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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Art > Degas & The Dance (Art)

Degas & The Dance – The Man Behind The Easel (Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Main Program: B-



French Impressionist Edgar Degas is a groundbreaking painter, especially in dealing with the human form, particularly that of women and women in ballet.  Degas & The Dance – The Man Behind The Easel (2003) attempts to look at his life, times and art in a way that “paints” both his motivations and his life.


Frank Langella narrates writer/director Mischa Scorer’s hour-long exercise in exploration of a key artist, which never gets boring, but ultimately does not seem as long as it needs or deserves to be.  A link is made a few times between Degas and not only still photography, but also the moving image, arguing to some extent that he was a forerunner of filmmaking.  That has some validity, but most important is the exploration of his particular brand of Impressionism that stands all on its own.  This is basically comprehensive at any rate.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 x 1 image is not awful but still a tad disappointing, especially since this is painted canvas we are dealing with.  This was a TV production and then what is likely High Definition video has been traded down here with a bit more detail loss than expected, though I wonder how sharp the original HD really was.  If this is film, it is a major transfer problem, but I doubt that.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French or English) sadly offers no real surround information (i.e., Pro Logic), but is clear enough, which extends to the extras.  The “audio tour” section where experts comment on the paintings is choppy and does not offer a play all function.  That is a big mistake.  The 83-years timeline is nice, though not as interactive, so you cannot click onto anything on the timeline for more details, which is unfortunate.  Paris Opera maquettes (statuettes) and some ballet demonstrations of how it differed then are also included.  For those who are fans of Degas, it will do well enough, while those who know next to nothing about him have a good introduction here.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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