- 01 Mar 19
Documentary celebrates Irish engineer who transformed modern architecture.
It’s a rare gift when a film celebrating a brilliant artist is made by a brilliant artist – and An Engineer Imagines is such a gift. BAFTA award-winning cinematographer Marcus Robinson brings his romantic and evocative visuals to his directorial debut; a documentary about visionary Irish engineer Peter Rice, who redefined 20th century architecture.
Rice’s creativity, innovation and vision were almost incomprehensibly influential. He straddled the boundaries of professions; as his contemporaries describe his philosophical mind and approach to engineering, “there is no frontier between an engineer and an artistic creator; a poet.” His playful, inventive, “oddball” approach to design – which often experimented with light, shadow and reflection – gave us some of the modern world’s most iconic architectural treasures, including the Sydney Opera House, the Lloyd’s Building in London, the Inverted Pyramid at the Louvre, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Robinson evokes the beauty of Rice’s vision through his own, using spectacular 35mm time-lapse photography to capture the striking nature of Rice’s engineering, with sunsets, glistening oceans and the light of city traffic dancing off his inspiring creations. The stunning time-lapses add an element of history, of legacy, showing how these buildings were so modern and visionary, and yet have become timeless in a way that only iconic design can.
Lingering close-ups capture small-but-interesting connections in the building’s structure, allowing viewers to marvel at ingenious and beautiful features that are easy to overlook.
A talented storyteller, Robinson’s choice of interviewees elevates his visuals. As architects explain the impact of Rice’s work, and family and friends explain Rice’s humble beginnings in Dundalk, the director demonstrates how alive the engineer’s work is. He shows imagery of people flowing through and interacting with his designs; his spirit now immortalised worldwide. Fittingly, An Engineer Imagines is a beautiful piece of art.
Directed by Marcus Robinson. 76 mins. In cinemas today.