Balthus - Through The Looking Glass (DVD)

Wednesday, July 01 2009 @ 03:00 AM PDT

Contributed by: ChAwech

Balthasar Klossowski De Rola is a French painter of Polish descent., better known as Balthus. He lived from 1908 until 2001, and he was a rather controversial painter. One of the paintings that caused controversy was The Guitar Lesson from 1943 (link). In this docu by Damian Pettigrew, originally from 1996, you'll get an intimate look on Balthus' life. For instance in the first scene depicts Balthus with his wife, working together on a large painting and mixing paint.

The docu, which is spoken both English and French, Balthus explains his vision of his work, such as the above mentioned The Guitar Lesson. Where for others this particular painting holds an atmosphere of erotica, for Balthus it was at the time as if he was painting angels. The docu also depicts Balthus' life from early on until where it was at the time of shooting the docu. It features Balthus talking, but also his wife and their three children. In addition to this, several art critics are featured in this docu as well.

A very peculiar point about this docu is the nature of it. It's a very silent film, with very little music being played throughout. This somehow enhances the atmosphere though, and it'll leave you with a very pleasant feeling after watching it. The few pieces of music are very minimal piano solos which are mostly played while paintings and sketches are being showed, enhancing the pleasure.

In 1996, this documentary has already won two prices; the Grand Prize at the UNESCO International Festival of Art Films and the Best Photography Prize at Lausanne International Art Film Festival. It was also in the official selection for the International Vue Ser Les Docs Marseille in 1996. This is no surprise really, as it's a wonderful docu, even if you had no idea on forehend who Balthus actually was. Everyone even mildly interested in painters and paintings should consider picking this one up from either Facets Video from the USA or from Arte from Europa.