Rating : ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Availability: In theatres
Plot: Botticelli, Florence and the Medici is one of an increasing number of ‘Great Art on Screen’ documentaries that we are now fortunate to find in local cinemas. Italian film-maker, Pianigiani Marco brings this outstanding documentary to the screen, exploring Botticelli’s life, his art and the enduring fascination we have for the artist centuries after his death. But this is more than a documentary on art. This is Botticelli in context, including the powerful political and historical forces that determined life in the early renaissance period. The all-powerful Medici family, and in particular Lorenzo de’ Medici, had control of everything. Known as ‘Lorenzo the Magnificent’, he was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, and a forceful political leader. To the chagrin of more experienced artists, the young and dynamic Botticelli thrived under his patronage. It was nevertheless a precarious existence. Fortunes were won and lost in the midst of political intrigue and power struggles that often resulted in violence, as factions did whatever they could to gain or retain power.
Cast: The documentary is effectively narrated by Stephan Mangan. But it is the art historians who most powerfully bring together the story of art, politics and power. Deeply knowledgeable and passionate in their exploration of Botticelli’s work, life and times, they provide a compelling story around which the film is created.
Filming and Setting: The documentary uses multiple approaches to tell the story. The artworks themselves draw us into representations of sublime beauty, but also become the ‘mirror of power’ as Botticelli paints the faces of Medici family members into his paintings. Through this, we get to know the people who ruled the economic, political and social aspects of life, including the generation of art. The film also takes us across Florence, the open-air museum in all its magnificence, perfectly illustrating the richness of renaissance life. Timoty Aliprandi’s cinematography is spectacular. Churches, palaces, sculptures, frescoes, all filmed free of tourists, bask in the sharpness of the glorious Italian light. Then through a series of slow-motion, almost dream-like re-enactments, we get a flavour of the human elements – feasting, dancing, and the physical acts of violence that drove the political feuds of the time. It is a truly splendid film.
Personal Comments: Blending narration, art, and drama, Botticelli, Florence and the Medici is a sumptuous film that delights the intellect and the senses. While much attention is focused on the renaissance period, the art historians also bring us to the world of contemporary art and popular culture, as they explore the endurance of the Botticelli brand in the works of more recent artists from Salvador Dali to Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons. It all fits together in a fascinating story of how Botticelli has become one of history’s most important artists. Give yourself a treat and see this film.