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HBO presents
Naked World (2003)

"It's not pornography. It's not nude. It's forming a shape with living bodies, and I'm being put in jail for this."
- Spencer Tunick

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 21, 2006

Stars: Spencer Tunick
Director: Arlene Donnelly Nelson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity)
Run Time: 01h:16m:32s
Release Date: February 21, 2006
UPC: 026359266423
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+B-C+ C+

DVD Review

The 2003 HBO documentary, Naked World, follows artist Spencer Tunick on his quest across the continents, shooting photos of naked people in front of or around some of the world's most well-known landmarks. The film opens with an event covered in Tunick and filmmaker Arlene Donelly Nelson's 2000 project, Naked States: on the streets of New York City, where Tunick sets up a shoot with over 100 willing participants, but is arrested by the police at the first signs of nudity. This leads him to take his tour of naked beauty on the road, via planes, and even ships, in the hopes that authorities elsewhere might be more lenient about his subject matter.

His first stop is Montreal, a place where such public nudity is accepted (to an extent). The government allows Tunick to stage a large shoot in the city, which many people flock to. He then travels to Paris, where people are hesitant to participate. Tunick eventually convinces a few, despite the heartache of some very rude reaction to his proposals. He even manages to get one man to pose nude in front of the Louvre, but has to hurry the shoot as a police dog approaches.

Police intervention is actually kept to a minimum from this point forward in the film, which is probably a good thing for Tunick's image. If Naked World had been full of encounters with law enforcement, audiences might react in the wrong way, seeing this artist as a publicity hound. Instead, he comes across as a true artist; a man who is extremely passionate about what his work, and those who agree to make his projects possible.

Other stops along the way include the very conservative Galway in Ireland, the gorgeous architecture of St. Petersburg, and the many wonders of Melbourne, Australia. He meet a wonderful trio of women who are willing to bare it all in Japan, and a handful of photo opportunities in Cape Town, South Africa. The journey becomes slightly treacherous on a ship to Antarctica, but it ends on a positive note with a successful group shoot in Brazil.

To Naked World director Arlene Donnell Nelson's credit, Tunick's models and resulting photographs come across as truly stunning. Her choice to focus mostly on Tunick's work instead of the controversy surrounding his art is a wise one. Nelson doesn't completely shy away from the controversy, but its coverage is kept to a minimum, and the beauty of what Tunick does takes centerstage. Without Naked World, Spencer Tunick's work has little chance of being seen outside of art galleries, making this an important film for a relatively obscure artist.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The location footage looks quite nice, considering it was not shot on high-definition source material. Inherent grain and dirt is never a huge bother, with the images remaining as sharp and detailed as possible. The outdoor, daytime sequences are appropriately bright, and the gloom of rainy Russia is very realistic, thanks to true grays and blacks.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is nothing flashy, but it does its job nicely. The surrounds are used sparingly, but they do accommodate the music well. This music and the dialogue blend well into the overall mix, with Tunick's speech remaining crisp and clear throughout the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director/producer Arlene Donnelly Nelson and artist Spencer Tunick.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. New York Installation Video
  2. Gallery of Artwork
Extras Review: The main extra feature is an audio commentary track with director/producer Arlene Donnelly Nelson and Spencer Tunick. This is a very informative track, during which Tunick delves deeper into his own art, explaining in great detail what went into the shoots that we see in the film. You get a good feel for how well this pair worked together, but Tunick does most of the talking.

There's also a New York Installation Video, which is a seven-minute look at Tunick shooting a piece in Grand Central Station in New York City. A Gallery of Artwork, which is a collection of Tunick's work, is also available.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Naked World gives us a candid look at the beauty of the human body as it chronicles Spencer Tunick's art. HBO's DVD release presents the film quite nicely, including a few extra features that serve as nice complements to the feature.


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