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Joan Miró— Constellations: The Color of Poetry (1994)

"I want to murder painting."
- Joan Miró

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: October 21, 2004

Stars: Joan Miró
Director: Didier K. Baussy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:50m:18s
Release Date: May 25, 2004
UPC: 033909200691
Genre: art

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Silly me, with my old-fashioned ideas that a documentary about an artist's life should do petty little things like lay out the facts. Why would you want to do something like that (where the artist was born and raised, went to school, aesthetic influences and crucial biographical events) when you can just go into a great museum and have someone run around in a funny mask and a toga?

My pal Didier K. Baussy is back—just as he did for Don Diego de Velasquez, here he runs roughshod through the life and work of Joan Miró, mid-twentieth century Catalonian master. He must be a very convincing fellow, for he has once again received extraordinary access, this time to the Miró Museum in Barcelona; the best thing about his documentary are the frequent very tight close-ups of Miró canvases, highlighting details that one simply cannot make out on a postcard or even in a high-end art book. But the director's approach to the artist's oeuvre is arbitrary and baffling. Our on-screen "host" of sorts is an unfortunate actor done up in a costume designed by Miró himself, though for what occasion is never made clear; this poor fellow runs pixie-like through the galleries, looking like a hopeful but talentless performer who didn’t make the first cut at the auditions for Cirque du Soleil, or like a really, really, really bad Muppet.

Occasionally the documentary cuts away, and gives us some information on the artist, especially about his Catalonian background, and the influence of the Spanish Civil War; but the best that the film can muster is superimposing an abstract Miró image over archival footage of marching soldiers. (Only occasional contrasts are made to Miró’s countryman and contemporary, Pablo Picasso.) Miró's canvases have always been difficult to read—they can be visually pleasing and arresting, moody and ecstatic, but frequently a bit baffling and distant. The film doesn't help any, giving us only some coarse symbolic suggestions, reducing Miró's art to a rebus.

You've got to be some unbelievable sort of Miró diehard to want to watch this after a couple of minutes, and if you hang with it, you won’t learn much. The painter's work continues to enchant us, but the filmmaking here doesn't cast any sort of spell. 

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The video resolution is frequently poor, and the framing is usually ghastly, especially of the paintings. Not much here to admire. 

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The filmmakers have found it necessary to layer in lots of industrial noise, which succeeds only in making the narration track frequently inaudible.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Miró picture gallery and timeline
  2. DVD recommendations
Extras Review: Well, it's got a lot of chapter stops! There's a five-panel biography of the artist, more straightforward than anything in the filmmaking, but marred by some typographical errors; the picture gallery features details of the canvasses, set to music, and is arbitrary in much the same way the feature is. A timeline of the artist's life duplicates some of the info in the biography; and the DVD recommendations are for eight jazz titles from the same distributor.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

A sloppy, arbitrary, uninformative look at the artist's work, with an insane pixie guide and shoddy technical values.


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