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Degas and the Dance: The Man Behind the Easel

5 customer reviews

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(Apr 06, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Actor Frank Langella narrates this fascinating look at the life and art of French painter Edgar Degas, focusing specifically on his impressionistic portraits of dancers.

Special Features

  • Audio tour with curators' commentary and magnification of nine of Degas's artworks
  • 83-year timeline of Degas's life
  • Six additional segments including a rare glimpse into the Roche Pastel Shop
  • The Paris Opera maquettes not seen in the film
  • Archival images of the dancers in costume that Degas painted
  • Demonstrations of 19th-century ballet poses by Paris Opera dancers in comparison to contemporary dance techniques

Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Bedford, Frank Langella, Peter Badger
  • Directors: Mischa Scorer
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Enhanced, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Koch Lorber / Thirteen WNET
  • DVD Release Date: April 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 66 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001BMLUU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,595 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Rudy Avila on January 24, 2004
Format: DVD
This DVD, also in VHS format, was first released in the BBC, British television. It made its way to KCET PBS station, in Great Performances segment, here in the U.S. It's a biography on the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas and the world of the Paris Opera Ballet of his day. The ballet was Degas' favorite subject for painting, especially because he loved to capture movement and motion on canvas, as well as portray the world more realistically. The Impressionists (l870's) were a group of artists from Paris who introduced a new movement in the art world. The more famous Claude Monet painted gorgeous landscapes and the natural world while Degas concentrated on interior scenes with sheer realism. Degas was influenced by Edouard Manet and Gustav Courbet, both who were regarded as Naturalist and Realists. Degas frequented the Opera where he watched ballerinas perform in spectacle-ballets. This "documentary" type of biography dramatizes Degas in his old age, as he works on his ballerina paintings and the scultupre "Little Dance Age 14 years". The scenes of Montmartre, Degas' studio, ballets on stage and shots of the Paris Opera's gilded interior is beautiful to watch. We are transported to Degas'19th century Paris. The research is accurate. It's well done and informative. Any fan of art, of Degas himself and of ballet's history will find this DVD very resourceful.
Edgar Hilaire Degas was dedicated for the most part of painting ballerinas in their true environment- performing on stage where they are illuminated with so much bright artificial light that they appear pale and clown-like, or straining their bodies in rehearsals. They are tired, bored and lonely, but it's obvious by the austere faces of the dance instructor that these girls are going to be pushed to do their best.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jenifer L. Woods on October 15, 2004
Format: DVD
This is a lovely documentary/film made in conjunction with the 2002-3 exhibit "Degas and the Dance," the curators of which are featured commentators: one is an art historian, the other a former dancer and ballet instructor who specializes in late 19th Century French dance. Together, they paint a vivid and informative picture of Degas' life-long relationship with the Paris Opera.

This is not a biography of Degas; it is an exploration--through his art--of his fascination with dancers and his obsession with perfection. The program features many of his well- and lesser-known paintings and pastels, with enough intelligent discussion and close-ups to keep most viewers happy. It goes further, though, to show (through re-enactments) Degas' working methods and his restless experimentation with alternative mediums and techniques. We see him meticulously pose models in his Montmarte studio, then use the sketches of individual dancers to compose complex classroom and backstage scenes--often over and over again. We're treated to a demonstration of Monotype printing, and examples of how he sometimes used these as underpaintings for pastels. We get a peek at lovely fan-shaped paintings, a glimpse of an etching, and a very cool side-by-side look at actual photographic negatives and the corresponding finished works of art. We watch Degas creating the wax model for his "Little Dancer" bronze, and learn why his subsequent sculptural efforts were for his personal use only. This film does a reasonably good job of showing both the breadth of Degas' dance works (oils, pastels, prints, sculpture, etc.) and their chronological progression from realistic to abstract.

"In art, one is never entitled to disregard what is true.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By humdec on January 14, 2007
Format: DVD
My daughter is 11, and has been with a local ballet company for 5 years now. Her room is decorated with some plates and other items depicting Degas work. She had seen many items in ballet catalogs decorated with Degas paintings, posters, etc. but never thought of the artist himself much. This film was a great introduction. One of her favorite musicals is Webber's Phantom of the Opera and seeing the actual Opera House in this film, inside and out was just great. The reenactments and the rehearsal shots are very well fit into the story. The entire film is crisp, very clear, great sound and magnificent views of Montmartre. The wide screen format is a plus if you have this type of TV. I am giving this DVD 5 stars although the extra features could have been longer.
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Format: DVD
The focus of this product is the art produced by Degas that involved dance.
In addition to many sketches and paintings we also see some sculptures. We
also see inside the Palais Garnier. This is well narrated by Frank Langella. I
found the extras interesting. One extra illustrated how a dance position
(arabesque) had changed from the 19th to the 20th century. I recommend
this dvd to admirers of Degas and those with an interest in visual art from
this era. Those with a mild interest in ballet may also find this interesting.
Mostly in English. English subtitles for the brief dialogue in French.
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By Larry L. Hill on December 20, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in 19th century painting and Degas in particular will love this video story about how he used dancers to enliven and enrich his paintings. Using stills and reinactments, the director shows us, dramatically, how Degas aesthetically enobled the entire backstage world of dance not just the lithe bodies of young women.
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