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Simon Schama's Power of Art
Simon Schama's Power of Art
Actor: Simon Schama
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     6hr 40min

Beautiful. Fascinating. Emotional. Art is all of the above. But only a few are powerful. These are the works that not only lift you off your feet in their sheer artistry, they forever alter the human psyche. Focusing on ei...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Simon Schama
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/19/2007
Original Release Date: 06/05/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 6hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Compelling introduction to some of the greats in Art
Michael Wilkinson | Phoenix, Arizona - USA | 03/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was fortunate to be able to see the BBC (Region 2) version of this series and I found it very compelling and interesting. Simon does a very persuasive job of explaining how and why (he feels) these greats (Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso) standout in the annuals of art. A very easily accessible series for even the most uninitiated in the subject; highly recommended by this art novice. I only wish there were more episodes in the series!"
Provocative Talks of Art that Invades Your Soul
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 07/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everyone interested in Western art will WANT to own this disc...we are confronted with the art works that make our brains spin and our hearts leap out. Simon Schama begins his discussion with Caravaggio's "David and Goliath." Rather than depict the artist as the heroic figure, Caravaggio astounds us by portraying himself as the severed head of the monster, the enemy. The film technique used by the director is to explore the biography of the artist, earlier works that lead up to this one, and the cultural moment to understand WHY the artist sees himself in this light.

In the next disc, one of the artists examined is William Turner. I had always associated Turner with wonderful use of light, color, and the birth of English impressionism. But Simon Schama shows us the dark side of
Turner...artworks like a limp Death riding a Pale Horse. The key artwork we are to contemplate is a painting of a slave ship...a deeply disturbing work of an infamous scandal in British history where slaves were thrown overboard alive into the churning shark filled sea. What Schama explains is that Turner's mother had gone insane after losing her daughter and been transformed into a screaming hysteric. Only after this film did I start to notice screaming heads in Turner's sunsets, vapors, and white clouds. Without the historical reconstruction, I would never have understood this side of the painter's work.

In the last disc, we confront Picasso and his greatest (political) masterpiece, "Guernica." We are taken on a tour of Picasso's interior life and witness his change: He grows from seeking liberation for creative art into seeking liberation of all people from aggressive power and fascism.

In summary, after having my "mind blown" by Schama's penetrating analysis of one work of art, I couldn't wait to see the next episode. Because the discussions, reconstructions, and art masterpieces themselves are very graphic, even disturbing, wait until your children are ready to show them this series...indeed, that is the point - the Power of Art - to move us."
On the Power of Art
Alexis Pajares | BROOKLYN, NY USA | 07/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Schama in a recent presentation of this documentary. I first became famliar to his work through his book "The Power of Art." His documentary is an excellent companion to a really great book. When the documentary began to be shown on PBS, I knew I had to have a copy (eventually,I bought two copies).

The most important aspect of this documentary, in my opinion, is connected to the fact that Simon Schama is not all too concerned with styles or techniques but with historical context and its impact in the work of each artist he selected. Each work is presented as a reaction to the events of the time. Simon Schama also goes deep into the lives of each artist and provides us with a better understanding of their motivations and personal relationships. These artists become very human and for that reason very much like us. The combination of these factors result in the creation of amazing works of art that are a universal manifestations of human nature and emotion. It is because the message of each piece is so human, so universal, that the art becomes memorable. It is for this reason that these masterpieces continue to talk to us beyond the limitations of time. This is the real power of art!

As an art history teacher, I truly enjoyed Simon Schama's approach to art history. I tend to teach in very similar lines. For those who are not necessarily interested in art (find that hard to believe) this documentary would provide a great deal of information tnat is exciting and entertaining."
Applause, but a Good Kick in the Rear to Schama for Failing
Christopher Beckwith | Minneapolis | 07/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"No doubt many are wondering: what was that haunting counter-tenor aria floating through the David episode: Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus in G Minor, RV 608: IV. In fact, there are a number of exceptional musical works that make up the soundtrack of this series, and that you should have to wonder what they are without mention of them in the credits is annoying. Mr. Schama's and his producer's failure to list music credits for each of the shows in the Power of Art, brilliant though the series was, was a grotesque oversight and they ought to be read the riot act. How such smart people could make so egregious and stupid an error as overlooking the power of the music they obviously spent so much time and attention selecting is beyond me. Quite infuriating! Details like these matter. After all, Mr. Schama has made a career looking at the details. He should know better."