A flawed documentary that is saved by the fact the city of Florence and its relationship to the Renaissance is endlessly fascinating in itself.
Movie Grade: C-
DVD Grade: C-
Florence is regarded as the focal point, the site where the revolutionary ideas of the Renaissance with its enthusiasm for the art of Antiquity were developed. The city on the Arno was at this time one of Europe's foremost trading centers. Here the currents of culture and politics converged. In Florence, liberal and open-minded as it was, there emerged a broad class of industrious citizens who had made their fortunes in trade. Suddenly they were able to afford education - a privilege hitherto the preserve of a few aristocrats and priests. They studied and absorbed the thoughts of the writers of Ancient Rome and Greece, and developed them further, thus creating the foundations for a completely new attitude toward human existence. Western Civilization's present-day understanding is based on this school of thought, in which Florence played a decisive role.
The difficulty is determining what exactly this documentary satisfies. Not particularly chock-filled with facts about Florence, the movie doesn’t really give much information. Not covering a broad swatch of Florence, the movie is not a particularly compelling travelogue. Although not an unpleasant way to spend an hour or so, I can really recommend this presentation to anyone. I enjoyed some of the lingering camera work, which allowed me to examine some of the art and architecture in an extended way but I was frustrated when the camera lingered for a long time on extraneous things like the people looking at the art and architecture.
That is not to say the documentary was a total loss. I did find out a few facts that I did not know and there were connections made between the historical Florence and the modern city. Italian history can be quite confusing and, while there is no need to delve into the complexities of it, the touch with dates and events was not unappreciated. There were a few amusing anecdotes provided both about the Renaissance era of Florence and the modern city that we know today. I found the juxtaposition of the faces of modern Florentines, especially young people with the faces in the Renaissance art to be quite intriguing. There were hints of what this documentary could have been. It was obvious that the intent was not to create just another conventional tale of Florence. There seemed to an attempt to evoke a flavor of this old city, however overall the attempt was flawed.