who know him or his work.

For anyone interested in architecture, architectural photography, photography, cinematography, or just a well done documentary, this one is impossible to skip. The timeline of this man's life took him through the growth of Los Angeles and the development of a major architectural movement; and every bit of it is brought to life by his ability to recall the stories behind virtually every photograph he has ever taken, combined with a beautiful presentation of his many photos, tours of some of the most famous houses he photographed, and interviews from friends, leading architects, and critics from both the architectural and fine art worlds. By the end of this film, even those who were unaware of Shulman's work beforehand will come away understanding and appreciating his passion for his work, and the impact he has made.

VISUAL ACOUSTICS is a term Shulman created to explain his use of manipulating the tone of photos to help translate the image in his head to the image he would print, although you wouldn't really know it unless you watch the DVD's Special Features which, although sparse, still offer a few more enjoyable moments for those who fall for Shulman's charm. In total, there are 21 minutes of additional footage, four deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, and audio commentary with the director, Eric Bricker, who shares more information on the making of the film, and spending time with Julius Shulman.

It becomes clear that VISUAL ACOUSTICS is more than just a documentary about an influential photographer, it's a beautiful and respectful tribute to the life of a man who dedicated himself to something he believed in and loved.

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