It would be impossible to learn more, see more, experience more of Venice even if you lived in the city for a month. Peter Ackroyd does an excellent job as narrator, and writer, for "VENICE REVEALED." It is based on his own book, "Venice Pure City", and this in-depth, entertaining, but also educational experience leaves the viewer as enchanted as if you actually were there in person. You will feel the passion and seduction of this romantic city by way of the visuals and Ackroyd's tutorial guiding through the 4 distinctively different episodes of Venice.
I wish I'd seen this DVD set, 'VENICE REVEALED', prior to my own visit of the city. This set offers subtitles which I found helpful for location names. It also subtitled when an interview was conducted with a Italian-speaking individual. About the only thing visible in person, but not shown on this documentary, is the trash floating on the water, left behind by inconsiderate tourists. This DVD is powerful, both audibly as well as visually. Wonderful music accompaniment.
1 THE CITY AS ARCHITECTURE-Arrival is by boat taxi. Buildings were built in this city on water. Venice is like no other earthly city. The visual is so captivating that listening closely to the historical accounts is a trial. John Ruskin's, "The Stones of Venice", highlights the masonry architecture of 5 styles. Venice is architecturally a mask: facade over decaying brick. Yet, underwater wood piles support the unique aesthetic structures.
2 THE CITY AS ART-There is not a parcel of Venice that has not been featured in fine visual art. The city itself is so powerfully ready for the artist, it's like the master painter arranged buildings, canals, bridges, and water as he did fruits for his still-life works. Old masterpieces show the history of Venice as well as how little has changed. Of course, Tintoretto, a life-long Venice artist, is a focus. Also highlighted is the city's own artistic style: prestezza.
3 THE CITY AS MUSIC-Music describes life in Venice as much as any other facet. Gondoliers and working women sing constantly. In Venice the madrigal was born; Venice was opera's capitol; and it was birthplace of Vivaldi and his spirited, fiery, music; including the orphan girls' choir. "The texture of Venetian music is the texture of the Venetian soul."
4 THE CITY AS THEATRE-Venice is full of small and large theatres and is itself a stage, a set, with the town folk, the gondoliers, each a player on its stage. It happens constantly from street pantomime to great productions--and of course the opera. Even religious ritual and pageantry is elaborately staged. In Venice, theatre is life.
Bonus material includes a helpful booklet, written bios of 2 architects, 6 artists, Ackroyd, 2 composers, 2 theatres, and a filmography list of 26 feature films shot in Venice since 1954. A well done companion DVD, that I'd recommend watching with this ground-level vista, is the aerial footage in "Visions of Italy/The Great Cities".
"VENICE REVEALED" is so very much more than just another travelogue. This is sophisticated education and cultural enlightenment. Perfect for public and school libraries, as well as discerning home DVD collections. An aesthetic value.