The latest in the pioneering series of Exhibition On Screen films directed by Phil Grabsky, I, Claude Monet offers a different approach from the usual. In place of the traditional, third person narrative, this film outlines Monet’s extraordinary career through carefully selected excerpts from the artist’s own letters, which number over three thousand.Portrait of Claude Monet, 1901, Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris, France Bridgeman Images.
The letters, narrated by actor Henry Goodman, offer an illuminating insight into Monet’s euphoric successes and periods of deep depression, his struggles with poverty and his relationships with his two wives, fellow Impressionists and dealers. They are by turns meditative, melancholy and joyous – Monet’s declaration that “I am absolutely sickened with and demoralised by this life I’ve been leading for so long” is soon after followed by the revelatory statement: “every day I discover more and more beautiful things. My head is bursting – I want to paint it all.”Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, London, at Dusk, 1904, National Gallery of Art.
Meanwhile, the screen is filled by over a hundred of Monet’s paintings, filmed in high definition over 83 minutes. It is a privileged close-up view of paintings now scattered across the world, like a private gallery tour of Monet’s greatest works. We also visit the sites that inspired Monet’s paintings – from Venice to Rouen and Giverny – and watch how they are transformed into those eminently recognisable, luminescent brushstrokes. In revealing the private emotional state of the artist at each turning point in his career, the film imbues these often well-known works with a greater depth and meaning. Accompanying the film is an original score by award-winning composer Stephen Baysted; beautiful and hypnotic, the combination is a true treat for the senses.
By Kitty Hudson
I, Claude Monet is released in cinemas nationwide on 21st February 2017.