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The Mystery of Picasso
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A Fabulous film showing how an artist- in this case Picasso- takes a blank sheet of paper or canvas and transforms it into a work of art. Thru a special process that lets the inks bleed thru to the wrong side of the canvas where a camera captures the developement of a drawing from the first placement of a brush stroke to the final completed drawing/painting. Sometimes it is truly amazing to see what comes forth from the humble beginnings. We also are able to follow the developement of paintings as well with the aide of stop motion photography. I wish I were an art teacher so I could share this with my students! An enjoyable film for anyone with an interest in art!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2003
Format: DVD
This film is a real treat, as gives us an insight into the work of Picasso by literally allowing us to see the master at work and how his simple brush strokes incredibly evolve into masterpieces, in some instances even metamorphosing before our eyes from a figurative piece in to a cubist expression of the same. This is a film that I was pleasantly surprised to see my 5-year-old son sit through shearing my amazement as Picasso worked for the camera. It's a definite "must have" for those that like Picasso and who, after viewing this movie, will appreciate his work even more!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2002
Format: DVD
I once saw this film on television, late at night. This was at least ten years ago, and despite having seen it only once, many of the images are still fresh in my mind. Along with Alex Cox's "Vincent", an extraordinary documentary about the life of Vincent Van Gogh, this is probably the best portrait of the work and life of an artist. Worth every penny.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Anyone who cares about Picasso or is even slightly interested must watch this film. Picasso promises the viewer that she will be shown the mystery of Picasso and his art. This promise made by the master himself. He does not disappoint either because he takes us on a ride of a lifetime with one work after the other created before the viewers eyes. He allows himself to get into real trouble and to effectively ruin a work only to pull it out of the ashes and go on. Learning from each so called mistake. In this presentation on seeing, the real mistake is not learning about the patient work that painting requires. Picasso will encourage and inspire us all in a life changing way. A must see! William Havlicek PhD
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a straightforward documentation of Picasso's painting and drawing process. If you are looking for commentary, historical background, etc. look elsewhere. That being said, the film is a unique opportunity to see the master at work. Most interesting are the paintings, which utterly transform before your eyes as he creates and destroys layers upon layers of imagery before being satisfied with the result. It is impossible to see these hidden and discarded images, many of which are dazzling, in a finished Picasso. Some of the works in this film are masterpieces superior to many Picassos that hang in museums today, and they can only be seen here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a fascinating demonstration by Picasso of his creative ability and his working technique. It is amazing to see how he begins a drawing or a painting at an improbable point, e.g. the upper left hand corner of the canvas, with a line which looks quite baffling at first, but which rapidly develops into a complete and intelligible picture. His mastery of drawing is evident at every moment. No erasing. No shaky lines. It is evident that he has a mental impression of the picture before he starts, so that the picture that emerges after that improbable start is correctly placed to fill the canvas. And what a picture it is! We have not one but many drawings created before our eyes. He also demonstrates his ability to change course as he works, as new ideas occur to him, totally transforming the work. In a final scene, he virtually destroys and recreates a beach scene several times as he reveals this amazing talent. It is astonishing to see how unerringly he can encapsulate an entire scene such a a bullfight with a few strokes of his brush. Note how a few simple marks in the background convincingly denote a large crowd. I found this entire performance absolutely captivating.

The filming technique is also masterful, so that the film is an artwork in itself. The film is actually a record of what appears on the reverse side of Picasso's canvas as he works. Picasso uses special inks that penetrate the canvas. The viewer sees the picture developing without the presence of the artist. During several breaks in the film, Picasso appears.

The film was made with a running commentary in French. Two separate and different commentaries in English have been added, so one may choose any of three versions. I have watched it several times with each of the English commentaries and have been well pleased with each.

The French government designated this film a National Treasure. This accolade surely indicates its significance.
Who am I to gainsay what the French government thinks? For me, The Mystery of Picasso is certainly a private treasure. It is the best value for money that I have enjoyed for a long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2007
Format: DVD
A-one-of-a-kind look at the artistic process, the unique art documentary captures the creativity itself. Two friends, the great painter and the great director, Pablo Picasso and Henri-George Clouzot decided to do what Goethe's Faust had dreamed about - to capture and to store forever the moment of beauty and inspiration. Picasso conceives, sketches, and paints twenty canvases before our eyes as the camera rolls. The film did not solve the mystery of Picasso who had said about himself, "When I was 9 years old, I could paint like Rafael; as an adult, all my life I tried to learn how to paint like a child" but it lets us to be the eye-witnesses of the amazing process - the birth of twenty works of art into existence. Twenty exiting moments the only Artist could live through are captured forever for us to enjoy again and again. Clouzot uses a specially designed transparent 'canvas' to provide an unobstructed view and different techniques including slow motion animation to let the main character, the invisible Picasso's brush speak for itself. The film is accompanied by exquisite music and gorgeous photography by Claude Renoir, grandson of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and nephew of Jean Renoir. The paintings created by Picasso in the film cannot be seen anywhere else. They were destroyed upon completion of the film. The French government has taken over the preservation of the original negative and has declared this truly unique and priceless documentary a national (and I would call it an international) treasure.

Criterion DVD also includes "Guernica", a short documentary directed in 1950 by Alain Resnais before any of his feature films. Picasso's "Guernica" is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th Century which was created by the artist in response to bombing and destroying the ancient Basque town of Guernica by German aviation on April 27 1937 during Spanish Civil War. The painting is a passionate protest against war as well as the fascinating work of art. Resnais' 13 minutes short film is based on paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso from 1902 until 949 including "Guernica" and is set against the ode written by French lyrical poet Paul Éluard and recited by Jacques Pruvost and María Casarès. In his early short film, Resnais already uses his famous jump cuts and cross-fades. "Guernica" is a valuable feature which goes well together with the marvelous "The Mystery of Picasso" and adds to understanding one of the most prolific and mysterious Artists of the last century.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A fascinating, stunning original achievement, and a breathtaking visual experiment that pays off. This is a must-see for artists and all lovers of art and film. This movie gives a special immediacy to the larger-than-life figure of Picasso.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is an historic work of cinema. In it, you get to see one of the most significant artists of all time in the act of creating. As an artist, watching Picasso paint is mesmerizing - I've seen this video dozens of times and always see something new in his work. It is instructional - learn from it. It is inspirational - grow from it. Some of the dialogue is scripted and the musical score is dated - I just mute the volume and play my own music - you want to watch this for the painting anyway. The tortuous and creative process Picasso goes through on the last two pieces in the film is more than worth the small price of the DVD.

 A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I saw The Mystery of Picasso when I was a teenager. I was fascinated by it. Having watched it recently, I realize why. The film shows that Pablo Picasso was a master painter. In this film he paints on a glass so that you can see what he is doing as he does it. During the course of a painting Picasso changes course sometimes ending up with a different scene than the one he sketched out in the beginning. You get to see him create cubist paintings and also semi-realistic paintings. The director does a good job of capturing the painting skill of one of the greatest of twentieth century artists. If you are an artist you will really learn a lot from this documentary. If you are just interested in art, this film will give you a glimpse of the process behind its creation.
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