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Brian Sewell's Grand Tour of Italy
Brian Sewell's Grand Tour of Italy
Actor: Brian Sewell
Director: Christopher Bruce
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
NR     2009     6hr 26min

Famed British art critic leads the ultimate Italian adventure In the 18th century, well-bred English gentlemen would undertake a Grand Tour of the Continent for refinement--as well as for drinking, gambling, and sexual adv...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Brian Sewell
Director: Christopher Bruce
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Travel, Educational, Documentary
Studio: Athena
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 08/04/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 6hr 26min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 07/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"BRIAN SEWELL'S GRAND TOUR OF ITALY is grande indeed. TEN episodes show what the upper-teenage British nobility route that might have been taken plus the sights seen. This recreation of a "Grand Tour" trek (via car, not carriage) was researched from books and diaries left behind 300 years ago by the young men who set out to finish their education in Italy. The trip took months, a year, or more. It was designed for the gentlemen to see the best art (and purchase some), architecture, experience the Italian culture, learn the language, and experience the female "freedoms".

Over 24 cities and small towns are passed through and filmed. Beautiful. Local people open their hearts to the film viewers. Every stop is another historical moment in the lives of the Grand Tourists. Each displays paintings, architecture, and/or artifacts that can be seen up close as well as from a picturesque nearby hillside. IT IS AN ADVENTURE WITH ITALIAN PAINTING, ARCHITECTURE, RAPHAEL, TITIAN, MICHELANGELO, & an intense view of the cities of FLORENCE, ROME, AND VENICE (just to name 3).

Your filmed Grand Tour has as its guide, famous & controversial art critic, Brian Sewell. So why 4 stars, and not 5?

Sewell often rubbed me the wrong way. But he's won reviewing awards; I have not. At times I wished I could pay a few extra Euros and get a new tour guide. Perhaps one as knowledgeable as Sewell is tough finding. Honestly, there is a lot of intellectual wealth from Sewell.

What's wrong with Sewell? Often his personal taste, conservative to the n-th degree, has him putting down much Italian art, architecture, life, wine, food, etc. and using terms as "It's awful!", "Reduculous", "Awful". Sometimes he's wrong, I've been to Italy. Just outside of the Pompeii digs gate is the best pizza in the world (my opinion). Sewell refused to eat Italian pizza, and made fun of most of what he did eat on film. Italians will never buy this DVD set.

At a Renaissance church in Todi, (he nicknamed "Pepper Pot"), he stated upon exiting, "Well, dear, oh dear and lawks a mercy. that's a bit of a dog's dinner. Pedigree chum, but still a dog's dinner." When Sewell abounds in intellect, he fails in tact.

Perhaps Sewell wants to comically portray the manner and breadth of the Grand Tourist's educational aspect regarding the bird and the bees. It sounds more like he's hung up in some perverted way with classical nude painting and sculpture, fixing on "buttocks" and other personal body parts. "Gosh!" (his word). And then he's a bit over the top with his gestures, overly dramatic speech, and his white umbrella. Perhaps I'm just too picky nicky. "Gosh!" "Awful."

Aside from Sewell's quirks and humor bits, this is "bloody good" viewing.
The 4-DVD set is really very good, highly recommended. Educational, pleasant to the eye and ear, historically wonderful, and cheap. It costs less than the price of a pair of passport photos.
....Bonus Features add additional facts on Italian artists of the period, explanations of terms and tidbits like fancy dressed "macaroni", map, list of what the rich tourists packed, and more.
....THANKS ATHENA FOR THE SUBTITLES. Very helpful for names & places.
....And a Biography of Brian Sewell explaining why my opinion of him is certainly not acceptable to the British.

This is Italy like I've never seen it on film prior."
More Vinegar than Olive Oil
busyperson7 | Ca | 10/31/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"One can almost call this the pornographic tour of Italy amid an art critic's obsession with male body parts and macarone and sexually transmitted diseases. While I appreciated the art content and some of the commentary of Mr. Sewell, I did find exception to much of the material presented as well as the over emphasis on the sexual behavior of the young British aristocrats who took the original tour. The program is based on the accounts of these British males who embarked on a journey through Italy during the Renaissance in search of refinement in order to complete their education. What was presented in the program is based in part on their accounts as well as the accounts of Mr. Sewell's own boyhood journeys. The program begins in the Northern Italian Alps and ends in Venice. With this agenda in mind, one would expect to learn a great deal of what Italy was really like during the Renaissance and therein lies the problem. While I did learn a few things, it seemed that whatever enlightenment was at hand, it always devolved into another anthology of lustful encounters, preoccupation with male body parts and contracted sexual diseases. While these certainly may have been part of the journey as boys will be boys, it seemed to highlight it more than was necessary or conducive to the program. The image that one is left of is that Italians were nothing more than vain, selfish, cruel and lusty vagabonds riddled with sexually transmitted diseases, hardly an accurate or fair portrayal of any culture or society. Also the references to cures of the day showcasing the most absurd ones was unusually unkind and ignorant. This was a time before modern medicine when people looked to herbs and home remedies or anything else they could think of in order to help themselves and each other. They did what they could with what they had. And some of the cures did work, a fact that is overlooked by Mr. Sewell. I also had objections to his comments about Rome, having been there several times. That portion of the program was a huge disappointment for me and apparently for Mr. Sewell as well considering his blase commentary on it. Granted, Rome was in ruins at the time of the Renaissance and only a shadow of its former self, but his callous dismissal of the city was unconscionable. This was the birthplace of the Roman Catholicism, Western Art and civilization, and one of the greatest cities in the world if not the greatest. I felt his comments there reeked of disrespect and a contempt of sorts. And his continuous remarks about Italian food was not only insulting to Italians but to anyone with a palate. As another reviewer noted, the Italians will not be watching this program. I won't go farther except to say that Mr. Sewell's constant preoccupation with male body parts, his over emphasis on sexual encounters, at times callous and overly opinionated handling of the material and lack of showcasing many worthy locations made for disappointing viewing for me. I began to feel during the program that had anyone else been at the helm, I would have enjoyed the journey much more. I suggest Mr. Sewell put his own fantasies and prejudices aside and focus on delivering a more realistic depiction of European lands and the great civilizations which inhabited them as well as more accurate portrayals of the mores and manners which truly shaped them."
Saw all the episodes on Gallery TV
B. Pelser | 05/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a fun & fascinating look at the Grand Tour experience of the British aristocracy as seen through the eyes of the decidedly opinionated & droll Brian Sewell. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Sewell in action and you enjoy art history, I urge you to check out this series. I have been waiting years for this release on US-compatible DVD and am eager to watch it all over again; I can't wait to add it to my personal collection!!"
Would love to travel with Brian Sewell
S. DuRoss | Bethesda, MD | 08/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is not your typical art history tour of Italy - it is so much more fun. Sewell has so many wonderful stories of his Grand Tour as a student while he retraces his steps. How I wish I was sitting in the car next to him.

If you love Italy, Art or armchair travel in general make sure to pick this up. I spent a semester in Italy and obviously missed a lot. I was never bored and wish I had this DVD when I was a student."