Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Sagrada"--A Documentary Film

Of all the posts on this blog site, the one that has garnered far and away the most views is my Nov. 13, 2010 reflection, “Sagrada Familia: Favorite Church Comes Alive” ( People from every part of the globe have entered the halls of this site to share their interest and devotion to this basilica-in-progress. Since my second visit to Barcelona and this amazing work of faith and perseverance in 2009, the main body of the church has been completed. On July 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XI traveled to the site for its opening Mass and dedication (

Now, I’d like to call your attention to a masterful documentary, Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation, directed by Stefan Haupt and released in 2012 by Fontana Film. The film chronicles the life and career of prime architect and driving force, Antoni Gaudi, who died in a tram accident in 1926 at the age of 74.  Also highlighted are some of the architects and craftsman who have dedicated their professional lives to seeing Gaudi’s vision through to its finishing touches (expected in the 2030s).

My favorite interview features Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who has created many of the scenes over the doors of the basilica. One is dedicated to the infancy of Jesus, another to the passion of Christ (depicted in the “Stations of the Cross”). Sotoo tells the interviewer, “I was married to Buddhism. I was deeply into Zen. It is said that if you are looking for faith, don’t say anything. Don’t do anything. But I couldn’t forget one thing: the desire to cut stone.” He says he had to study Gaudi, “touch” him. And when he did he found Catholicism. Then, he makes the statement about sculpting that has caused to stop and reflect on my own life as a writer. As he strikes the stone, he says, “It’s a conversation with the stone . . . . Without the stone’s permission, I can’t do anything. So, hitting it, I’m listening to see whether I can or if I can’t . . . . I’m asking the stone if I am allowed to hit it or not. I am not the sculptor. Without permission of this stone, this master, I can’t do anything.” 

Is Sotoo's message for me as a writer that I need to ask the blank (MS Word) page for permission to begin--and continue? Something for all of us creative types to think about, each within his or her special medium.

Sagrada is available for viewing on Netflix (in Spanish with English subtitles). 

1 comment:

  1. I visited the Sagrada Familia in 1988 and again in the mid-1990's. Very little progress had taken place between the 2 visits. I am happy to learn that it is finally finished and dedicated. Time for another trip to Spain. I was also moved by Sotoo's view of stone carving. Someone else, perhaps Michelangelo, said that the sculptor's job is to chip away the excess stone to reveal the statue hiding within. Bee Hylinski