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Image Entertainment presents
Cézanne: Three Colours Cézanne (1996)

"Cézanne was able to suggest to those who were willing to hear that from now on you can do anything you like in painting. He freed up the possibility of re-inventing the figure itself."
- R. B. Kitaj, artist

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: R. B. Kitaj, Aline Cézanne, Phillipe Cézanne
Other Stars: various critics and historians
Director: Janice Southerland

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:56m:00s
Release Date: January 23, 2001
UPC: 014381926521
Genre: art

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B A-B+B+ D

DVD Review

I have a fairly controversial perspective on the man called "the father of modern art." The very first memory I have of his work is a painting in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. To this day, I don't care what it is called; to me it remains, "Still Life with Twinkies." I say he couldn't draw and, barring a period after he worked with Pissaro, had no color sense to speak of. Blasphemy, in some circles, I know. But somewhere in the middle of his lifelong exploration, he discovered geometric patterns in nature, a technique that would, in the right hands, eventually be used to pure genius by others to come.

Cézanne: Three Colours Cézanne (a title I take literally), is a grateful and compassionate homage to Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), an excellent documentary that takes us through the life of this beleaguered, misunderstood artist. Constructed in the common documentary style, there are interviews with the usual cast - surviving grand- and great-grandchildren, artists, art historians and curators, etc. - interspersed with well-lit images of his work, overlaid by narration.

The man is painted in shadowy details, as supposedly not much is known about his reclusive life. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he preferred the timbre of life in Aix-en-Provence and spent most of his life there, far from the din of Parisian culture. He hated to be touched, feared people (especially women) and was not accepted until very late in life: too late, for him. He shunned his followers and died, with the belief of failure, alone.

I may see him as a technician, but most attribute everything that has happened in art since, to Cézanne and his flattening of the picture plane. While he chased past masters, his legacy was to inspire the greatest generation of painters in the 20th century and he has earned his place at last.

In fairness to those who revere him, I offer the quote at the top of this review. But I much prefer this query:

"What were these deformed, rather homely, even ugly, even horrific figures meant to be? What was he thinking?"
- R. B. Kitaj, artist

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Unlike others in this series of South Bank/RM Arts programs from Image, this documentary contains no vintage footage so is clean and fairly even. The artwork is well represented with natural color and contrast. Any subtitles used clearly readable over changing backgrounds, but are burned in.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital Stereo is even and clear overall. There is nothing in this documentary that would warrant anything more.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extra features are included with this series. The simple static menu has 10 chapter-stops (the last of which contains the closing credits), which are also listed inside the Snapper case. A separate gallery or access menu for the featured paintings, would be a delight. (Is anyone listening yet?)

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Consciously or not, Paul Cézanne changed the face of art forever. Image brings us the life and work of this most influential artist as part of their continuing series, and I salute them. An excellent disc... recommended.


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