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Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film

19 customer reviews

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(Nov 21, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"He was the most American of artists and the most artistic of Americans," one man later said – "so American in fact that he is almost invisible to us." ANDY WARHOL – a riveting and often deeply moving film portrait of the most famous and famously controversial artist of the second half of the twentieth century – is the first to explore the complete spectrum of Warhol's astonishing artistic output, stretching across five decades from the late 1940's to his untimely death in 1987. Combining powerful on-camera interviews and rare still and motion picture footage, it is also the first to put Warhol himself – his humble family background and formative experiences in Pittsburgh, and his crucial apprenticeship as a commercial artist in New York – back into the presentation of his life.

Ric Burns' Andy Warhol is a four-hour pop-culture extravaganza that will retool what you think you know about the famed and oft-parodied soup-can painter. Delving deep into Andy's impoverished upbringing in Pittsburgh, the greatest success of Burns' film is its ability to delve deep behind the façade of Andy Warhol, Pop Celebrity. Featuring interviews with an array of confidants from art dealers to artists (but, alas, no Lou Reed), Burns' film portrays an extremely insecure man who lived with his mother through much of the Factory years and constantly seeked a measure of fame akin to the Hollywood starlets whose photographs he tore out of the pages of Depression-era movie mags. Andy Warhol succeeded in achieving that fame, and along the way redefined how we think of art and culture. This film may very well redefine what you think of the man. -- Kristian St. Clair

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Laurie Anderson, Irving Blum, Salvador Dalí, Candy Darling, Donna De Salvo
  • Directors: Ric Burns
  • Writers: Ric Burns, James Sanders
  • Producers: Alexis Zoullas, Daniel Wolf, Diane von Fürstenberg, Donald Rosenfeld, Heather Parks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,905 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Quickhappy on October 10, 2006
This is the best portrait of an artist I've ever seen. I was completely entralled by the film. Because Warhol was both tremendously inventive and horribly cruel, I alternately felt a sense of awe and disgust. Warhol's genius and callousness are both fleshed out. Despite the turbulent content of the film, I was simply exhilerated throughout.

Having watched this excellent film, I feel a greatly enriched appreciation for Warhol's art---a sense of what it said, how it worked, and how it became a cliche. (I was particularly ill-informed about Warhol's films, which were discussed in great detail.)

The Factory--where Warhol worked (but seldom played) and where transvestites, drifters, and creative spirits intermingled--is featured in healthy portions. This locale comes across as one of those rare places in history where the geist of a era is spatially concentrated. Here, in this one extraordinary place of production, Warhol and others fomented art and a vision of a post-Fordist world. This film is essential viewing (like the Weather Underground or Berkeley in the Sixties) for those who want to ingest and comprehend the paradigm shift of the "1960s."

Warhol's cruel indifference to the self-destruction of those around him is critically revealed. While some in the Factory drank and drugged themselves to death, Warhol passively watches, always remaining cool, detached, and voyeuristic.

The attempted homicide on Warhol, his commercialism, and his later years are all mentioned. I would fault the film for not showing Warhol speak on film more often, for not really considering his cooptation by capitalism, and for skipping over his influence in art and in popular society.

I must admit though, that the film is brilliantly executed, and well worth your time and nickel.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By P1 on December 2, 2006
I just received this in the mail and finally got to watch it. It is a very engaging and in-depth presentation of his life from early childhood to the late 60s. In fact it's the most in-depth documentary in the respects of his early life, pre-pop success, that I've seen. There are lots of great images and archival footage that otherwise you may not have a chance to see, but...

This documentary seems to focus mostly on the silver factory years, which lasted only from the early 60s to 1968, yet takes up most of the 4 hours of this film. Granted, those were arguably some of the most influential and important years of his career, but I wish this film contained more on his later life. The last 2 decades of his career, the 70s and 80s, took up only the last 20 minutes (credits included) of the whole 4 hours, which is only a brief summary. This is the only reason I decked one star off my rating, as the 70s and 80s are my personal favorite times in his career. There's always The Andy Warhol Diaries for that area though, which I would also recommend.

So, overall, I would recommend this to anyone interested in Andy, and to those who are already fans. Even though it's lacking in it's coverage of his later career, it excels in every other aspect, and I'm glad I got to see it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Martin Landau (not the actor) on May 28, 2013
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I had the good fortune to meet Andy Warhol three separate times in the early and mid 1980's. Once at Studio 54, once at Leo Castelli Gallery and once at Gagosian Gallery when he showed the large "piss paintings" shortly before his unexpected and tragic death. I own three separate Warhol documentaries and somewhere around a dozen Warhol books. I would consider myself a Warhol aficionado. I have viewed this Warhol documentary at least fifty times. Each and every viewing brings newness; certain lines, images and footage lift off the television screen and demand my attention. It is rich in detail and completeness. And is wholly accurate, which could be it's greatest feature. Now consider that such a high level of accuracy and wholeness goes on for four hours. For Warhol fans, nothing could be better.

The doc starts at his earliest moments and recounts most of the hardship he endured in his poor Pittsburgh-Slavic upbringing. From the early death of his father to the child illness that left him forever pale-skinned with patchy color, Laurie Anderson narrates objectively and evenly as if she were the perfect voice-over to Andy's life. Most of the footage is real, in other words not stock footage inserted to 'illustrate' the script. Equally important, it fits accurately and sequentially in its chronology to the script. I was amazed at the sheer volume of Warhol footage, both moving and still imagery.

Interviews with critics, collectors, artists and dealers enrich the narration. This includes dated and periodic commentary captured during the 60's and 70's and also later interviews that appear to have been filmed specifically for this doc (I haven't seen, for example, the interview with Irving Blum anywhere else).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By thames on July 26, 2009
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Highly recommended. For awhile I had been thinking this is one of Ken Burn's best. But it's by brother Ric. So one of Ric Burn's best. One of the best documentaries by anybody period. This is the definitive Andy Warhol documentary. I've seen others and they hardly compare. You needn't be a huge fan of pop-art (I'm not) to find this story fascinating. Intelligent explorations of what goes into the creation of creative people does make for such a rewarding experience. Family life, economic background, personal difficulties and experiences, cultural surroundings, those chance meetings and various contingencies, personal influences --these are all dealt with in sufficient detail during the four hours allotted to them. A comprehensive in-depth portrait of Andy Warhol is a portrait of (for better or worse...) us and American society of the last half century. This is what we learn. Warhol is perhaps more relevant than ever and that's also why this is an important documentary. Loads of incredible (sometimes rare) footage intelligently utilized, excellent narration, and music that had an effect of ushering me into a contemplative mood and drawing me further into the images come together to demonstrate that documentary films can be considered a work of art in their own rite. Well I'm gushing now, but I was impressed. However, the case is made that Warhol is the most important artist during the second half of the 20th Century. Now I simply don't buy that, but if not Warhol then who?
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