Art, Passion and Power
Arts Documentary hosted by Andrew Graham-Dixon, published by BBC in 2018 – English narration
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the history of the Royal Collection, the dazzling collection of art and decorative objects owned by the Queen. Containing over a million items, this is one of the largest art collections in the world – its masterpieces by Van Dyck, Holbein, Leonardo da Vinci, Vermeer and Canaletto line the walls of Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and many other palaces, museums and institutions around Britain.
1) Dangerous Magic
Andrew marvels at the works acquired by the great founders of the modern Royal Collection – Henry VIII and Charles I. Henry VIII deployed the most essential rule of royal collecting, that great art projects great power. Andrew decodes The Story of Abraham series of tapestries in Hampton Court Palace’s Great Hall, explaining how these luxury artworks contain a simple message for his terrified court – obedience.
But Henry also presided over the first great age of the portrait in England; his painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, was a magician who stopped time, preserving the faces of Henry’s court forever. Andrew visits the Royal Collection’s set of over 80 Holbein drawings in Windsor Castle’s print room to see how the artist helped the English to understand themselves in a new way.
Henry VIII tried to overwhelm with magnificence, but for Charles I art was a way to compete with other kings through taste. He was our first connoisseur-king and the greatest royal collector in British history. It was a fateful journey to Spain to win the hand of a Spanish princess that opened Charles’s eyes to the works of Titian and Raphael. But his transformation into a world-class collector was sealed with the wholesale purchase of the enormous art collection of the impoverished Mantuan court. The greatest of the Mantuan treasures were Mantegna’s nine-picture series of The Triumphs of Caesar that Charles installed at Hampton Court. They are themselves a visual depiction of how power – and art – passes from the weak to the strong. Charles was top dog for now – but for how long?
Andrew explores how Charles I’s Royal Collection introduced a new artistic language to British art. The sensuality of Titian and the epic canvases of Tintoretto, still in the Royal Collection today, were a revelation for a country whose visual culture had been obliterated by the Reformation. And we see how Sir Anthony van Dyck created a glamorous new style for the king that could have served as a new beginning for British art. But this was a future that would never happen – the English Civil War and Charles I’s execution put an end to this first great age of royal collecting, with the king’s artworks sold in ‘the most extravagant royal car-boot sale in history’.
2) Paradise Regained
In the year 1660, something miraculous began to happen. After the execution of Charles I, the Royal Collection had been sold off and scattered to the four winds. But now, with the restoration of Charles II, the monarchy was back. And with it their driven, sometimes obsessive, passion for art. Slowly but surely, new pieces were acquired, as others were returned out of fear of reprisal. The Royal Collection had sprung back to life.
Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story of the Royal Collection’s remarkable resurrection, following its fortunes from Charles II through to the 18th century and the enlightened purchases of George III. This is when some of the Queen’s greatest treasures were collected – a magnificent silver-gilt salt cellar in the form of castle, kept in the Tower of London, a gold state coach, adorned with cherubs and tritons, and masterpieces by Vermeer, Canaletto and Leonardo da Vinci.
Andrew discovers the extraordinary peace offerings given to the 30-year-old Charles II by fearful citizens, because they had backed the Parliamentarians in the Civil War. And then there are works given by other countries, hoping to curry favour with the restored monarch – Holland gave sculptures, a yacht, a bed and a collection of paintings worth nearly Â£30 million in today’s money, including two magnificent masterpieces by Titian that are still in the Collection.
At Windsor Castle, Andrew reveals Charles II’s life of extravagance – this was a king who dined in public, as if he was a god, in an attempt to rival France’s Louis XIV, the Sun King. His palace walls were hung with paintings of beautiful young women, the ‘Windsor Beauties’. Even Charles’s furniture speaks of excess – tables and mirrors completely covered in silver.
But Charles was also a king who bought wisely and Andrew is astonished by the recent discoveries of Royal Collection Trust conservators. Blank pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks (most likely acquired in Charles II’s reign) come alive under ultraviolet light, revealing drawings unseen for centuries.
Andrew shows how the Collection grew during the 18th century, despite philistine kings like George II (‘I hate painting’, he once shouted in his German accent). Under George III, royal collecting soared to new heights, driven by the new king’s enlightened curiosity in the wider world and his desire to understand how it worked. Andrew travels to Venice to tell the story of one of the greatest purchases in the Royal Collection’s history – as a young king, George III paid Â£20,000 to Canaletto’s agent Consul Joseph Smith for a superb collection including over 50 paintings by the Venetian master.
George III, like Charles II, would be feted with gifts including the Padshahnama – an illustrated Indian chronicle of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (famous for commissioning the Taj Mahal). Andrew discovers the incredible painting, so delicate that it was, legend tells us, painted with brushes made with hairs taken from the necks of baby kittens. Because of his restless curiosity, by the end of his reign George III had overseen some of the greatest acquisitions in the Royal Collection’s history.
