Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi - star of the landmark television series “I, Claudius” - this documentary explores art and culture around the Bay of Naples before Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 ad. The bay was then the most fashionable destination for vacationing Romans. Julius Caesar, emperors, and senators were among those who owned sumptuous villas along its shores. Artists flocked to the region to create frescoes, sculpture, and luxurious objects in gold, silver, and glass for villa owners as well as residents of Pompeii and other towns in the shadow of Vesuvius. The film concludes with the story of the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the 18th century onward.
Catalog Number: MC-869
Genre: Art / Artist
DVD Region: All regions
TV System: NTSC
Label: National Gallery of Art, Washington
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2009-05-21Educational Media Reviews Online By Susan Awe
Expertly narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, this documentary is a wonderful visual experience. The film, made in conjunction with a National Gallery of Art exhibition of over 100 items excavated from Pompeii and the surrounding Italian countryside, explores the sensational art and culture centered on the Bay of Naples, before Mount Vesuvius erupted August 24, 79 AD. The shores of the Bay were where the Romans owned lavish villas and vacationed, and sweeping vistas of the Bay are included. Outstanding photography showcases the classical bronze and marble sculptures, the colorful frescoes and mosaics, and exquisite gold jewelry found in excavating Pompeii. The art illustrates the influence of Classical Greece on Roman art. The film focuses on a portrait of the general area and concludes with the story of the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the 18th century onward. Extras provided on the DVD include 19th Century photographs of Giorgio Sommer, a photo gallery from the film shoot, and interviews with Italian archaeologists.
Video techniques and effects are well planned and executed. Editing of the scenes of Pompeii now and short films of Vesuvius erupting in other eras and in film clips from “Spartacus” and the “Last Days of Pompeii” is judicious and effective. This DVD is suitable for teenagers and adults of all ages. Academic libraries will want to provide for their Roman history, art and art education classes.
2009-02-11Video Librarian By F. Swietek
Made in conjunction with a National Gallery of Art exhibition of over 100 items excavated from Pompeii and the surrounding Italian countryside, this half-hour documentary—narrated by Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius)—offers a brief introduction to Roman life circa 79 C.E., when Pompeii, Herculaneum, and smaller neighboring settlements near the Bay of Naples were destroyed during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The natural disaster preserved many artifacts intact beneath the ash, including the meticulously restored sculptures, paintings, and mosaics featured in the NGA’s exhibit. Although Pompeii and the Roman Villa takes a loving look at a handful of these items, the focus here is more on providing a general portrait of the area, employing travelogue-like footage of the architectural ruins, together with archival stills, modern artwork, and even film clips from Spartacus and The Last Days of Pompeii to suggest how the region might have appeared before the catastrophic eruption. In addition, the film provides a historical sketch of excavations over the past three centuries, starting with those underwritten by the Bourbon rulers of Naples in the 18th century and continuing up to the present, while also presenting observations on the effect these discoveries have had on European culture. DVD extras include a gallery of artworks in the exhibition, a series of 19th-century photographs of the ruins, and brief interviews with archeologists. Recommended.
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