Taliesin-West

via PrairieMod

Here is an old film of Taliesin West. Made in 1950, it feels like every filmstrip you ever saw in elementary school (at least, if you are over the age of 35). The classical score is overbearing, the narration is charmingly pompous — written by Wright himself, naturally — and the camerawork is simple but there is some great stuff here. The film conveys a great sense of the desert landscape around the site when Wright was there, before the growth that brought Phoenix and Scottsdale nearly to its doorstep; you’ll understand the appeal of the “desert camp” that Wright wanted. Wright’s desert masonry is the star of the show, with long, panning shots showing how it tucks into the landscape and visually pulls the structures down to the earth.

John Geiger’s site has an entry on how desert masonry was made, and he worked on the walls seen in the video.

“Taliesin-West” is part of the Perlinger Archives, a collection of “ephemeral” films (such as advertising and educational films) that is now part of the collections of the Library of Congress. There is massive amounts of cool stuff in the archive; you can browse the categories here. There are two films of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, some of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. I’m certain there is a lot more great stuff there, but the tagging system isn’t comprehensive. Poke around, I thing you’ll find great stuff.