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Case Number 18685: Small Claims Court

Buy the DVD at 291filmcompany.ca

Landscape As Muse: Season 4

291 Film Company // 2008 // 138 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // April 8th, 2010

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• Buy the DVD at 291filmcompany.ca


All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart likes landscape to amuse.

Editor's Note

Our review of Landscape As Muse: Season 5, published June 16th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

"I do have this wild, private piece of landscape."—Marlene Creates

The Case

In Landscape as Muse: Season 4, artists share their private pieces of Canada's landscape with viewers. This show originally ran on a Canadian network called Bravo!, but you won't find fashionistas, chefs, or allegedly real housewives anywhere in its six episodes.

The episodes, numbered forty to forty-five in the complete series, are as follows:

• "The Rock to the Rockies" with David Alexander
The painter from British Columbia looks at Newfoundland's rocky Atlantic coastline, and then at British Columbia's Purcell Mountains.

• "The Beaver" with Mary Ann Barkhouse
The sculptor and installation artist tours beaver ponds near her home in Ontario's Haliburton Highlands as she readies a bronze of a beaver hard at work.

• "In the Pines" with Robert Wiens
The painter walks through the ancient pine forests of Temagami in Ontario.

• "Faces in the Land" with Dempsey Bob
The Tahitan-Tlingit woodcarver considers how ancestral spirits are reflected in the landscape around the Skeena River.

• "The Tolt, The Droke, & The Blasthole Pond River" with Marlene Creates
The installation artist keeps an "inventory" book of notes and photos of the microclimates around her home in Newfoundland.

• "Boggy Creek" with Joe Fafard
The sculptor of large animals such as horses and cows admires "the tangle and the messiness" of the Boggy Creek, Saskatchewan, landscape.

While I'd imagine that the main focus of Landscape as Muse is intended to be the artists, the natural scenes shown could be at least as much of a draw. Even if you have no artistic ability or interest whatsoever, you could probably enjoy Landscape as Muse as a relaxing, scenic travel show. The shots of Canada's landscape are all beautiful, and splendidly rendered for television. There's narration from the artists as they explain their inspirations, and it combines with gentle music and ambient nature sounds.

If you have an interest in art, watching the artists at work is also compelling. Probably the most interesting moments of this sort were watching Mary Ann Barkhouse work with a blowtorch as she refines her beaver sculpture and seeing Dempsey Bob putting the finishing touches on his carvings in a high-traffic building, seemingly far removed from the natural landscape that inspired him.

Each episode briefly touches on the facts behind the nature with text on the screen. My favorite: "Apart from humans, no single animals makes greater changes to nature than the beaver." Watching the beavers constantly adding to their dams and lodges could have you wondering whether their compulsion to work comes from the external need of breaches in their handiwork or an internal need to build. After all, the beavers could be considered artists of the natural landscape as well, and their motivations would influence the finished sculpture.

I can't imagine a show like this appearing in the United States, even on public television or a cable outlet like Discovery or Travel Channel, let alone lasting five seasons, as the show's Web site tells me. It's just too quiet a show. However, viewers with an artistic interest and a reflective mood could find Landscape as Muse fascinating.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Muse is a worthwhile part of the television landscape.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: 291 Film Company
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 138 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• Official Site

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