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A Night at the Louvre: Leonardo da Vinci - Documentary Review

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Published October 21st 2020
Simply the best

"In the small hours of the morning, when most of Paris lapses into sleep, the Louvre Museum generally sleeps, too… But at 2 a.m. … the Louvre teemed with crowds. The (Leonardo) exhibition, which opened on Oct. 24 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master's death, drew nearly 1.1 million visitors, smashing the attendance record set by the 2018 Delacroix show that had 540,000 visitors….Two weeks before the show was scheduled to close, the museum announced that it would be releasing a total of 30,000 free tickets online two days later. The tickets, snapped up in a few hours, granted access at a particular time between 9 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. on the final Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Audio guides were provided free of charge. Even the refreshments were free." ('It's 2 a.m. at the Louvre, and You're Hanging With Leonardo' - New York Times Feb. 25, 2020)

For those of us precluded by COVID or budget from visiting the exhibition in person and who remember trying to get close to the Mona Lisa through a milling mass of people, Pathé Films has given us a wonderful alternative – a leisurely private tour with no-one else around. Bliss.

The camera is free to wander through deserted long corridors and galleries while two curators guide us through the multi-faceted world view of da Vinci and help us to appreciate the development of his technique, as he explored movement and stillness, light and shadow, fascinated by how to depict fabrics and faces.

The expert guides take us through the stages of Leonardo's development. Initially, he experimented with how to represent light and shadow, and the volume and flow of fabric. He was also fascinated by how to represent movement and stillness. Over time, he found the paradoxical truth that suggestion was more powerful than accurate representation and that completely accurate representation can make a painting wooden and lifeless. His paintings began to hint rather than delineate, but also dared to give realistic features to saintly subjects like Mary and Jesus, and added character by viewing them from the side rather than straight on.

This is particularly evident in "The Last Supper" and the Mona Lisa, who was 24 at the time of the painting. Lisa del Giocondo gazes at us with just the hint of a smile - which has tantalised centuries of watchers.

The movie is engaging from start to finish, and the two experts help us to follow de Vinci's development as an artist, using modern technology to show us how de Vinci modifies his original sketches to arrive at what we see.

It focuses on Da Vinci the artist - leaving the other facets of this talented man (such as engineer and mathematician) to another time.

A team of 30 technicians worked for nearly a week overnight when the Louvre was closed, and those of us who these days can no longer travel, and remember trying to see the Mona Lisa through crowds of people (up to 30,000 a day the documentary tells us) are grateful for leisurely close examination of the works of a master, helped by unobtrusive knowledgeable commentary. Just wonderful.

I saw A Night at the Louvre: Leonardo da Vinci at Dendy Coopooroo.

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Why? A unique opportunity: unforgettable
Your Comment
OOH I am going to see this.
by May Cross (score: 3|8394) 957 days ago
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