Top critical review
42 people found this helpful
on October 28, 2012
I have to give this survey mixed reviews because it is so uneven. Each of the nine 55 minute episodes (from the Greeks through Contemporary art) is written and directed by someone different.
Moreover, even though historian Michael Wood narrates all nine, each episode gives considerable time to individual art historians of particular periods and artists. So, for example, in episode 7, "Impressionism and Postimpressionism", one art historian gives a wonderfully accessible yet deeply informed commentary on Courbet, Manet and the Impressionists. And then another art historian takes over for the Postimpressionists, and gives a less accessible art jargon filled commentary.
In addition, some episodes try to cover too much and therefore move quickly, while others such as the one on the Baroque, the focus is kept on seven artists: Pietro di Cortona, Borromini, Bernini, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Rubens and Rembrandt, giving lots of screen time to the paintings themselves, something I really appreciated.
And finally, the production values seem really dated, even though it is from the late 1980s. The production notes say they filmed in 150 locations in eight countries, at considerable cost. And yet that is woven with other grainy stock footage of scenery.
All in all, though, it was worth watching, and the price is reasonable.