3) Palaces and Pleasuredomes
Andrew Graham-Dixon continues his exploration of the Royal Collection, the vast collection of art and decorative objects owned by the Queen. In the third episode he has reached the age of the Romantics – the flamboyant George IV who created so much of the visual look of the modern monarchy, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, for whom collecting was an integral part of their happy marriage.
As Prince of Wales, George was a famously loose cannon – a spendaholic prince whose debts ballooned in tandem with the royal waistline. But as a collector, Andrew argues, George was one of the great artistic figures of the Romantic age. His tastes were very much formed by the fallout from the French Revolution; as the great French aristocratic collections were broken up, an exodus of great art flooded into London’s auction rooms – and George was there to buy them. He assembled a world-class collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, including key works by Rembrandt, Cuyp and de Hooch, as well as some of the greatest examples of French furniture ever produced, which Andrew sees in the state rooms of Buckingham Palace.
George IV was a natural showman and Andrew argues that his visit to Edinburgh in 1822 helped pioneer the modern monarchy’s use of spectacle. But, like Henry VIII and Charles before him, George had the sense to partner up with an artist of genius – Sir Thomas Lawrence. The result of their collaboration is seen in a series of stirring battlefield portraits that line Windsor Castle’s Waterloo Chamber.
Queen Victoria is often depicted as the uptight opposite of her louche uncle, but Andrew argues that, for her, art was just as important. This was a passion that she could share with her beloved husband, Prince Albert, who believed that learning how to make art was the best way to understand it.
Andrew visits Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, still filled with their art possessions, including marble facsimiles of the arms and legs of her infant children, commissioned by Victoria herself.
Andrew argues that Albert was a natural curator; he instilled a love for collecting in his children and compiled an early ‘database’ of the complete works of Raphael which he kept in his new ‘print room’ in Windsor Castle as a tool for art historians. But it is on the streets of South Kensington (‘Albertopolis’) that Andrew discovers Albert’s real legacy – the museums and educational institutions here are a testimony to his vision for the area, purchased with the help of profits from the Great Exhibition.
4) Modern Times
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how royal collecting has changed since the days of Queen Victoria. This is a story of the British monarchy’s remarkable survival, while elsewhere the crown heads of Europe crumbled in the face of world wars and revolutions. But it is also an age when women took charge of royal collecting; from Victoria to Elizabeth II, queens and queen consorts have used art to steady the ship of monarchy during this uncertain age.
It’s one of the curiosities of the Royal Collection that as the monarchy’s power diminished, so too did the objects they collected. Gone were epic canvases, instead came objects of exquisite, delicate and intimate beauty. Andrew marvels at a selection of the royal family’s collection of Faberge jewellery – one of the greatest in the world – that includes the Mosaic Egg from 1914. So taken were Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandria with the works of Peter Carl Faberge, that the jeweller opened a London shop to service the demands of royal clientele.
And then there’s Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – presented to George V’s queen to thank her for her steadfastness during the first world war, the Dolls’ House is an astonishing artistic collaboration by over 1,500 people and companies, replete with books containing new stories by authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, tiny champagne bottles filled with real champagne and even mini shotguns that can be broken, loaded and fired. More than just a dolls’ house, this is a three-dimensional archive of a vanished artistic age.
The Collection reveals fresh insights into these remarkable women, in particular HM the Queen Mother, who loved art and collected with flair. At Clarence House, Andrew discovers a surprising collection of contemporary British art that she assembled in the 1930s and 1940s, including works by Walter Sickert, LS Lowry, Paul Nash and Augustus John. Andrew traces her greatest commission, a series of 26 paintings of Windsor Castle by John Piper, painted during the Second World War. With Windsor at risk of being bombed, Piper created an eerie dreamscape filled with black skies and foreboding.
Andrew also brings royal collecting up to date. From the outset Elizabeth II’s priorities had been focused on preserving and displaying the Collection, and Andrew shows how one of the key events in its recent history – the Windsor Castle fire – was an unlikely catalyst in the reform of the Collection’s care. Concluding his exploration, Andrew meets HRH the Prince of Wales to view two of his recent commissions, powerful portraits of veterans of the Battle of Britain and the D-Day landings, and to discuss the continued importance of this remarkable collection.
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Published on: Sep 23, 2018 @ 01:56
Dream the Future: Series 2
Science Documentary hosted by Sigourney Weaver, published by Bonne Pioche in 2018 – English narration
Dream The Future: Series 2
What will the future look like? How will new discoveries and research impact our everyday lives in 2050?
The oceans are at the heart of the terrestrial climate machine. Without them, there is no life. However, they are subjected to significant changes: heating, acidification, pollution, a loss of biodiversity. In 2050, we will do all it takes to preserve them.
What will communication look like in 2050? First, the internet will be everywhere. Researchers and scientists from around the world are working on ways to make this happen, for example with self-sufficient balloons equipped with wifi to cover digital deserts.
