A film about art from a director that I wholly admire: Peter Greenaway. I understand that his particular arty brand of weirdness is not to every one's taste, but his uncompromising insistence on truth to the time period that he is filming in is pretty commendable no matter how weird his films come off. There will be no historical inaccuracies here; which is what plagues Klimt. Greenaway too is an absolute master of light! Which is what a movie about Rembrandt requires. I have never seen this prior to this evening--but I am well enough familiar with many of Greenaway's other films, to have a reasonable idea of what to expect.
It stars Martin Freeman, recently of Sherlock fame as the modern Dr. Watson. His Rembrandt is smart and funny--he even makes light of suicide with little fanfare and a lot of wit, and it doesn't seem the slightest bit out of place.
Well I look forward to it. It certainly has started out well.
Juxtaposing rough language and rough living, with over indulgent ideals of what is beautiful in art, is one way that Gustav Klimt can be described. He was quite simply a contradiction; a strange sort of man, with rigid concepts and a temperament that found brutal honesty and impolite criticism his various breads and various butters in life.
He lived in Vienna Austria at a time when notions of modernity were being fiercely debated. Many saw modern art as a vehicle to properly explore for the first time, the uglier side of life--the baser things, that previously, in "polite society" you just didn't do. Others, like Klimt (like some in the world of music composition) thought updating beauty in art was the only proper course for art in the modern age; albeit with a lot of nudity. He shocked, but not for reasons of truth or horror--but because he he painted with egotistical notions of seeking reaction (he often criticized people to their faces just to see how they would take it--not because he really meant it).
Klimt died in 1918, having lived just long enough to witness the horrors of World World I. The beginnings of what would become Nazi Germany had already begun, even before the "Great War." What spooks me, watching a film about art, that many would argue shouldn't be on a horror blog at all, is that these evil elements were swirling about in Klimt's world, and he chose to ignore them. Then, when "good men do nothing," we get the terrors of two world wars and the near extermination of two races of people in Europe. That is scary!! The movie does a good job of conveying that in a really quiet, understated way--it is a kind of creeping menace.
Many do not like the film, I'm on the fence about that. Malkovich's seems (like he seems to do most of the time) to be playing himself, but then again, I do not share the opinion of many of my fellow bloggers that the film is totally devoid of merit. Anyway, here are some images.
On the 26th of April 1937 the German Luftwaffe and the Italian Fascist Aviazione, on behalf of the Spanish Nationalist movement, launched an aerial bombing campaign in the Basque town of Guernica, killing at least 200 to 400 civilians (Basque figures, which has been questioned by modern historians, put the death toll at 1,654). The was "Operation Rügen." It was called by everyone else Terror Bombing. The bombing caused a great deal of structural damage, but it's biggest casualty was the psychological well being of the the Leftist movement in Spain in general and the Basque people in particular.
This horrid act prompted the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso to accept a commission from the Spanish Republican government to paint a mural in remembrance of the bombing; arguably he first political work. It was completed in 1937, and it's debut display was at an International Art Exhibition in France. It was then sent on a display tour around the world, helping to draw attention to the Spanish Civil War.
As a mural, it depicts the horrors that civilians face when they are caught up in wars waged by evil aggressors. Some parts of the mural have images that are literally skeletal demons, raging out with reaping "rewards" of death and civil mayhem. The citizens, scream and die in agonizing despair. It is also loaded with Spanish national images, such as the bull--powerful reminders of what it meant to be Spanish before the Civil War. Playing to the strengths of Spanish identity to both point out what is on the line, what could be lost forever if the madness of war does not abate, and also to bolster the civilian gaze with reminders of who they really are. They are Spaniards--Basque, Castillian, Gallician, etc.--a collective of Iberians, not merely canon fodder for the dogs of war, or subjects to be ruled a fascist politico.
BELOW ARE SOME IMAGES OF THE TOWN AFTER THE BOMBING