FILM REVIEW REMBRANDT (15) 103 mins .00
French director Charles Matton's visually masterful film scooped the prize for art direction and set decoration at last year‘s Cesar Awards (the French equivalent to the Academy AwardS). With its meticulous recreation of 17th century Holland and hired painters employed to mimic Rembrandt‘s most famous paintings, it's not hard to see why.
Matton‘s biopic is as much an introduction to the work of the Dutch master as it is a revelation of his personal life. Heading an international cast. award- winning Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer plays the title role. portraying Rembrandt's successes. loves and losses through a pictorial chronology of his life. His early. fortuitous career as the leading portrait painter in Holland is well documented. as the film brings to life some of Rembrandt's most famous paintings. But here. Matton goes one further. Rather than just reproduce Rembrandt's masterpieces. the works bear resemblance to the actors rather than the originals.
On a more personal level, the scenes with his first wife Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) reveal a warm and loving relationship. But it was a relationship dogged by bitter personal tragedy. The pain of losing three children during infancy before the birth of their only son Titus and the ensuing death of Saskia. is incredibly moving. Details of his subsequent relationship with nursemaid nursemaid Geertje Dircx (Caroline van Houten) with whom he promised to marry is disappointingly sketchy, as the film favours Rembrandt's controversial affair with the young servant girl Hendrickje Stoffels (Romane Bohringer).
Rembrandt never really conformed and it was this non-conformity. coupled with personal tragedy which led to his ultimate demise. Rembrandt may well provoke heated debate among art historians for its accuracy. but for what Matton set out to achieve. this fine-looking, well-acted film creates a fascinating celluloid account of the great master's art.
(Helen Monaghan) I Rembrandt is screened at the Lumiere, Edinburgh from Sat 9 Jun.
12 THE LIST 7—21 Jun 2001
sliver that is Calista Flockhart is a short-sighted one. because it ignores the fact that even (‘alista can't win. Her body shape comes in for just as much frenzied attention. analysis and abuse as that of Dawn French. Vanessa Feltz. Pamela Anderson or Jennifer Aniston. No matter what form they take or how they feel about it. none of these women is accepted as she is.
Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears are far more potent sex symbols and cultural icons than Calista lilockhart. and neither is a willowy waif. But what does this tell us‘.’ Not that big bums are best: nor that the world has finally become broad-minded enough to accept women in all our many shapes and sizes. Rather. it tells us that regardless of the realities of attraction and sexuality. we are all supposed to be miserable. Whatever we look like to begin with. we‘re all meant to be aiming for
something unattainable. A Lopez ass. a rack of
Kate Moss ribs or — ideally and impossibly — both at once.
Thus the markets for Slimfast shakes. breast implants. control-top tights and fashion magazines are sustained. It‘s not about feeling too fat or too thin: it's just about always feeling wrong. never being comfonable. Look at Geri Halliwell (go on. she really wants you to). The press sneered at her back when she looked like she was luxuriating in her own looks. but as soon as she pummelled her own flesh into sinewy submission. she became a star again. It wasn‘t her size they couldn‘t forgive. but her air of self-satisfaction. They want effort. suffering. diets. stitches and stomach crunches. That‘s where the Rembrandt women triumph: they look contented. comfortable. confident and loved.
It‘s difficult to imagine a size eighteen woman of today posing with the lush abandonment of Geertje Dircz in A Woman In Bed. c.1645
The dearth of such honest and relaxed images of the female body in our own media-saturated society becomes apparent when we strive to establish a tnodern equivalent. Tracey limin‘s dirty pants might approximate the same shock value. but let's face it. they lack the artistry. (‘orinne Day’s photographs of the scrubbed. scrawny. teenage Kate Moss have the same unpolished rawness. but none of the voluptuousness.
Such eroticism is the exclusive preserve of
Had Demi Moore dared to expose the dimpling, stretching and scarring glimpsed on Rembrandt’s canvases, she would probably have been burned as a witch.
plucked. primped and thoroughly unrepresentative supermodels and IVHM babes. liqually flat. glossy and glamorous are (iary Hume's images of celebrities like Patsy Kensit and — once again. Kate Moss — portraits that are blankly iconic without being remotely emotional. For the nearest physical parallel to Rembrandt's vision. we may have to turn to the work of another celebrated self— portraitist. Jenny Saville.
Yet there's little that's seiisuous or celebratory about Saville’s nudes. with their mottled flesh and accusatory stares: they are generally construed as negative images. totems of self-loathing. In this context. anbnmr/l's‘ Women may offer more than enigmatic looks. fulsome curves and dazzling price tags. They might just have a wholly contemporary message for us all.
Rembrandt’s Women is at National Gallery Of Scotland, Edinburgh, Fri 8 Jun-Sun 2 Sep.