An essay contained inside the flipside of the cover on this release states that the people behind Filmic Art have tried to do is 'take inspiration from the masters of 17th century Baroque painting and set our own scenes that bear resemblance with the old motifs yet bringing the 21st century filmic art into the scenes.' What's that mean, exactly? It's a fancy way of saying 'we've made moving, real life versions of some neat old paintings.'
So without further ado, here's a look at what happens in the four 'paintings' contained on this disc:
The Goldsmith's Guild: (16:00) The four members of the Goldsmith's guild sit at the table posing. They break into a fight, resume their pose, and then break into another fight, this time in slow motion and in reverse. When it's all said and done, they're sitting the same way that they began the portrait, only this time they're wearing hats. This scene was influenced by Thomas de Keyser and his painting 'The Syndics Of The Amsterdam Goldsmith's Guid.'
Portrait Of A Frightened Lady: (12:52) A Victorian era woman sits beside her table in a chair, posing for her portrait. She moves her head around a few times and adjusts her position and then becomes frightened and runs away as the towels and linen in the room slowly flutters around the frame seemingly under its own power, knocking over the table and the flowers sitting upon it. Then it all happens all over again, only this time in reverse, ending with the woman sitting as she began. This scene was influenced by Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy's 'Portrait Of Johanna Le Maire.'
Portrait Of A Prominent Scientist: (14:50) A learned man sits besides his table full of books and his globe while a candle flickers beside him. He moves his face and the objects in the room with him move under their own power. His hat flies off of his head and a blanket falls down over top of him from the ceiling. Then, as with the other clips, it all plays out again in reverse. The influence for this piece was a blend of paintings - Thomas de Keyser's 'Portrait Of A Gentleman,' Frans Hal's 'Portrait Of An Elderly Man,' Rembrandt van Rijn's 'A Scholar' and a few others.
Still Life With Lobster And Fish: (15:00) The camera focuses on a plate with some bread, lobster, shrimp and fish sitting atop it. Suddenly, the fish fly up to the ceiling followed by the lobster and the shrimp and the plate is empty. They fall back to the plate and the wind, coming from the left of the screen, blows over the flowers and the glass of white wine that sit beside the plate, and then the wind coming from the right of the screen sets it all right again. This segment was influenced by Jan Davidsz De Heem's 'Still Life With Lobster And Nautilus Cup,' Abraham von Beyeren's 'Banquet Still Life,' and Frans Snyder's 'A Banquet.'
The fact that all of this material plays out in complete silence does the material no favors at all. Had some music been placed behind the paintings as they slowly come to life, it might have been easier to enjoy but as it stands, you'll find yourself sitting in front of the television starring at the screen and very quickly losing interest. Honestly, it's hard to imagine anyone sitting through all four of these clips without reaching for the fast forward button. That said, in defense of the people who put this project together, they have done a good job in terms of costume, set design and attention to detail. Art experts and those who appreciate 17th century fine art in particular will probably get more out of this than the average viewer, but then again, those same art aficionados might simply be content with just looking at the original paintings in the first place...
The four scenes and the two bonus scenes are presented in AVC encoded 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. The video quality is quite good, showing plenty of detail and very vivid color reproduction. Black levels look nice and strong and there are no obvious problems with mpeg compression artifacts, edge enhancement or aliasing. This was all shot digital and transferred straight to Blu-ray so there are no problems with print damage or heavy grain to report on. The movement in the 'paintings' happens at a fairly slow speed so there's no blurring to report, everything here looks clean, clear and very colorful.
There is no audio on this DVD at all, everything is presented completely silent.
Aside from a static menu offering scene selection, this Blu-ray release contains two Blu-ray Bonus Clips, the first of which (3:02 ) is an alternate take on third scene. It shows a man sitting at a table covered in books as a curtain falls behind and then over him only to then defy gravity and head back up to whence it came. The second clip (6:54) is an alternate take on the first scene and it shows four men looking prim and proper as they pose for their portrait only to break out into a fight.
If you're into watching fake paintings move slowly and in reverse, by all means ,go to town with Baroque Motion Volume One - it'll definitely float your boat. That said, if you find the premise of this release as puzzling and, well, dull as this reviewer does then keep on moving, there's nothing to see here. Obviously this release is intended for a small niche market and those who fall into that market will no doubt appreciate the lengths to which the producers have gone to recreate the paintings that they've attempted to bring to life but those outside of that small, specialized group will probably be left scratching their heads wondering what the point is.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.