What Judge Ian Visser does with a forty-ton block of marble is nobody's business but his own.
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
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.
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.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
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