A film by Heinz Emigholz
2012, 110 minutes
No. 172

Directed by Heinz Emigholz, Perret in France and Algeria is both biography and cultural commentary, telling the story of architectural pioneer Auguste Perret’s dual careers in these two countries. Many of the works that are described here are mired in history, including Parisian buildings destroyed (and later rebuilt by Perret) during World War II. Emigholz’s stunning visual storytelling investigates the architect’s relationship with the volatile societies where his designs came to life.

August Perret
Auguste Perret (1874-1954), son of a constructor, studied architecture in Paris where together with his two brothers he took over his father‘s company in 1905 under the name ‘Perret Frères’. 

Like Louis Sullivan, he gained recognition with his early constructions utilizing an open configuration of nogging walls and facades of scaffold-like reinforced concrete (Apartment house in the Rue Franklin, 1903). The eye-catching use of concrete skeletons in his buildings made him a decisive representative and developer of new structural forms made possible through concrete construction methods (Théatre des Champs-Elysées in 1913). His architecture achieves sensational results with an unusual connection of stylistic elements from Art Nouveau and neoclassicism with creative externalized construction frames and his bold experiments with concrete. The works he executed show extreme versatility - from houses and apartment buildings, studios, workshops, production facilities, warehouses, theaters and churches to the planning of whole city districts. 

He was the French pioneer of Modernism and is a constant source of inspiration for Modern Architecture. His influence on Le Corbusier, who worked for 10 years in his office, is unmistakable. The award of the International Union of Architects for ‘Architectural Technologies’ is called the Auguste-Perret-Prize in his honor. 

He was the first to build modern churches with distinctive support frames and window lattices out of concrete (Notre-Dame du Raincy, 1923, Montmagny, 1926). Spiral staircases (Musée des Traveux Publics, 1937), style defining multi-story buildings in Amiens and Le Havre (1947) and the reconstruction of the city centre of Le Havre after the Second World War with the Saint-Joseph church (1954) belong to his masterful later works.

Official Selection, Venice Film Festival
Official Selection, Locarno Film Festival
Official Selection, Toronto Film Festival

"Heinz Emigholz’s groundbreaking and spellbinding architectural films are, quite simply, cinematographic re-enactments of the immediate experience of spaces. With an often canted camera, he dissects the interior and exterior of a building, allowing the viewer to experience being there and, by studying a career of an architect, construct a biography solely based on the works, free of commentary.... Perret presents a delicious juxtaposition between projects in France and public buildings built in Algeria, then under French colonial rule. More than ever, Emigholz places the buildings (erected between 1904 and 1954) in their contemporary social conditions; the result is a portrait of France and Algeria [today]." - Cinema Scope