June 28, 2011


Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies was made for a very specific audience, composed primarily of those in academia. This documentary looks at the influences of early cinema on Cubism, specifically focusing on artists Picasso and Braque. Appropriate for cinéphiles, art lovers, and historians, the film is unlikely to appeal to those outside of this scope.  My review after the jump:

The film feels like most documentaries you would watch in class. In fact, it would probably make a great supplement to a lecture on early cinema or Cubism. It alternates between talking heads, clips from early films, and slides with the artists’ art. The talking heads include such names as Martin Scorsese and Julian Schnabel.

picasso-and-braque-go-to-the-movies-image-martin-scorseseOne of the highlights of the film was a portion that focused on dance in early cinema. It showed influential serpentine dancer Loie Fuller, who inspired a multitude of films that showed off this dance style. This sets off the comparison of art and film, specifically the association of film with movement and painting with stillness. The commentators in film discuss how these dance films inspired a sense of movement in Picasso and Braque’s works.

Despite the academic nature of this film, it is not difficult to follow. The filmmakers use appropriate imagery to emphasize the connections that those interviewed are trying to make. There is also good background information about the artists and the time period for those who come in with little knowledge. The Industrial Revolution and the way it changed the way people lived is an important backdrop to all that is being discussed in the film.

With the technology we have today, it is incredible to see some of the things that could be accomplished so early in cinema’s history. This movie includes some great clips that help show this. In addition, the DVD includes over 80 minutes of short films for those who would like to see more.

For anyone with a true interest in art and early cinema, I believe this film is an educated look at the connection between the two. For everyone else, I would suggest skipping it.



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