I, Claude Monet (2017)
Dir: Phil Grabsky | Doc | 85min | UK
I CLAUDE MONET brings the legendary French painter to life through a sumptuous video diary that often plays out like a tragedy in contrast to the resounding beauty of Monet’s work. Seen from the point of view of Monet himself, played in voiceover by Henry Goodman (Notting Hill), the documentary offers insight into how Monet’s destiny as a painter gradually materialised through the encouragement of his friend and mentor Boudin who emphasised the need to practise drawing. Against the moving collage of Monet’s paintings, we learn of his concurrent struggle to succeed and finance his life and honing his craft that later made him one of the most admired and successful artists of the 19th and 2oth century and the co-founder of Impressionism.
Behind his ethereal paintings and glamorous locations of Paris, Normandy, the Côte d’Azur and Venice, lies his real story story. That of a man who faced tragedy, and poverty, losing his first wife after the birth of their second child in 1880, when the family were forced out of their lodgings due to lack of money, not to mention a lack of professional support. I, CLAUDE MONET reveals the artist’s desperation and loneliness, his tremendous passion for life, but also his driven, often selfish, approach to work, putting his craft before his family, painting from early light until darkness, and often producing a prolific output of up to six canvasses a day, even when partially blind. When success eventually came, and he found happiness with his second wife Alice, a love of planting led to the magical gardens at Giverny which then became his focus in life and the subject matter for many of his most successful works.
Some of the paintings in I CLAUDE MONET are well known, but there are some lesser known canvasses – particularly those crafted in Bordighera in the mid 1880s and Venice in 1908, which show his extraordinary talent for capturing the light. The documentary covers Monet’s work from 1866 until his death in December 1926, when he was still painting, the need apparently flowing out of him from dawn ’til dusk, despite cataracts and ill health. Set to Stephen Baysted’s atmospheric score, this is an meditative, absorbing and often mesmerising film which will appeal to cineastes and art lovers alike with its alluring freshness and insight. MT
OUT ON 21 FEBRUARY 2017 I CLAUDE MONET IS PART OF THE EXHIBITION ON SCREEN SERIES, DEDICATED TO BRINGING WORLD-CLASS ART TO THE BIG SCREEN.