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Image Entertainment presents

Picasso (1985)

"At fourteen I drew like Raphaël. I never drew like a child."- Pablo Ruiz y Picasso

Stars: The art of Picasso
Director: Didier Baussy-Oulianoff

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (actual footage of corrida violence)
Run Time: 01h:21m:00s
Release Date: 2001-04-10
Genre: art

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


DVD Review

Picasso IS 20th century art, and his may well be the most powerful patronage through this next century. Although influenced by many, he was his own man; studying the masters, breaking every rule, including those he himself invented. With a single canvas, he ended 600 years of the artist's bondage to perspective. From his earliest work, powerfully derived from Gauguin and van Gogh, through his Blue and Cubist Periods (inspired by Cézanne), his Neo-Classical work—my personal favorite—all the way to the edge of nonrepresentational abstract (a line he would only just cross) and back, Picasso remained Picasso.

His friend, Jean Cocteau once said, "One must be a living man and a posthumous artist." His passion to be both in life wreaked havoc that is legendary in his relationships but made manifest in his art. Picasso would say, "To paint is to destroy," and that he did—his own temporal life as well as that of those around him.

There may be just as many works created about Picasso as there are works by this most prolific artist. I have read many of them, especially those that include the artist's own words. I have viewed all the documentaries that have come along, and likely seen thousands of his works on exhibition around the world. I admit, when it comes to this artist it is difficult to please me. But this award-winning documentary by Baussy-Oulianoff is a brief yet stunningly comprehensive retrospective of the major periods in the life and work of Pablo Picasso. Most of the drawings, paintings, objêts and sculpture used here to illustrate his genius are from his own personal collection; works he kept close during his almost 80-year career. The paintings highlighted are presented as they should be in all such films, staying long on the wide shots and lingering over detailed close-ups in a way that we can see and learn from. The writing vacillates from nicely stylized to overly dramatic, taking the bull as a metaphor for the man a bit too far: Interspersed throughout the first two-thirds of the film are extremely gruesome scenes from the bullring, footage used too literally for my tastes; an unnecessary excursion, as if his work cannot tell its own story.

Picasso is an excellent documentary that holds broad information for the casual viewer while distinguished enough in its presentation to fascinate those more familiar with the man and his vast and inspiring career.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: This is probably the highest quality transfer—and source—in the series thus far. I feel comfortably familiar with enough of the work represented to say the colors are vividly close to life, with careful attention given the lighting conditions—this is Picasso, after all. The vintage footage went into the source unrestored and remains that way. The rare, minor particle appears on occasion, but the image is in otherwise good condition.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The DD stereo is more effective than one might imagine on a disc of this genre. To counterbalance the deep-voiced narrator (Bob Peck), there is a surprising use of ambient sound, as well as mood-appropriate music that adds enormous depth and interest, all translated very well here.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

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

Extras Review: No extra features have been included with this series thus far. Deviating from their usual, single-image static menu design, each of the 10 chapter-stops (the last of which contains the closing credits) brings up its own representative image detail. For once, it is nice to have a visual clue to link to the chapter names! Thank you Image; every little bit seems a wild delight.

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

His life is the stuff of myths, myths the stuff of his artistic passion. Picasso outlived most of his contemporaries in every way and left the human race an inspiring legacy. This disc, with its 81-minute summary, takes on its monumental challenge and succeeds. But—cut the bull next time. Please.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life," Picasso said. Buy this disc.

debi lee mandel 2001-04-29