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Tim's Vermeer [Blu-ray] (2014)

 PG-13 |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (425 customer reviews)

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Tim's Vermeer [Blu-ray] + Secret Knowledge (New and Expanded Edition): Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters
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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 10, 2014
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (425 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00J5LXN2M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,053 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning a decade, Jenison's adventure takes him to Holland, on a pilgrimage to the North coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and eventually even to Buckingham Palace. The epic research project Jenison embarks on is as extraordinary as what he discovers.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"Tim's Vermeer" (2013 release; 80 min.) brings the story of Tim Jenison, an inventor who has amassed a small fortune over his life time and now has become fascinated (obsessed may be the better word) with the 17th century Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer. Tim examines in particular Vermeer's painting "The Music Lesson", which has an astonishing amount of details in it. Tim eventually comes to the conclusion that Vermeer used a variety of optical devices (mirrors, camera obscura, lenses), and to test his theory, he decides to recreate "The Music Lesson" from scratch, even though he is not a skilled painter by any means. To tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, this documentary is made (and narrated) by Penn, he of Penn & Teller. Turns out that Penn and Tim have known each other for many years, and it's easy to see why this particular topic would have peaked Penn's interest enough to make it into a documentary. Second, the feeling of the documentary is pretty much one of a crime caper, in that we get to find out in detail how Tim goes about testing his various theories and his recreation of "The Music Lesson". Third, if you don't care for art, in particular painting, save yourself the trouble and catch another movie, as obviously the entire 'raison d'être' of the documentary is the making of a painting. At some point during his recreation of the painting, Tim gives an exhausted look towards the camera and sighs "it's like watching paint dry", much to the delight of the theater's crowd, which exploded in laughter.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible presentation April 29, 2014
Format:Blu-ray
Tim just joined the ranks of David Hockney and Philip Steadman in pi$$ing off the Old Master art snobs, as you might see in other reviews here. Incidentally, he consulted with both of those scholars and, while nothing is absolutely proven, he managed to convince each that his optical gadget is at least as believable as Hockney's camera lucida or Steadman's camera obscura.

It's quite amazing that Tim Jenison had not only the idea about Vermeer's possible optical aids, but the means and the time to create such a convincing demonstration. He started by knocking a wall out of his warehouse workspace, and painstakingly reconstructed the room of "Music lesson." Working at various times with live models, this complete tyro to painting created a remarkable replica of that great work, documented in detail in videos that eventually made up this presentation.

It wasn't just the demonstration, plus the demonstration that others could use his method equally well, that supported Tim's ideas. Given the endless time he spent staring at original Vermeers as well as at the scene in his own studio, he noted things like chromatic aberration, a common defect of lenses back then, captured in the original paintings. A true artist (if that phrase actually means much) might have "fixed" such things. A purely literal reproduction, like the one Jenison proposed, would simply record it along with everything else.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll likely see this film only once... June 29, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
...because once the secret behind a magic trick is revealed, there really is little need to see the trick again. Upon seeing it, you will understand immediately why a magician like Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) would take an interest in producing and directing a film about Vermeer, the Dutch Master, whose paintings far exceed in realism those of his contemporaries. Of course, the film is just as much about Tim Jenison -- a name unknown to me prior to seeing this film -- whose genius is quite astounding. That Tim and Penn have been lifelong friends -- a fact one learns early in the film -- makes perfect sense because Tim's genius is like that of a great magician. Inspired by the David Hockney book "Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Technique of the Old Masters", Tim came to believe that there was some "trick" at the heart of the genius of Vermeer -- the kind of trick that is at the heart of much good magic. I am trying to not give away what the trick is, because that would be a spoiler for this film.

The film is hugely thought provoking. I, for one, am entirely convinced that Tim Jenison has discovered the secret of Vermeer, and that leaves me with a mix of feelings. I cannot look at Vermeer in the same way. If Tim Jenison is correct, then Vermeer's genius is that of a magician. Like all great magicians, he guarded his secret so that none of his contemporaries knew how he did what he did, and it took another magician to uncover the secret 350 years later. One gets the sense that both Penn Jillette and Tim Jenison want you to come away still regarding Vermeer with what wonder and affection you brought to his work initially. Their dilemma is that of the magician: If he reveals the trick to you, you are edified but no longer enchanted.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One Man's Quest to Re-Create a Master Work
Extremely enjoyable story of one man's quest (obsession?) to recreate his "own" Vermeer master work. Intelligent, funny, and simply entertaining.
Published 6 hours ago by LBTechie
5.0 out of 5 stars Curously Refreshing
Fascinating docu-movie. If you like history, art, engineering, forensics, psychology or pretty much any other discipline, you should get an absolute kick out of "Tim's... Read more
Published 5 days ago by bookworm2
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching one man's obsession play out in front of a camera has never...
One of the coolest documentaries I have ever watched. Watching one man's obsession play out in front of a camera has never been more fun or interesting to watch. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Moises
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating show. Everyone should watch this. I think Penn and Teller nailed it
Published 5 days ago by susie
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account that sheds new light on the mystery ...
A fascinating account that sheds new light on the mystery behind Vermeer's near photographic paintings. A must see for those who fancy themselves art historians.
Published 6 days ago by Mark Ebersole
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great documentary!
Published 7 days ago by Justin Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars For Artists- Enlightening and Fun
This is a very fun ride into the crazy side where art and technology mesh. While completing my BFA in Drawing and Painting in the 70's, it was already thought that Vermeer MAY HAVE... Read more
Published 8 days ago by W. Weber
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great documentary worth a watch!
Published 10 days ago by time
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious!
There's been much speculation how artists used optical devices. Most proposals are really hard to use but Tim has nailed an approach that is easy to implement. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Rupert Nesbitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly beautiful in every way.
This documentary was utterly beautiful on multiple levels. It was not only an exploration into Vermeer, but an exploration of the genius of mankind. Life-affirming in every way.
Published 14 days ago by Pigwit
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