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SULLIVAN’S BANKS (SULLIVANS BANKEN) V(director/writer: Heinz Emigholz; cinematographer: Heinz Emigholz ; editor: Heinz Emigholz; Runtime: 38; MPAA Rating: NR; Filmgalerie 451; 2000-Germany-silent-with no subtitles)
“Fascinating watch!”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Who would have known, a film about just looking at eight Midwestern banks constructed between 1908 and 1920 by noted American architect Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924), the last buildings he constructed, would make for such a fascinating watch! Sullivan was called the “father of modernism” and was the mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. This educational film is written and directed by German filmmaker Heinz Emigholz (“The Holy Bunch”/”Schindler’s Houses”), who filmed the banks between 1993-99. Sullivan, a believer that form follows function, was known for his sense of free expression by designing buildings featuring extravagant facades with no load-bearing function. The viewer gets a close look at all eight banks from both inside and outside, as the architect varied his modular ornamental designs in brick, steel, plaster, terracotta, glass, ceramics, mosaic, marble. light, relief, stencil designs, wood and metal. All the buildings are unique, interesting and have stood the test of time. They represent the physical symbols of the psychic state of the people, and stand as a social act. It’s worth a look for those viewers who love looking at buildings that were built for both art and function.

The banks covered are the following: National Farmer’s Bank, Owatonna, Minnesota (1908), Peoples Savings Bank, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1912), Henry Adams Building, Algona, Iowa (1913), Merchants’ National Bank, Grinnell, Iowa (1914), Home Building Association Company, Newark, Ohio (1914), Purdue State Bank, West Lafayette, Indiana (1914), People’s Federal Savings and Loan Association, Sidney, Ohio (1918), and the Farmers and Merchants Bank, Columbus, Wisconsin (1919).

REVIEWED ON 10/21/2008 GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”