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Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

Maya Lin , Freida Lee Mock    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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5.0 out of 5 stars poetry of the design process May 22 2004
This documentary film is a unique experience for which it is difficult to find a comparison. On a basic level, the film discusses several projects of artist/architect Maya Lin, a young Chinese-American woman who unexpectedly won the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial while a Yale student. Her design, a departure from conventional expectations, is now famous, and is the most visited memorial in Washington D.C. Some of the strong feelings that the Vietnam War elicits in people, especially its veterans, is touched upon in moving live scenes at the Memorial and in the controversial hearings that were held in the wake of the design's selection. The experience put Maya Lin in a national spotlight and forced the student to mature very quickly addressing the grievances of veterans and others. In the end, with some minor site additions, the Memorial stood as designed, with the names of all the veterans of Vietnam etched in its simple polished, reflective granite. Other works of Maya Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama; the Yale Women's Table; and others demonstrate a similar simplicity and poetry that is both moving and powerful. There are moments in the film, as simple as when the artist is working at her drafting table, that suggest something both beautiful and spiritual, providing a deep insight into the creative process of this noted public artist.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Maya Lin April 21 2004
By Kevin
Narrative and Thematic Summary
At the age of 20 and still a student at Yale University, Maya Lin won a national design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Mock recounts through interviews with Lin, the veterans who organized the memorial project and the complicated, politically messy process that led to erecting the famously moving piece. After much public protest (mainly from Vietnam War veterans), hearings were held to consider ways to incorporate more traditional images in the monument. Somehow, all the details were worked out. Throughout the entire controversy, Lin stood up to her critics with an intellectual integrity that ultimately aided in the persuasion of the construction of the monument.
Lin's continued growth as an artist and as a human being is the real subject of this film. Mock shows Lin working on other soon-to-be famous designs such as her Civil Rights Memorial in Alabama, another large engraved stone piece. She also shows Lin visiting sites of other sculptures and buildings she would design. It is clear how strongly she relates to the earth and to the ground on which her structures will stand, and how directly her natural surroundings determine the direction of her work.
Overall, the film is a fitting tribute to an artist who has had a wondrous career for someone so young, and has a long great career ahead.
Technical Evaluation
The cinematography in "Maya Lin" is somewhat unadorned, as it is with most documentary films. It is more on a realistic level that is concerned with content rather than form or technique.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Look into the Life of an Artist May 15 2003
I watched this documentary when I was a senior in college for a class. Maya Lin's creative process and the way she carries out her simple yet very meanful designs is intriguing. However, the documentary itself was somewhat flat and boring. Granted, I watched this documentary in a classroom setting where every movie shown can cause a college student to fall deep into the depths of sleep, but I still think the documentary could have been more interesting. I have watched documenatries about other artists, such as Chihuly, which were very captivating, but unfortunately this one was not. It's unfortunate because we all can learn so much from Maya Lin's creative processes.
I would recommend this film to people interested in the creative process and learning about how a young undergraduate from Yale designed one of the United States most touching and celebrated memorials.
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1.0 out of 5 stars great artist, lousy documentary April 30 2003
I don't know about the DVD edition... but this is one of the least interesting documentaries I've ever seen. Maya Lin herself is clearly a gifted artist, but this is a standard paint-by-numbers documentary. You don't learn anything you couldn't have learned in a magazine article, it doesn't exploit the film medium at all, there's nothing in the form of this documentary that couldn't be used in a documentary about any successful person.
The fact that it won an oscar just shows how screwed up the Oscar selection process was at that time for documentaries.
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