So this is a movie about two artists going to movies… It features a group of artists talking about the eponymous artists. And this is a review of that movie. If I haven’t already lost you, let me give you some more to the point information. This is an hour long documentary narrated by Martin Scorsese. It revolves around how, in the early twentieth century, the new artform of film influenced the Cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
In some ways, it’s your usual talking-head documentary. A lot of learned individuals discussing the artists, interspersed with footage. The style is more or less like a Ken Burns documentary. Normally, I’m not too enthusiastic about these types of docs, but this one’s exceptional for one reason… Not the commentators, not the thesis of these artists watching silent films (even by the end, the exact point of the movie is unclear)… What makes this worthy of a serious recommendation is the footage they compiled. This has a huge selection of very early film experiments. There’s a lot of Melies. If you haven’t heard of him, Melies was a magician who applied his talents to film and produced some zany camera tricks in numerous short films. Most modern viewers will easily figure out how these were made, but they’re entertaining nonetheless. One of the other really great pieces of film shown here is a silent slapstick film called The Accordion, a long slapstick gag involving a guy getting stuck in a big accordion. On top of this, there’s a lot of pictures of Picasso and Braques as well as their paintings. Martin Scorsese’s always informative. I’d recommend this doc to anyone interested in Modernist art.
Here’s a link to Melies most famous short film, The Trip to the Moon.
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If you’re planning to see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, you should definitely also check out Picasso and Bracques Go to the Movies, both of which feautre Georges Melies.