This episode will reveal how new technologies will transform fashion in 2050: 3D textile printing, intelligent clothes, new fibers, new sustainable materials that adapt to the body’s needs… With a special guest appearance by JC de Castelbajac, the fashion designer.
This episode will reveal how new technologies will transform music by 2050 new robotic and intelligent instruments, intuitive composition software, virtual artists, collaborative composition and more. Tomorrow, music will be capable of adapting to our moods and offer us more than just entertainment.
To respond to global demand and population growth, energy production will have to increase by 75% between now and 2050. The fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) that we use currently use on a massive scale are becoming increasingly rare and are highly polluting, wreaking havoc on the climate.
Our cultural heritage is one of humanity’s most precious assets: how can we pass it on to the future? It’s a crucial challenge: sharing it with the greatest number but also help it stand up against threats of destruction. New technologies and virtual reality open up unprecedented perspectives.
Art is undergoing a revolution brought about by advances in technology. Digital techniques, data flows, calculating power, and 3D visualization are some of the tools that open the way to new ways and forms of expression and new artistic practices.
We all dream of having the best school possible for our children – one that nourishes their curiosity, makes them eager to learn and provides them with the technological, intellectual and human tools that better prepare them for the future in store.
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Love and Hate Crime
Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Ben Steele, published by BBC in 2018 – English narration
Documentary series about hate crime in the US told through murders with elements of love and passion as well as prejudice. Each film tells the story of one unfolding case.
1) Double Lives
A young man is led into court and sentenced to life for the savage murder of the woman he loved. The camera follows him into prison, where he starts to explain his story and how he reacted with blind rage when he found out a secret his girlfriend was holding from him. But is he telling the truth, and what really happened? Slowly his story unravels as more and more information is found out about him.
Filmed with amazing access to the killer in prison and in court, the film tells the story of a hate crime and the danger of being different in the USA. The film also traces the victim’s story through speaking to the police, others who investigated the murder and those who were close to her.
2) Murder in Mississippi
When a black man is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi, an FBI investigation uncovers a campaign of attacks by local white kids. But what is the true role of one 18-year-old girl?
When James Anderson was run down in the street by a gang of white youths, it was condemned as a modern-day lynching, a sign that the old race hate of the southern states was as strong as ever. This is the story of one of the white teenagers, Sarah Graves, then 18, who was in the truck that
ran Anderson down. The film follows her family as they try to come to terms with what happened that night and looks at why Sarah became part of a gang that carried out a racist attack.
The story is also told by James’s family, the police and the African-American judge who tried to get to the truth of what Sarah’s involvement was. This is a film about the nature of prejudice and whether one person’s role in a dreadful murder can be traced to the influences around them.
James was alone in a hotel car park when two trucks carrying a group of white teenagers pulled up. They were from the white-flight suburbs that surround Jackson, the 80-per-cent-black capital city of Mississippi. A couple of the boys beat James to the ground and stole his wallet. James staggered away. An eyewitness heard a shouted racial slur and then saw a green dodge truck run him down. CCTV recorded the moment the truck struck him and then ran over his body.
Police picked up the teenagers later that night, still drunk and still joking about what they had done – all apart from Sarah Graves, who seemed full of remorse. The police thought this girl was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time. The driver was charged with murder, but Sarah was not charged and released.
Protests marches in Jackson demanded greater police action and more charges. In the suburbs where the white gang came from, people portrayed them as drunk and foolish teenagers who had made a terrible mistake. But an investigation by the FBI was to find something more sinister. This was not the only time the teenagers had made a late-night trip to what they called Jafrica. It was actually just the latest in a series of vicious racially motivated attacks they had carried out.
The subsequent investigation saw ten youths sent to jail, including Sarah. The film explores what the role of Sarah really was that night. It culminates with her mother Mary meeting Judge Wingate, who sent Sarah to jail and who humbled Mary in court by questioning why she had used racial slurs when raising her daughter. It is a meeting that will change Mary’s view of her own responsibility for what happened that night.
This film from director Ben Steele and executive producer Darren Kemp is ultimately about the nature of prejudice and how one person’s role in a dreadful murder can be traced to the influences around them.
3) Killer with a Camera
This film goes inside the mind of a murderer using the video footage he shot during the planning and execution of his crime, and his intimate journal, along with access to the court case that must decide whether to accept his insanity plea.
When coastguard officer Adrian Loya breaks into the Cape Cod apartment of married couple Lisa and Anna Trubnikova and opens fire, it is the culmination of many months planning. With Lisa dead, Anna badly wounded and a policeman shot, Loya is taken into custody. Police find he is wearing a video camera to record his actions and also find videos made over many months when he was planning of the attack. There is also a journal charting his obsession with and hate for Lisa and the twisted thought process that lead to his decision to kill.
Using his videos and journal, this film goes inside the mind of a man as he decides to carry out a multiple shooting, and it watches the trial as the jury tries to decide whether the obsessive, meticulous Loya should have his insanity plea to be accepted.
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Published on: Sep 21, 2018 @ 23:41