The house where artist Rene Magritte lived and worked was left untouched by his widow after his death in 1967, and it tells much about the man who found inspiration in everyday surroundings. Childhood experiences and the suicide of Magritte's mother are recalled by the artist himself in archive footage and he explains how this tragic event later inspired themes in his paintings. The film focuses on the recurring influences of certain objects and places in Magritte's art, his experimentation with futurism and his attraction to the work of de Chirico before discovering his own unique surrealist style.
Magritte puts the "real" in surreal by enabling the viewer to see the world as the Belgian artist painted it. The filmmakers combine footage of places the artist lived (and was inspired by) with a black-and-white archival interview with Magritte and scenes from home-movie "films" the artist made for his own enjoyment. The production strikes a nice balance between well-chosen biographical details and silence, at which time the dreamlike art is definitely allowed to speak for itself to the accompaniment of a fine soundtrack. "I want to breathe new light into ordinary things around us," Magritte says. While showing how the artist's life influenced his work, the makers of Magritte shed new light on the extraordinary. --Valerie J. Nelson