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  • Paris: The Luminous Years - Toward the Making of the Modern
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Paris: The Luminous Years - Toward the Making of the Modern

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Product Details

  • Directors: Perry Miller Adato
  • Writers: Perry Miller Adato
  • Producers: Perry Miller Adato
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2010
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003WKQ46E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,406 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A storm of Modernism swept through the art worlds of the West in the early decades of the twentieth century uprooting centuries of tradition in the visual arts music literature dance theater and beyond. The epicenter of this storm was Paris France. For an incandescent moment from 1905 to 1930 Paris was the magnetic center for radical innovation and experiment the Mecca for creative talents from Michigan to Moscow from Brooklyn to Barcelona who would change the course of art throughout the Western world. On-camera dramatic and historic moments are recalled by participants in these legendary events e.g. Marc Chagall Igor Stravinsky Jean Cocteau Aaron Copland Marcel Duchamp Sylvia Beach and Janet Flanner. Why Paris? "Paris - The Luminous Years" tells the epic story of Paris from an unprecedented point of view not as the familiar glamorous backdrop for the revolutions that exploded there but as active protagonist catalyst and midwife to modernity. The film spotlights now-famous key figures in the art world's first international avant-garde tracing who came to Paris and why whom they met what they made there and how being in Paris transformed them and their work.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 51 customer reviews
The production values and quality are most impressive...well done!
Amazon Customer
I enjoy watching a lot of documentaries on PBS, but it is rare that I like one well enough to want to own it.
Gary W. Hines
Just an awesome documentary of the development of art in Paris in the early 20th century.
Alexis Pajares

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 77 people found the following review helpful By S. Gwynne on December 16, 2010
Paris: the Luminous Years is a beautiful way to learn about the art movements of the early 20th century. Interviews of surviving artists and writers, historians and biographers, in both English and French, added to my understanding of the time and place in which some of my favorite artists & writers lived. Conversations with Sylvia Beach are interspersed throughout, adding her opinions and memories to the mix; Miss Beach, her bookshop, Shakespeare and Co. and the city of Paris are characters in this story. Ernest Hemingway, Aaron Copeland, Picasso, and many more are quoted throughout. Their friendships, the art, politics, theatre, music, economics and, of course, the Paris of the early 20th century are thoroughly discussed from many viewpoints. I would enjoy even more period footage and conversation around this important era.
Paris: Luminous Years is lovely to watch and listen to. I am purchasing the DVD to enjoy at my leisure when I need creative encouragement or a tour of Paris during those important and "luminous years".
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on December 20, 2010
Where is the artist capital of the world today where artists and free-spirits like Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Beach, Janet Flanner, and others fled the oppression of American society in post-World War I America? There is perhaps no better time to be an American in Paris than between 1905 and 1930. I saw this on late last night on PBS and I can't believe that I can purchase the DVD so quickly.

The two hour documentary has fused a combination of old Parisian footage and contemporary scenes today. As somebody who came late to understanding how Paris influenced artists, this documentary doesn't speak down to those who are not educated, enlightened, or unaware of the city's history. On the contrary, the people in this documentary speak to you as an audience. Maybe that's the difference.

Oh yes, not everything was perfect between 1905 and 1930 in Paris, France. There was the First World War and the aftermath of the gay 1920s when Parisians and the expatriates felt good to be alive. This documentary shows life before, during, and after the war. They are unaware of what's to come in 1939. Anyway, I felt that one person was missing from this DVD and that was the amazon herself, Natalie Clifford Barney, who was an American socialite and expatriate who also offered salons on par with Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas.

I love watching Janet Flanner in anything and she was the voice of Paris for 50 years for the New Yorker. It was my interest in Janet "Genet" Flanner's writings that led me to her Paris during the renaissance period where art, culture, literature, and politics was not only discussed but argued with passion and fervor during this great time period.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Brandon A. Nordin on December 19, 2010
Caught the tail end of this on PBS this weekend (another hats-off to this much maligned in modern times network): a lovely and plangent period piece. Amazing to think that with scars fresh from the horrors of the Somme and Verdun, that a society could regenerate it's elan and love of culture with such profound and lasting effect. Interesting to see too the impact of Americans just learning to come to grips with the world abroad. Indeed, this is the Paris that most current tourists - and throngs of US students abroad - long to see - alas only the echos remain.

No doubt this a nostaligic, soft focus piece - it largely ignores the vast rifts in French society, the trauma of shattered families and infrastructure left behind by the Great War, and the brooding political events that were to keep winding the spring that set the clock for WWII.

Would definitely recommend this for anyone studying 20th C literature and culture. Some fantastic filmed interviews (probably from the 50's). Also too, to anyone interested in the broad impact that African American art and music has had on world culture.

PS: This is very approachable, not snooty or high culture at all - a perfect trigger for further exploration, whether it is on the streets of Montparnasse, the pages of Hemingway, Joyce or Stein, the an iTunes download of Satie, or a Sunday stroll to your local art museum. Formidable et tres charmant!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 29, 2010
The cultural revolution that shook Paris 1905 to 1930 is well chronicled in this mesmerizing two-hour DVD documentary, which includes photographs, film archives, literary excerpts, and analyses. The focus in on the arts, from classical music and jazz to sculpture, from poetry to dance, from painted canvases to novels. The rise of Modernism from the post-Impressionists to Fauvism, to Cubism, to Dada and to Surrealism and their numerous beaux-arts and literary pioneers is seen as an extraordinary period of free experimentation and cross-disciplinary interactions, particularly between poets and artists. Paris was the fermenting pot and the avant-garde was strong, sharp, and manifold. Watching this documentary can induce envy. O to have lived in such a time! Of course, I and many of my generation did indeed experience such a revolution, albeit of shorter duration in this accelerating society, when the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1965 to 1980 was the hub in musical, artistic, noetic, ecological and other scientific innovations and explorations. Which brings up a minor deficiency in the documentary: the absence of any mention of the developments in science, especially physics, and its influence on the arts, when concepts of time and space and matter were the subjects of radically new thinking. Otherwise, the survey is a wonderful cultural history, from the optimism of pre-WWI and the engine of cynicism and creative criticism following that carnage. The viewer can next plunge into the many books covering this exciting period for further study. This DVD is an excellent introduction in art history and cultural studies.
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