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BRIAN SEWELL'S GRAND TOUR OF ITALY

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Aug 04, 2009)
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$39.99 $35.58

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This lively, learned excursion through Italys greatest sights combines art, adventure, and fascinating social history. Three centuries ago, young British aristocrats completed their education with a Grand Tour of Europe. This 10-part series recreates those formative trips, examining the finest works by Michelangelo, Raphael, and other Italian masters and exploring 18th-century manners and mores. Host Brian Sewells impeccably dry wit, fearless commentary, and racy historical gossip enliven every stop. Like all Athena releases, this four-volume set comes packed with extras and provides an authoritative, entertaining experience for lifelong learning.

Review

...Informative, original, and damn funny to boot. -- BlogCritics.com

The new imprint Athena... this imprint specializes in documentaries, and the ones I have seen so far have been nothing short of outstanding. This label is going to go far. -- Blogger News Network

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Sewell
  • Directors: Christopher Bruce
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: August 4, 2009
  • Run Time: 386 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024OW1I4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,582 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 9, 2009
BRIAN SEWELL'S GRAND TOUR OF ITALY is grande indeed. TEN episodes show what the upper-teenage British nobility route that might have been taken plus the sights seen. This recreation of a "Grand Tour" trek (via car, not carriage) was researched from books and diaries left behind 300 years ago by the young men who set out to finish their education in Italy. The trip took months, a year, or more. It was designed for the gentlemen to see the best art (and purchase some), architecture, experience the Italian culture, learn the language, and experience the female "freedoms".

Over 24 cities and small towns are passed through and filmed. Beautiful. Local people open their hearts to the film viewers. Every stop is another historical moment in the lives of the Grand Tourists. Each displays paintings, architecture, and/or artifacts that can be seen up close as well as from a picturesque nearby hillside. IT IS AN ADVENTURE WITH ITALIAN PAINTING, ARCHITECTURE, RAPHAEL, TITIAN, MICHELANGELO, & an intense view of the cities of FLORENCE, ROME, AND VENICE (just to name 3).

Your filmed Grand Tour has as its guide, famous & controversial art critic, Brian Sewell. So why 4 stars, and not 5?

Sewell often rubbed me the wrong way. But he's won reviewing awards; I have not. At times I wished I could pay a few extra Euros and get a new tour guide. Perhaps one as knowledgeable as Sewell is tough finding. Honestly, there is a lot of intellectual wealth from Sewell.

What's wrong with Sewell? Often his personal taste, conservative to the n-th degree, has him putting down much Italian art, architecture, life, wine, food, etc. and using terms as "It's awful!", "Reduculous", "Awful". Sometimes he's wrong, I've been to Italy.
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This is not your typical art history tour of Italy - it is so much more fun. Sewell has so many wonderful stories of his Grand Tour as a student while he retraces his steps. How I wish I was sitting in the car next to him.

If you love Italy, Art or armchair travel in general make sure to pick this up. I spent a semester in Italy and obviously missed a lot. I was never bored and wish I had this DVD when I was a student.
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I came across this art and architecture guide to Italy, hosted by the London Evening Standard's art critic Brian Sewell, quite by accident, and after giving it a go, I enjoyed myself so much I watched all ten episodes in nearly one go. The idea is to trace the standard eighteenth-century wealthy young Englishman's Grand Tour through Italy, conducted after his time at Oxbridge so as to give him polish and culture; starting at Turin, where he trained in swordsmanship and deportmant, he would then make a progress through the multiple duchies and principalities of the Italian peninsula, learning about the great artists (Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, Bernini, Canova) and buying things for his estate along the way; he would visit the great architectural wonders of the peninsula (in Rome, Urbino, Bologna, Paestum, and so on), and also acquire a kind of carnal education in the fleshpots of Siena, Naples, and Venice. The series is beautifully filmed, and while it makes surprising omissions due to time constraints (we see nothing of Tinteretto or Bellini or Giorgione, for example), the documentary also makes surprising stops along the way for Brian Sewell to reminisce about his own experiences on his first Grand Tour in the 1950s and to sample products a Grand Tourist would try in Italy, such as olive oil or Parma ham. Indeed, the greatest wonder the series shows us is not the towers of San Gimignano or the caldera of Vesuvius, but Sewell himself.

Americans will not know Brian Sewell as well as Brits do: it is important to remember from the outset that this is his show (which the director, Christopher Bruce, ingeniously emphasizes), and Brian Sewell is no Sister Wendy.
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This is a fun & fascinating look at the Grand Tour experience of the British aristocracy as seen through the eyes of the decidedly opinionated & droll Brian Sewell. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Sewell in action and you enjoy art history, I urge you to check out this series. I have been waiting years for this release on US-compatible DVD and am eager to watch it all over again; I can't wait to add it to my personal collection!!
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Verified Purchase
I think this was a wonderful series. Just watched it for a second time, because it is wonderful to have an Art Historian's view on so many places and pieces of art.

This is more of a personal odyssey than an historical account of the past Grand Tour type of Trek. Brian interweaves many different things and sometimes offshoots to a different area entirely. He doesn't not hold back with his views and this is exactly what I like about this production. This is part historical account and travel essay, Personal narrative rolled up into one........

Highly recommend it.

David Carlin

Philadelphia PA
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