Bosch: The Garden of Dreams
Original title: El Bosco. El jardín de los sueños
- 1h 30m
Fascinating attempt at decoding an undecipherable masterpiece.
When commissioned by Madrid's Prado Museum to make a film about Hyeronymus Bosch and his work, famed cinematographer-documentarist José-Luis Lopez-Linares proposed to the curator not to deal with the artist's entire work but to concentrate instead on one of his paintings, "The Garden of Dreams", only. A bold gamble knowing that the finished film would last about eighty minutes. But Lopez-Linares knew what he wanted and thought he would be able to capture the viewer's attention throughout: relying on art historian Reindert Falkenburg's original idea, he would have the triptych opened before our eyes at the outset of his documentary and then ask personalities in various fields to each express their own feelings and interpretation. Among them there would be writers (Orhan Parnuk, Salman Rushdie), musicians (Ludovico Einaudi, William Christie), artists (Miquel Barcelo, Max), scientists, art specialists and historians and even a philosopher (Michel Onfray). Their words would be accompanied by varied (and original) music pieces or songs (Arvo Pärt, Bach, Verdi, but also Jacques Brel and Lana Del Rey). The daring project was okayed by the Prado and the other producers (including France's Stéphane Sorlat), which proved a right move, for the finished film does live up to its concept. Indeed however long "The Garden of Dreams" is and although it focuses on a single work, the viewer (informed naturally, but who chooses to watch such a film if they are not informed) is never bored. Exploring the painting in detail, all the more through the eyes of the brilliant commentators, is indeed an enlightening experience. What is Bosch's message when he paints such or such vignette ? Is this the fruit of the arbutus or only a symbol, or also a symbol ? How come this cloud of birds fly through a ring of stone? And why are these animals larger than the humans represented ? Etc, etc. The questioning is endless and despite the various - and varied - explanations or mere assumptions, mystery seems to add to mystery, which results in "The Garden of Dreams" being even more cryptic and enigmatic at the end of the projection than at the beginning. And which adds the film-produced fascination to that of the triptych itself. A rare experience indeed you'd better not miss out on.
- May 17, 2019
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