Degas & The Dance –
The Man Behind The Easel
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