I went to the see film on Joseph Mallord William Turner … being aware from the reviews that the film had divided the journalists as well as the experts …
… and one commenter, Helen, on my previous post, who is an artist, had heard from friends of hers that the film was ‘odd’ … so I was forewarned … and when I attended the cinema audience confirmed this … there were mutterings!
I still suggest you see the film … but as Helen mentioned apparently my post brought aspects of Turner’s life to her attention, which she hadn’t realised in the film.
|Margate clock tower and sands
First I’d suggest you read both posts … the background, then the insights you read here and check out any of the links I’ve given below.
The film covers the last 25 years of Turner’s life … so he’s established, but has an irascible camaraderie with the academicians of his day – he divides them too …
Our first encounter is with a former prostitute and Turner’s two daughters … all of whom he disdains/disowns too, and has no interest in whatsoever …
|Haydon's portrait of
William Wordsworth (1842)
We come across another academician, who is his own worst enemy – Benjamin Haydon, the landscape painter, more can be found in the link, as the story line features in the film.
I’m glad I mentioned Mary Somerville in my previous post – she does feature in the film …
Turner’s visits to Margate are shown … and it is here he develops the only loving relationship he appears to have had throughout his life: with Mrs Booth, his landlady in Margate. She buys a house in Chelsea, and Turner mostly moves in too … distressing enormously Hannah his faithful housekeeper at the other house.
|Dido Elizabeth Belle - the character
which inspired the film "Belle"
We also see Turner ‘behaving badly’ … he drank to cover his shakes from Parkinson’s, his sight affected his behaviour socially, as well as his palette …
|The Slave Ship: Turner's representation of
the mass murder of slaves, inspired by the Zong killings
Mike Leigh, the director, portrays his films in an instantly recognisable reality with a raw, utterly compromising intensity … films you may recognise are “Secrets and Lies” (1996), “Topsy-Turvy” (1999) and “Vera Drake” (2004).
Leigh felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world.
|The Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth:
Turner's, aged 15, first work accepted
by the Royal Academy in 1790
The film was acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival ... but I am glad I wrote both these blog posts – as a non-art historian with little knowledge … I’ve learnt here and may well go and see the film again with a greater understanding.
Turner must have been pretty non-communicative a great deal of the time … Spall portrays him as mono-syllabic, shambolic, hungry for an understanding of the world around him … a man not revealing his thoughts … yet he was very competitive and thus innovative for a man of his times.
I hope you get to see the film – it is really worth it … we also get to see what life might well have been like only 170 years ago … enjoy … both films are well worth seeing!
Helen Tilston, Painter: - a blogger and commenter on my previous post on Turner
Mr Turner (film) – Wikipedia’s entry
Benjamin Haydon, the landscape artist
My first post: Turner, the Tate, Art and Science, “Mr Turner”
Belle (2013 film) – should you wish to look, and another very good film about life 210 years ago …
The Daily Mail article on Belle: and how a portrait with amystery lady inspired Belle – the film
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