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Very interesting, but not what I'd hoped for
on September 1, 2005
This is an interesting and informative film about the history of the Louvre; but it's much more an ode to the building itself than to the treasures contained within.
This award-winning film was made by American Lucy Jarvis and represents the first time anyone was ever allowed to film inside the Louvre. Charles Boyer narrates in English, and tells an engaging story of the Louvre's journey from Fortress to Palace to Museum--and its unique place in the history and heart of Paris. The building changed physically at the hand of each of its regal denizens, and the art collection was purchased, gifted, stolen and scavenged throughout the course of centuries. The narration is illustrated with portraits of key historical figures, as well as drawings, paintings and prints of historical events surrounding the Louvre through the ages. Some of the nicest film footage is of the deserted galleries at night, captured when the crew got locked in the Museum one evening.
Because this DVD was released in August 2005, I assumed it was a brand new program. In fact, THE LOUVRE was filmed in 1977, and, unfortunately, shows its age. I've been spoiled by the sharp, clean, bright, digital quality which makes fine art DVDs such a pleasure to view. Even older titles seem to have been "cleaned up" for their digital debuts in order to take full advantage of the new medium. Sadly, no such restoration appears to have taken place with this title (at least to my untrained eye). The interior scenes have a yellowish cast to them that distorts the colors of the paintings, and infuses THE LOUVRE with a fuzzy, dated feel. In addition, much of the footage is slightly "jumpy," which I found very distracting. One good thing about the film's age is that we get to see some works by Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh and others which were moved from the Louvre long ago and are now housed in the Musee d'Orsay.
The DVD "extras" aren't even worth mentioning.
I don't want to come across as too terribly negative. This is still a "must have" for serious art geeks like myself--I just want people to understand what this DVD is, and what it is not. It IS a lovingly-made account of the fascinating history of one of Paris' oldest and most famous buildings; it is NOT a retrospective of the vast art collection housed within its walls. Yes, many paintings and sculptures do appear throughout the film, but they do not often appear to their best advantage. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned about the Louvre's rich history, but disappointed by the secondary role assigned to art history and appreciation.