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Battle of Wills (2008)

| Documentary
Tells the compelling story of the Sanders portrait, a painting with a controversial claim to be the only image of Shakespeare taken from life.

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Tells the compelling story of the Sanders portrait, a painting with a controversial claim to be the only image of Shakespeare taken from life.

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Hur såg Shakespeare ut?  »

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Shakespeare's Spectres
12 February 2011 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

A wonderful, highly interesting and above all revealingly contemporary documentary. The main issue is to show two contenders for being the "real" portrait of William Shakespeare, the Chandos portrait owned and supported by the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Sanders portrait owned by Lloyd Sullivan, whose ancestor, being a bit actor in Shakespeare's company, has allegedly painted it in 1603 and in whose family it has been handed down ever since. Besides showing the intriguing Sanders portrait and its history, this documentary tells also a lot about the way art has become a product of commerce, for there is a lot of money involved, gain and loss for the owner of the "true" portrait. And on yet another level it documents how much resentment and national pride are becoming main issues if it comes down to settling the battle between those two portraits. This reminded me a lot of Jacques Derrida observing that yet in another battle, this time of ideologies, between Martin Heidegger and Meyer Shapiro, their issue, the Pair of Shoes by Vincent Van Gogh and moreover Van Gogh himself becomes a revenant, a ghost, a spectre, in the process. A subtle documentary and the faint smile exposed in the Sanders portrait stays in mind... And bonne chance to Lloyd Sullivan!!!!


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