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James Ravilious: A World in Pictures (2007)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary  |  November 2007 (UK)
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Title: James Ravilious: A World in Pictures (TV Movie 2007)

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November 2007 (UK)  »

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James Ravilious: A World in Photographs  »

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Disappointingly dull film
4 December 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Shown as part of BBC4's season of programmes about photography, this film deals with the work of Cornish photographer James Ravilious. I could not have told you this before watching but Ravilious was famous for capturing rural life in Cornwall – specifically aspects that were gradually dying away as the farming community become more industrial. This did interest me but after watching the film I did wonder who it was aimed at.

The film is mostly taken up with Ravilious' photographs interspersed with comments from the subjects thereof many years later. This approach confused me as it seemed to offer nothing more than a collection of his work. This was visually interesting but then why not just do that and drop the interjections from the subjects because mostly they add little of value. Alternatively the film could have gone to the other side and instead have focused more on the stories behind the photographs – however the comments are not enough to take it this direction either. So in the end what are we left with? Well, the casual viewer looking to be informed will see some striking images and for this maybe it is worth it, but I didn't get an understanding of why the work was important. Similarly those familiar with his photographs may well wonder why they are spending 30 minutes looking at images they are already very well acquainted with but not provided with anything new in the shape of insight or interest.

Bennett's narration is surprisingly flat and it is disappointing to hear such a talent with so little to say – hell, his diaries are interesting even on dull days. Maybe it is because of how short the film is but I didn't think it understood what it wanted to do. If it was just a slide show then it should have spent longer on the images, but even as a casual viewer I wanted it to give me more – why are these images important, what was he capturing and how has it changed. As it is the film offers very little more than you could get in a book of Ravilious' work and was a disappointment.

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