American Masters: Season 20, Episode 6

Andy Warhol: A Documentary (20 Sep. 2006)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Ric Burns unearths rarely seen footage and offers keen observations on the life and artistic influence of Andy Warhol.


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Title: Andy Warhol: A Documentary (20 Sep 2006)

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Episode credited cast:
Herself - Narrator
Irving Blum ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Donna De Salvo ...
Pat Hackett ...
Dave Hickey ...
Himself (archive footage)
John Richardson ...
Edie Sedgwick ...
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


Ric Burns unearths rarely seen footage and offers keen observations on the life and artistic influence of Andy Warhol.

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Release Date:

20 September 2006 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Longwinded, Flawed, and Not Extremely Interesting
1 March 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary started off strongly but the quality quickly fell. It focused more on his work rather than him and his life which was somewhat disappointing. They looked far too deeply into the "hidden meanings" of what he was thinking about, his reasoning and motivations, which was all just speculation. They claimed he always wanted fame and was purely driven by that one "fact." In reality it is just a theory and their confident "certainties" were mostly conjecture and purely guesses. A lot of the interviewed "experts" weren't even alive at the time so they had little to no first hand sources and that is a problem considering that this is recent modern history. The did have footage from some of his close friends and brother, but not nearly enough.

The center of attention seemed to be Warhol's sexuality which many times was irrelevant the context of the discussion at hand. Everything seemed to revolve around that though and they kept just coming back to it. Most of the interviewees almost viewed Warhol as a god, yet he had many faults and they even revealed that he was a stalker, sexual pervert and a sick man. Andy even said at one point that it was too bad he couldn't have filmed a friend's death when he jumped out a window while thinking he could fly when high on speed. They also made some stupid remarks like "I don't think he was a bad person I just think he did some awfully bad things." Now if that isn't the epitome of contradiction I don't know what is. Many of those who knew him said they disliked things about him like his manipulativeness, how he treated people badly, took advantage of people, and made much of his fame from the deaths of celebrities at the time.

With all of Andy Warhol's faults they always acted like he was justified in actions because he was an artistic genius. That is no excuse. For example they claimed illegal drugs helped him stay up longer and make great art so it was all peachy keen. Because of his skill at making art and being one of the best, they start comparing him to Jesus in a symbolic way and with the subject of his attempted assassination a martyr. His friends said he was an amphetamine addict yet they also claimed he rarely did drugs and just watched others participate. There is another example of completely conflicting statements.

The general consensus of the documentary was that everything Warhol did or touched was genius. For example filming a guy sleeping or a still video of a building. How is that at all interesting or appealing. I was looking more for an informational about Warhol's life not some fanatic's view of him.

Some of their other comments just didn't make any sense. They said he was Elvin in nature, and that getting a haircut is an example of power and sexual submission. Now that is one I have never heard before! Remember that next time you get your haircut! Another comparison that was utterly ridiculous was that "everything is a human face from coke bottles to urine stains." What!?!? Almost all of their experts claimed Andy was an unemotionally being yet talk about his "emotional roller-coaster" of relationships and his breakdowns after breakups and as a result of his stalking episodes.

One thing that it did do extremely well was that it drew very interesting relationships between his work and events that happened in his life especially his childhood. They could have used a lot more actual footage, interviews from the time, and his process of making art. One thing that bugged me was that even the "art experts" called many of his works "paintings" while they are actually screenprints. It was very longwinded, flawed and not very interesting for the most part.

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