Image Entertainment // 2009 // 40 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 24th, 2010
Ready! Set! Gogh!
Director Francois Bertrand's examination of Vincent Van Gogh and his artistry may clock in at a brief 40 minutes, but for anyone even mildly interested in the subject matter -- be it Van Gogh's life in particular or art in general -- owes it to him or herself to track this disc down.
And it has to be the Blu-ray, because this documentary is visually stunning. Projected in an absolutely gorgeous 1080p, 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, the film is perfectly suited for the format. Brush with Genius was originally built for IMAX and it's easy to sense its pedigree: the imagery is eye-blisteringly bright and colorful, paintings are soaked in by the camera, the shots of the real-life landscapes that Van Gogh painted are expansive and the girl who works in the Van Gogh museum is super hot.
This is straight-up eyeball nookie and if there ever was a production built for the the enhanced resolution that Blu provides it's this; the camera simply fawns over Van Gogh's paintings, and the boosted clarity picks up every brush stroke, every texture, every color shade. It's a remarkable visual experience. (The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is solid, but has little to do in what is essentially a mix that is all narration and score.)
There's some terrific substance behind the sheen as well. In an interesting move, the feature is narrated by the voice of Van Gogh, as if he's guiding the audience from beyond the grave. Granted, it sounds weird, but it works here. The film takes on a nice personal touch and lends some weight to the story, preventing the excursion from degrading into a dry documentary you'd be forced to sit through in an Intro to Visual Arts class. Van Gogh's personal and professional life is followed all the way to his suicide (a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, which eventually killed him two days later -- yeesh!), with stops along the way to his preferred painting locales.
Interesting and engaging, though perhaps too brisk to really delve into what made Van Gogh tick.
Extras: A lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette (in HD) and a nifty slideshow of Van Gogh artwork.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 40 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated