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Case Number 11156: Small Claims Court

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Sculptures Of The Louvre

Koch Vision // 2006 // 192 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // April 5th, 2007

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All Rise...

What Judge Ian Visser does with a forty-ton block of marble is nobody's business but his own.

The Case

The Louvre is arguably the greatest art museum of the world. Established in 1793, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in all of Europe and holds more than 35,000 works in its collection. But aside from the famous Mona Lisa, there are many other works of power and grace contained within the Louvre's walls. Sculptures of the Louvre details seven of the museum's greatest art treasures, and through a detailed examination of each, viewers will come to appreciate the majesty of these creations carved from the earth itself. There are seven episodes in the collection, presented across two disks:

• Slaves of Michelangelo
Two of Michelangelo's unfinished masterpieces, these contrasting figures demonstrate the master's genius with the male form.
• The Horses of Marly: Created nearly forty years apart, two grand sets of horses reveal the contrasting stylistic qualities of two very different periods.
• The Vénus de Milo: She is perhaps the most famous of all Greek classical sculptures. But there is great mystery behind both the sculpture and its subject…
• Bulls of Khorsabad: Created nearly 4000 years ago, the Winged Bulls of King Sargon II are amongst the masterpieces of Assyrian art.
• Cupid and Psyché: An ancient legend is reborn in the 18th century by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.
• Ramses II: Discovered at the Egyptian site of Tanis, this statue is one of the most famous of all the Egyptian royal sculptures.
• Mary Magdalene: A constant subject of art throughout the ages, Mary represents the redemption of the female sinner set in stone.

Sculptures of the Louvre appears to be sourced from a recent series that aired on French television. Each sculpture featured is presented in a similar format; a narrator gives a physical description, details the history its artist, describes the period of its creation, and explains the composition and elements that make up the statue's form. Lighting and camera movement is used to accentuate the work and reveal nuances in each piece. Orchestral music accompanies each presentation in a subtle and restrained manner.
At approximately 26 minutes in length, each episode is long enough to allow a full examination of each piece and its provenance. Although the series takes a largely European focus to its subjects, examples are presented from other regions such as Assyria and Egypt. The series also provides viewers with both well-known (Vénus de Milo) and more obscure (Cupid and Psyché) examples of the Louvre's collection.

The use of a moving camera to examine the statues gives viewers a fresh perspective on the otherwise static figures. This is especially true for the Horses of Marly, four enormous examples which stand in a Louvre gallery on high pedestals. The roaming camera allows for a unique revolving view of the figures, a perspective that would otherwise be impossible to gain. This inclusion creates an awareness of the statues that, in some ways, is superior to even a first-hand witnessing.

Looking at a single sculpture for a half an hour can become tedious, so Sculptures of the Louvre adds some pep by expanding on each sculptures origins with modern footage. Director Martin Fraudreau wisely avoids the use of actors in these re-creations, focusing instead on filming the original locations of the figures and their places of creation. We see the occasional hand working with a chisel, but never are we asked to believe that a live actor is standing in for Michelangelo or Guillaume Coustou the Elder. As a result, viewers focus exclusively on the sculptures and their history. We also get a chance to see some amazing sights, such as the original plans for the massive Chateau du Marly and the still-used marble quarries of Italy. This examination of the setting and origins of the pieces truly allows another dimension of appreciation to be developed.

If there is a flaw in Sculptures of the Louvre it is the lack of explanation surrounding the elements of art itself. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of how absolutism during the reign of King So-and-So presented itself in the works of the day, you'll have to track down the details yourself. However, the material is ultimately neither high-handed nor pandering, ensuring that even the most casual of appreciators will gain something from the experience.

Sculptures of the Louvre is presented in what I believe to be 1.78:1 widescreen. On-line information claims the ratio is 1.33:1, but this is not the case. This is an excellent presentation, the colors being well-balanced and the blacks solid and dark. Interior and exterior location shots are equally impressive to behold, and the transfer contains no visible defects. The Dolby digital audio track isn't required to do a lot of heavy lifting, but the narration is clear and the humming of strings and the chirping of woodwinds sounds flawless. The only extras consist of three trailers for other Koch Vision offerings.

What is the final verdict on Sculptures of the Louvre? A near-perfect offering, this collected series is top-notch in both quality and content. Art and Louvre fans alike shouldn't hesitate to add this great effort to their collection, while anyone seeking a greater knowledge of sculpture will be sure to benefit from a viewing.

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 92

Perp Profile

Studio: Koch Vision
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 192 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailers


• Official Site
• The Louvre Museum

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