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For centuries, Venice has fired the imaginations of painters, poets, composers-and millions of visitors. Join writer and historian Peter Ackroyd for an in-depth tour of the art, architecture, music, and theatre of Europe's most mysterious and seductive city.
Here, the pale Mediterranean light reveals cityscapes as painted by Canaletto and Guardi, modern voices revive the soaring spirituality of Vivaldi's hymns, and Venetians still don disguises to revel and role-play at Carnival. Exploring private palazzos, magnificent churches, and winding alleyways, Ackroyd also discovers the truth beneath the artifice, where beauty masks terminal decay. He interviews preservationists now working desperately to rescue the city's treasures from the ravages of time and the sea. Always a perceptive critic and spellbinding storyteller, Ackroyd serves as the perfect guide for an unforgettable journey.
An award-winning novelist and bestselling historian, Peter Ackroyd (London: The Biography) has written over 30 books and presented many TV documentaries. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Based on travel writer Peter Ackroyd's book Venice, Pure City, this four-episode documentary series about Venice, Italy, far surpasses the average dull DVD glimpse at the real place. Tourists preparing to travel to this ancient European city, or even art history students, will find Venice Revealed informative and semi-entertaining. In this BBC hit, Peter Ackroyd narrates episodes organized thematically by artistic genre: architecture, art, music, and theater are the areas he lends his expertise to. Instead of hitting tourist neighborhoods with his camera in hand, Ackroyd strategically wanders the city, musing about buildings, works of art, festivals, classical songs, and the men who invented them. Indeed, Venice Revealed, with Ackroyd pontificating about masterpieces galore, does feel like a men's club, but the influential work that has been inspired by Venice is unassailable. Therefore, one is left to sit back and wonder what it is about this city of canals that enabled so many men to make so much over the centuries. The "Architecture" episode, for example, highlights several architectural elements and structures found throughout Venice, including those made in the Romanesque, Venetian Gothic, rococo, and Renaissance styles. One professor Ackroyd interviews rightly calls Venice a "multilayered cake," and from there the viewer gets a heavy dose of biography about 19th-century art and architecture critic John Ruskin, who chronicled Venice's rich architectural variety. The "Art" episode dwells on the Renaissance but covers the 14th through 19th centuries, discussing Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Giorgio, Canaletto, and Titian, to name a few. In "Music," one learns almost too much about Antonio Vivaldi, that 17th-century classical genius. In the "Theater" episode, Ackroyd visits the world-famous La Fenice opera house and the Carnival, renowned for its lurid costuming and masquerade balls. While all of this feels rather stock for a historical treatment of Venice, what distinguishes this series from others is Ackroyd's commentaries that conceptually link all the arts. In these intelligent summations, Ackroyd notes a Venetian love of improvisation, the Venetian desire to keep up appearances, and the Italian importance of the family unit. In all, one comes away with a decent understanding of not only this city's surface, but the human motivations that have built it. --Trinie Dalton
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From the box: "Exploring private palazzos, magnificent churches, and winding alleyways, Ackroyd also discovers the truth behind artiface, where beauty masks decay. He interviews preservations now working desperately to rescue the city's treasures from the ravages of time and the sea."
This is not a travel guide like Rick Steve's or Rudy Maxima's dvd's. It's a critical and insightful journey into Venice of the past and present featuring the music of Vivaldi, the 17th century classical musician who resided here, altho it could be used as a prelude to travel. Most tours offer one day in Venice. Even the art history tour I took barely scratched the surface of this unique Italian province. I only had time for a visit to the magnificent Byzantime church and the Rennaisance palace of the Doges plus a cappaccinno in the cafe in St. Marks Square in remembrance of Katherine Hepburn's remarkable movie "Summertime". After watching this DVD i feel like i need to return and see Venice with 'new eyes'. I thought i knew the history of Venice as a political, artistic and economic entity from my art history courses, but Ackroyd explains the motivations of the residents and displays parts of the city the average tourist would never expeience. This is an indepth exploration of Venice the city and it's inhabitants.
DVD: 2 thin boxed discs containing 2 episodes each set in a cardboard box. approx. 164 minutes. pristine quality. color and stereo documentary.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
He acknowledges in the jacket that in writing the book on which the DVD is based he NEVER SPOKE TO A SINGLE VENETIAN! What an amazing admission for any author.
I viewed all 4 titles in the 2 disc DVD set and the only one with any redeeming qualities was the last -Venice as Theatre.
What a disappointment! An opportunity wasted to do a good documentary on the most fascinating city on the planet.
PS Please tell us which music was used in the making of the DVD - the music is in fact the best part of the whole DVD set!
Other annoyances: while talking about a work of art they show some work other than the one he's referring to; playing the Dies Ire from Mozart Requiem waaaay to much: barely mentioning Monteverdi in the segment on Venice and music; using the same footage of Ackroyd in a boat on a canal over and over again. Admittedly these last failings are the directors faults and not Ackroyds. I will say the segment on Venice and theater was not as bad as the other sections.
A good point is that some interesting scholars and writers get interviewed like Ruskin exponent Sarah Quill and Vivaldi researcher Micky White. One only wishes they were the focus of the series and not Ackroyd and his hackneyed observations.
I'd say skip this one and get "Francesco's Venice" a way superior look at Venice by a Venetian with better cinematography and greater depth and scope than this. I would say that but for some reason this excellent BBC series still is only available in Britain in a Region 2 version. But if you have hacked your DVD player to play all regions by all means pass on Ackroyd and go for Francesco.
The pictures bear no relationship to the narration about 50 percent of the time and the same footage is used in episode after episode.
Do not buy this.