In each episode historian Simon Schama treats, in his own erudite, unconventional and somewhat socially engaged style, a work of art from a great master. He concentrates not just on the art...
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Sir Kenneth Clarke guides us through the ages exploring the glorious rise of civilisation in western man. Beginning with the bleakness of the dark ages to the present day, we consider ... See full summary »
Nine-part series telling the story of art from the dawn of human history to the present day, for the first time on a global scale. It is now nearly half a century since Kenneth Clark's ... See full summary »
To coincide with the US elections of 2008 comes this refreshing antidote to the whir of sensationalist spin and scandal, measuring up to the seriousness of the moment without diluting the ... See full summary »
In each episode historian Simon Schama treats, in his own erudite, unconventional and somewhat socially engaged style, a work of art from a great master. He concentrates not just on the art history as such, but mainly on the relationship between the work and the historical context of its creation, as this touches the significance of and vision on the subject as well as the life of the artist: where and when did he produce it, why, for which destination...Written by
If Mr. Schama spoke any more slowly, more painstakingly divided his syllables, I might not recognize the language he speaks in.
More importantly, the writers and directors of pieces like this should recall what information is available at almost every viewer's fingertips. One can access a summary of most documentary subjects literally within a few minutes. I tested this hypothesis with the hour long piece on Turner. In a few keystrokes, I was able to find two summaries on the web that included most of the data Schama presents. Perhaps ten, 15 percent of what Schama tells or shows us remained harder to find, and what consisted of original analysis was nearly absent.
And what is the purpose of the cinema-like shots that suggest some sort of hint toward reenactments? There is often little rhyme or reason to when or why they occur. They last a second or two and seem selected based on their potential for filler and gloss. At one point, we see a hand in shallow focus scraping at a canvas. This is supposed to help us imagine Turner doing his work as a painter? Gimme a break.
Watching something like this is nearly a waste of time. I suppose you could turn down the volume and imagine your own narration. Better still, go to a museum or library instead. At least you'll get off your couch.
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