Published on March 24th, 2012 | by Mike Stuchbery0
DVD Cabinet of the Gods #2: Simon Schama’s ‘The Power Of Art’.
Dude, what, are you kidding me? An art documentary?
An art documentary series, I’ll have you know. Following his monumental A History Of Britain in 2000, the BBC commissioned historian and art critic Simon Schama to create a host a series that explored some of his favourite artworks, from Caravaggio’s David With The Head Of Goliath to Rothko’s Black On Maroon.
So what distinguishes this from whatever’s on ABC of a Sunday afternoon?
Simon Schama! Seriously, here we have a host who not only knows his stuff, but can phrase and frame complex ideas in a way that the layperson can understand. What’s more, such is his passion for the material, that you can’t help but be caught up and want to know more about these eight artists.
Schama draws us in, exposing the traits that contributed to their genius, but also led to them often leading miserable, tortured lives. He has us barracking for them one minute, wanting to spit on them the next. He works his audience mercilessly, taking them on a ride and redefining what an art history talk can be.
Hell, he might be the best lecturer in the world, but that’s not gonna keep me glued to the couch.
Really? You’d be surprised.
If that’s not enough, The Power of Art has a few tricks up its sleeve. There’s the use of skillful recreations of pivotal moments in artists lives. Watch out out Andy Serkis as Van Gogh, in a performance lesser actors have won awards. There’s also a stunning use of camera to hone in on key parts of an image or statue and a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack that captivates and draws you in.
Also, there’s nudity. Albeit nudity made large in oil paint and marble, but nudity nonetheless.
Oh, and there’s a nun having an orgasm.
Would I lie to you? Go to the episode about Bernini.
Awesome. Make sure you check out the special features, where Schama comments on the process of putting each episode together.
Next week, Ultraviolet!