Paris, the Luminous Years

PARIS, 12 DECEMBER 2010 — Paris, the Luminous Years, to be shown on PBS television across the United States as of 15 December (check local listings), is a first-rate documentary film on the ‘City of Light’. Perry Miller Adato’s love for Paris shines out not only in her thoughtful exploration of the role played by the French city in the creation of the arts during the early twentieth century (1905 -1930), but also in her portrayal of the city of today. Supported by excellent archival footage, she lets the artists themselves tell the story of Paris as the magnet which drew together all the greatest talents of the time in music, painting, sculpture, dance and literature. The film concentrates on an international group, which includes Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Josephine Baker, Marcel Duchamp, Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, Vaslav Nijinsky, Sylvia Beach and Gertrude Stein, among many others.

The French capital provided unique access to courageous art dealers who bought and dared to show the work of the avant-garde painters and sculptors, and interviews with such delightful artists as Marc Chagall are interspersed with throw-away comments, informing the viewer that Juan Gris was a draft dodger in Spain. On a more serious level, Miller has dealt intelligently with both the Dada and the Cubist movement, the former being a rebellious upsurge of rage against the war, born in a Swiss cabaret, which few of us actually understand. It was, it is pointed out, the "absurdity of an imbecilic war" which gave people like Francis Picabia and Max Ernst the right to break all rules and to attack all art, past and present.

The Cubist movement is dealt with more gently, with "Mr. Braque, a daring young man, reducing everything to little cubes…. and hammering out cubism in an upstairs room with Picasso"....

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