Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  57 minutes
Date:  2005
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; French
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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A lovely introduction to Mies van der Rohe, one of the 20th century's most influential architects, and a stimulating examination of modernism and urban environments.

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In 1967, at the end of a career spanning more than six decades, which included the design of the Seagram Building in New York, the Lake Shore Drive Apartment Buildings in Chicago, and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) designed a simple gas station near Montreal. The story of that gas station serves as the point of departure for REGULAR OR SUPER, which examines Mies' entire body of work (more than 70 buildings) and a sparse style that reflects his motto that 'less is more.'

Mies began his architectural career in Germany early in the 20th century and during the Thirties taught at the famed Bauhaus School of Art and Design in Berlin. In 1938, after the school was shut down by the Nazis, Mies emigrated to Chicago where he designed 22 buildings for the Illinois Institute of Technology. Over the next three decades, in a radical break from the predominant beaux arts style, he refined a distinctive, modernist architectural style emphasizing glass and steel in a variety of buildings whose structures creatively integrated surrounding public space.

Featuring stylish cinematography and an evocative jazz score, REGULAR OR SUPER illustrates many of Mies' classic buildings, combining these striking facades with observations from some architecture superstars, including Rem Koolhaas, Elizabeth Diller and Phyllis Lambert, which are interlaced with anecdotes from customers and neighbors of the gas station, plus comments from his biographer and family members.

REGULAR OR SUPER is a fascinating and informative introduction to the work of one of the 20th century's most influential architects and a thought-provoking demonstration of the social and artistic contributions that architecture at its best can make to our urban environments.

'Delightfully thoughtful and sensual... is itself a model of design. Cinematographer Francois Dutil lavishes tracking shots on Mies landmarks [and] highlights lustrous details, always attuned to the interplay of light, shadow and rain with Mies' glass, steel and concrete. Ramachandra Borcar's superb jazz score cues the eye to spatial rhythms in Mies' facades and plazas. The architectural experts on hand...prove to be adept wordsmiths in their aptly edited soundbites. A lens for looking at Mies' modernist and minimalist style.'-Chicago Sun-Times

'Critic's Choice!'-Chicago Tribune

' * * * * [4 out of 4 stars!] Should be seen immediately!'-The Gazette

'Insightful... enlivened by moments from interviews.'-Ballast Quarterly Reviews

'Recommended! A stylish documentary.'-Educational Media Reviews Online

'The world of architecture, cheerfully dissected. REGULAR OR SUPER serves up a mixed-bag of impressions on Mies by both experts and people off the street.'-La Presse

'A fitting tribute to the work of Mies van der Rohe, legendary architect of the 20th century.'-Le Devoir


** Best Photography, 2005 Rome Documentary Festival
** 2005 Chicago International Documentary Festival
** Critics Choice, Chicago Tribune (Nov. 2004)
** Best Canadian Film, 2004 International Festival of Films on Art (Montreal)
** Special Mention, Best Urban Documentary, 2004 Barcelona DocFest
** 2004 Vancouver Film Festival


Main credits

Hillel, Joseph (film producer)
Hillel, Joseph (film director)
Hillel, Joseph (screenwriter)
Demers, Patrick (film director)
Demers, Patrick (screenwriter)
Demers, Patrick (editor of moving image work)
Danforth, George (interviewee)
Davies, Howard (interviewee)
Diller, Elizabeth (interviewee)
Fujikawa, Joseph Y. (interviewee)
Koolhaas, Rem (interviewee)
Lambert, Phyllis (interviewee)
Lohan, Dirk (interviewee)
Mertins, Detlef (interviewee)
Nicholson, Ben (interviewee)
Schulze, Franz (interviewee)
Summers, Gene (interviewee)
Tigerman, Stanley (interviewee)
Borcar, Ramachandra (composer)

Other credits

Director of photography, François Dutil; edited by Patrick Demers; original music, Ramachandra Borcar.

Distributor credits

A Film by Joseph Hillel and Patrick Demers

Docuseek2 subjects

History of Architecture
Urban Studies

Distributor subjects

Urban Planning and Design
Urban Studies


Seagram Building; Lake Shore Apartment Buildings; Neue Nationalgalerie; Mies van der Rohe; 'less is more'; Bauhaus School of Art and Design; Nazis; Nazi; Van der Rohe; Illinois Institute of Technology; beaux arts style; modernist architectural ; modernist architect; modern ; glass and steel; Rem Koolhaas; film ; video; documentary; dvd; "Regular or Super"; Icarus Films

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