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A Model for Matisse
A Model for Matisse
Actor: Sister Jacques-Marie
Director: Barbara Freed
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 7min

{Winner! Best Documentary Avignon/New York Film Festival} — {Winner! Best Film for Television Int'l Festival for Films on Art} — Monique Bourgeois was a 21-year-old nursing student and amateur artist living in Nice when, in ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Sister Jacques-Marie
Director: Barbara Freed
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Documentary
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 08/22/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 7min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The history of Matisse's lovely chapel in the French Riviera
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 09/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The title suggests that Matisse's friend (Sister Jacques Marie)
was an important model as well as the inspiration for
the chapel in Vence, France. Both are overstatements. Yes, while she was a nurse for Matisse, he did some drawings and paintings of her but she was not his significant model. Nor was she the "inspiration" for the Chapel but was instead his good companion and liason for the project.

Personally, I did not find Sister Jacques Marie to be a particularly interesting woman. She is a solid French individual, honest, the salt of the earth, and absolutely unpretentious. But she does not seem the sort to inspire Matisse either creatively or romantically.

The star of the film is Matisse himself...and of course, the chapel itself. It is a marvelous thing. I did not realize that he was involved in almost every aspect of the project, from the
floor, the walls, the stained glass windows, the drawings of the
stations of the cross, the sculpture. What was his inspiration? His understanding of God as a source of life and joy...and beauty. Even the vestments, yes the priest vestments are the art of Matisse. Wonderful.

Certain facts were quite intriguing. At times, Matisse had to paint the walls of the chapel with a 9 foot brush which was quite a task for a man over 70 years. The original impression of the community was not favorable; the common folk were used to conservative churches. Perhaps the saddest fact of this documentary was that at Matisse's death, the Church would not allow Sister Jackques Marie to honor her friend by attending the funeral. That, in my view, is inexcusable.

I would recommend renting the film rather than purchasing it. The subtitles were somehwat hard to read and the pace is quite slow. What makes the movie significant are the scenes in which the chapel is being built and the sensation of delight once this lovely tribute to God was complete."
Intimate story of the Master of Light
Mr. Stephen Kennedy | Doha, Qatar | 05/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary is quite full summed up in the title. Although written, remembered and told from the perspective of Sister Jacques-Marie, the subject is of course the creation of the wonderful Chapel of Vence by Matisse.
The burgeoning friendship that grew between the nun and Matisse is interesting, if not quite fascinating, and told in a very understated way by the Sister herself. Most of the film is therefore in French, with subtitles. However, the interest really picks up when she talks about his art, and most especially the creation of the chapel itself. Matisse saw through every aspect of its creation, and it is fascinating to learn of his intended effect with the details which Sister Jacques-Marie mentions. The anemone flowers inspiring the shape of the candlesticks, designing even the priests vestments, the prickly-pear flower motif on the stained glass window - and most especially the light.
Matisse was all about the colour and light - the lines and shapes were often simple - but the combined effect of the light and colours is inspired. There is a moment when through a stained glass window in only three colours, a myriad of colours is shown in an ever changing pattern on the floor of the chapel. It makes the whole documentary worth watching to see this glorious effect.
This movie is shot in a very simple talking heads style, and gains no plaudits for inventive film-making or incisive interviewing, but is worth watching as a highly interesting account of an intimate story and the mind behind the artist."
Very charming
E. Karasik | Washington, DC United States | 09/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a modest little film about a humble and down-to-earth woman, Sister Jacques-Marie, who became a nun early during her acquaintance with Matisse. Originally hired to be his night nurse, she remained his close and loyal friend until his death. Their friendship was the catalyst for the chapel at Vence, which for its time was revolutionary in its modernity and unconventionality. Conducted mostly in interview style, the film remains visually exciting by dwelling lingeringly on Matisse's lovely drawings and the many wonderful details of the chapel. Although Matisse was not overtly religious, the chapel demonstrates the extremes of his devotion; begun when he was in frail health at the age of 75, for him it was a deeply spiritual and utterly consuming passion to which he devoted his remaining years. He left no detail unconsidered, even designing the colorful vestments to be worn during mass. Matisse suffered considerable criticism over the chapel, Sister Jacques-Marie was oppressed for years by her superiors in the convent, and they were both pilloried by the press. Yet in the end they derived enormous satisfaction both from the chapel and from their friendship. A delightful and inspirational exploration of a fascinating friendship."
A MUST-HAVE for Matisse lovers
Tomie Depaola Whitebird Inc. | New London, NH USA | 02/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For anyone interested in the "Maitre's" huge project of the chapel in Vence,
this DVD is a MUST-HAVE.
Soeur Jacques-Marie is interviewed.. She gives a lively, personal account of her envolvement with the project
and with Matisse. She was truly a muse. I give this charming interview 5 stars."