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Image Entertainment presents
Les Silences de Manet (1989)

"The spectator is an intruder; he will find nothing in the painting to excuse his voyeurism."
- narrator

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: September 20, 2001

Stars: ...douard Manet, (through his work)
Director: Didier Baussy-Oulianoff

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:54m:56s
Release Date: August 07, 2001
UPC: 014381929324
Genre: art

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- BB-B+ D+

DVD Review

Paul C╚zanne is known as the "father of modern art." ...douard Manet is considered its founder. It seems historians cannot agree on whatˇor whoˇdefines the moment that catapulted us into the future of art. A few weeks ago, it was the Impressionists, according to their documentarians. But it was Manet who bridged the gap between the old and the new, what was and what would be. With the brush of the Academians and the heart of a rebel, this courageous artist ground the sensibilities of the 19th century to a halt: "Manet arrested time."

Manet painted subject matter considered vulgar by polite society in his era. By vulgar, these Parisians meant boorish and common. Until this time, while techniques and levels of realism varied, creative depictions were basically limited to historical and classic themes. As this film illustrates, while works like Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Aras may have pleased its audience visually, its archaic reference was already slipping from the minds of a public more fascinated with steam engines and other obj═ts modernes. And as languid and lovely as Ingres' odalisques may be, they were thinly disguised models in search of an excuse to be nude. Courbet pulled off the veil, but still entitled his work, The Painter's Studio: A Real Allegory, following admissible conventions.

But in his notorious Le D╚jeuner sur l'herbe, Manet gave us a modern woman, unabashedly naked, enjoying a country outing. She commands our attention, yet her companions don't seem to care, or even notice. Why is she naked? It's as easy to ask, Why not? Manet seems to have believed that all women could be glorified, not just classical figures; many works to come appear to support this. He went on to create scandal after scandal, including an exploration of Impressionism for a time, and the result is an admirable body of work we view as treasures today.

"Before the invention of cinematography he invents the freeze frame. And that makes any sentimental narrative of the scene impossible."

This is what Didier Baussy-Oulianoff translates as The Silences of Manet. But instead of celebrating the artist, he gives his documentary the dark and brooding atmosphere of a dirge. It is nearly offensive. While Manet, compared to his younger friendsˇthe "painters of light"ˇwas considerably heavy-handed, and unlike them, found much use for the bone black on his palette, this filmmaker seems to impose his own torments on his unwitting subject. But then, Baussy is the same man who indulged what seems like his own need of corrida violence in his Picasso. He also lingers overlong on several academic paintings by other artists; Manet's work deserves a broader presentation that is apparently beyond the capabilities of this grim and somber filmmaker.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: A quality transfer from what appears to be an imperfect source is certainly disappointing. The image has high grain and is very noisy, especially in dark areas, which are emphasized in this film. It has all the nasty intrusions: dirt, scratches, speckling and dust. This said, the images are still clearly presented, if a little dark.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround is effective, but is very centered with a bit of the ambient music delegated to the left and right. Overly moody music and the dead serious tone of the narrator (Baussy himself) outweigh moments when the tone cheers upˇa bit.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Following the trend with this series, there are no extra features included. The 16 chapter stops suffice.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

...douard Manet was a visionary talent whose perseverance and accomplishments helped to bring art into the 20th century; his work is rightfully among the masterpieces of our time. Les Silences de Manet does not. The filmmaker who chose this painter as a subject does not seem to know where one man begins and the other ends. A shame.


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