Frank Lloyd Wright

Director: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Screenwriters: Geoffrey C. Ward

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Accomplished documentarian Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have masterfully chronicled the triumphant yet tragic life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Using stock photography and beautifully filmed footage of Wright’s greatest creations, Burns and Novick follow his life from his turbulent childhood to his last masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum, completed six months after his death.

Scandal and misfortune followed Wright throughout his years. A rich and successful family man, he sacrificed it all to be with his mistress and true love, Mamah Cheney, only to lose her in a fire. Virtually blacklisted in the States, Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, one of only several buildings left standing after the famous earthquake of 1923. This bolstered one of his many comebacks into architectural society.
In his sixties and strapped for cash, Wright began the Taliesin Fellowship, an enterprise more like a commune than a school which he operated out of his home in Wisconsin. Students were responsible for growing food as well as building Wright a new retreat in Arizona. It was during this time that he created most of his greatest designs, including Falling Water and the Guggenheim Museum.In his work, Wright evolved a simple philosophy based on his reverence for the natural landscape: “I’d like to see architecture that belongs where you see it standing.” Frank Lloyd Wright was a fascinating man who proved that architecture is indeed one of the most beautiful and gallant forms of art.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Directors
Ken Burns, cofounder of Florentine Films, has been making documentaries for more than twenty years. Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and studied under Jerome Liebling at Hampshire College. In 1981 he produced and directed the Academy Award–nominated Brooklyn Bridge. He has gone on to make several other award-winning films, including The Civil War; The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God; The Statue of Liberty, and Baseball. Lynn Novick was born in London in 1962, grew up in New York City, and graduated from Yale in 1983. She has been collaborating with Ken Burns since 1989, first as associate producer on The Civil War series, then as producer of Baseball, for which she won an Emmy. She is currently producing a history of jazz with him.

Screening Details


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