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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