Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 15. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted a story on a Mahler 2 recording at the Gewandhaus that might be considered DOA from the dread plague.

I recently put up a story about the 3rd version (!) of the same Giselle production published by Opus Arte. I recently posted a story about the Ekman Midsummer Night's Dream ballet (which has nothing to do with Shakespeare). I also just posted two stories about Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first is a definitive stage play version by the RSC. The second is an updated review of The Tempest movie staring Helen Mirren as Prospera (the female version of Prospero). The movie is streamlined - try it first. Then move on to the RSC "real deal", which is probably the best The Tempest ever made for home viewing.

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Entries in Razor Digital (1)

Tuesday
Nov202012

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh plastic arts title and documentary about the work and life of Vincent van Gogh.  Eline Timmer directs the main film showing about 100 paintings from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as well as images of famous paintings located in other museums around the world. The film is has interviews in which art history experts discuss in detail each stage in van Gogh's life and of his development as artist. A bonus feature explains what happened to the paintings van Gogh left at his death and why some 200 of the best paintings are still in two museums in Holland. Released in 2011, title was shot with digital cameras in "Full HD 1080P" at 30 fps; disc has  5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade: A-

When I first stumbled onto this title on Amazon.com I thought, "This must be another one of those van Gogh dramas about paid love and missing body parts." But something told me to buy it anyway. It turned out to be what we have been waiting for for 5 years (since the first fine-art HDVD was published): a serious treatment in high-definition TV of a large number of paintings and drawings expertly discussed by art historians. This is a milestone for fine-art HDVD fans, and I found it by accident! Well, it's a milestone for folks who have a good command of either Dutch or English (more later about the language problem with this disc.)

There are 3 segments on this title. The main program lasts 135 minutes and is called Vincent van Gogh Een leven voor de kunst or Vincent van Gogh, A Life for Art. There is an extra that lasts 15 minutes called Van Goghs roem zijn tweede leven or Van Gogh's Fame---His Second Life. Finally, there is a Picture Gallery that displays 14 paintings.

The main program divides van Gogh's life in 5 periods. The full resources of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are exploited for each period. You see wonderful shots of numerous painting and drawings, historical pictures, excepts from letters, and the like as well as great high-def videos showing today many locations and buildings that van Gogh knew. What you see is explained in voice-over narration and via numerous short interviews with the experts from the Van Gogh Museum. The material is quite detailed and absorbing---the 2 hours and 14 minutes goes by fast. The main program ends with Vincent's death.

Most or all of Van Gogh's most popular paintings are shown in this title, but I will not bore you with screen shots of many of them. The real benefit from this title is it's depiction of the breadth of the 800+ paintings Van Gogh left. Quite a few early works are shown, which tend to be dark and crude-looking views of the lives of farmers and workers. When Vincent moved to Paris, he started using more color as in this floral still life:

The film gives you many opportunities to compare Vincent's oil paintings to photographs of what Vincent was actually seeing from his easel.  For example, here is a old photo of the "Yellow House" in Arles where Vincent tried to set up an artists' commune:

And here is the painting Vincent made of the exterior:

 

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