A Strong Clear Vision – Film Review

Sample Review 1

This is a documentary about the architect-artist Maya Lin, focusing on her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and onto her other works for the next 14 years including the Civil Rights Memorial in Alabama; during which time she emerges from being an insecure student to a confident professional. The documentary won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1994.

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The film clearly captures Maya Lin’s defense of her design against strong opposition from many people including powerful politicians who preferred a traditional type of monument. The opposition was not really based on merit but rather that she was then a nondescript, young, Asian-American female. As she points out in the documentary, she would not have won the competition for the design of the memorial was it not that the 1441 entries were submitted using numbers rather than names. Submitting her design which she had done as a class assignment while still an undergraduate student at Yale University, she beat many established professionals who had submitted grander designs. Yet her design won because of its simplicity, preciseness and elegance.

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Despite the strong opposition that saw her being called a “gook” and her design referred to as a “black scar in a hole”, 20-year-old Maya Lin had a strong clear vision, tearfully defending the design at various public hearings in the capital despite her soft-spoken, understated demeanor. The veterans whom the politicians were trying to impress gradually took her side due to an increasing realization of the uniqueness and special qualities of the design. The vested interests of corporations are represented by powerful lobby groups and politicians who form movements to oppose the young artist. They wish to appeal to an electorate to attain power and prestige at the expense of art and to the detriment of an aspiring upstart. But because of the young woman’s strong clear vision, she withstands all these to carry the day and today owns her own corporation, Maya Lin Studio based in New York.

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Sample Review 2

This film is considered as the most beloved and successful memorial movie of the time. The film was presented in the most simple and elegant manner through presentation of statement without even trying to complicate the issues. In this documentary film, the most touching scene was the miracle, which formed the foundation of this film. In the present time, when the memorial is universally beloved, some people are quick to point out that they fought against it because the memorial did not sink well with them best on their taste and judgment (Mock, 1995). The story of the memorial was entered in the folklore for a national competition that was help to select a winning design. A total of 1,444 entries filled in for the competition, which was one of the competition that received as many entries enough to fill a gymnasium. After the committee sifted through all the entries, they settled on stark design that was designed by Maya Lin, which was at the time unknown guy.

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            Considering that most of the entries came from well-known and famous professionals, they settled on Lin’s piece. After conducting background checks, the committee realized that Lin was an undergraduate student and the piece was done as class assignment. Her work stood out in the thickets of many entries that featured tired monumental themes and gaudy architecture. The secret with her work was that it perfectly served the purpose as it was intended and expected by the committee (Mock, 1995). However, her opponent and competitors were not seeing thing from the same perspective as the others. This is because most of the opponents were seeing things from conservative perspective and what they expected to see was a traditional memorial, which are normally hang on the courthouses square and decked with the emblems of patriotism such as eagles, flags or statute of soldiers. In fact, one of her opponent criticized the memorial as an
“insulting and depressing…a black scar in a hole.”

            Some of the scenes that stood out in the documentary was the time Maya Lin fiercely and tearfully defended her memorial design at public hearing in Washington when she was only 20 years old. The film clearly illuminated how opponents looked Maya as a young, women and Asian American (Mock, 1995). These objection had nothing to do with the designs of the memorial than with a desire to curry favor with veteran’s groups. Maya Lin memorial design reflected the increasing realization among veterans and the determination of the committee that it was special design with unique and irreplaceable qualities. “A Strong Clear Vision” demonstrated that art is a matter of empting minds from all words and allowing proportions, tones and shapes to remain.

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