Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan | Chicago Reader

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Manfred Kirchheimer's 2006 video documentary tells the story of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright's “dear master” and arguably Chicago's greatest architect. Sullivan didn't invent the skyscraper, but he designed some of the most beautiful early examples, only to lose out commercially to Daniel Burnham's European-inspired neoclassicism at the time of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The images here of standing and vanished buildings and the many wise quotes from Sullivan are valuable, but the music is intrusive, the narration bland, and the attempts to meld live-action footage and stills awkward. Near the end Wright is offered as Sullivan's true successor, but an ill-informed trashing of “glass-box architecture” falsely implies it's all cheaply built and aesthetically worthless. 79 min.

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