El Greco the film
The film is considered to be a real art form in more ways than one as art is obviously part of the whole setup of film. Films about artists are also important parts of the whole genre and the one which we will be discussing is El Greco, a recent film which also has music by Vangelis as its soundtrack. El Greco was a great Spanish artist who lived in the 16th century and who bequeathed Spain with a large number of important artistic works.
The film focuses intrinsically on the painter’s life as well as on other matters which develop accordingly and which show the artist’s prowess and capability to paint large canvases almost effortlessly and without much trouble. He originally came from Crete and was also an artist of immense repute in more ways than one and among his works one must focus on the subtle use of colours and dark effects. The film is generally effective as it creates a sense of holiness and intrinsic beauty in all its parts and the artistic theme is never far away.
The painting which will be considered here is Portrait of an Old Man where El greco comes up with a strikingly real life image of the man in question which can even be said to be himself. The dark lines of the portrait demonstrate the intrinsic hues and glows with which El Greco’s paintings are informed and the sense of emptiness and hollowness is never so far away.
El Greco is also portrayed as a rather restless character in the film as he appears to get himself into trouble quite regularly, in fact he is actually imprisoned and awaits torture at the hands of the inquisition on many occasions. Naturally enough the film also focuses extensively on his considerable contribution as an artist and also on his focus with regard to several paintings which appear to have a number of foibles and fascinations about them.
In ‘The Dormition of the Virgin’ which is also briefly referred to in the film, El Greco creates a sense of occasion and nobility in his portrayal of this important Biblical episode. Notwithstanding all this, the painting comes across as startlingly lifelike and full of intriguing mannerisms which convey a sense of superb occasion as well as deep inner thoughts. His use of colours is rather sparse and also very intriguing although one must add that his originality is also called into question many a time here.
Another important painting which is referred to in the film is an early portrait of Giorgio Giulio Clovo who was one of the artist’s earliest supporters apart from also being a rather intriguing subject for portraiture. Here again the solemn and noble expression of the subject is rather typical of El Greco who actually also includes some intriguing elements such as the window with flowers in the background and the book being read by the subject.
El Greco’s style is not always discussed at length in the film but we do know that he was probably one of the finest exponents of portraiture and in this regard he is also extremely strong and focused. The film continues to focus on certain elements of his character which include his strength as an artist of darkness as well as his intrinsic capability to shock and create sensationalism. Although El Greco came from Crete, he quickly managed to assimilate himself into the whole artistic world of Spain quite intriguingly and was also very much an avante gardist in this regard.
One cannot discount El Greco’s contribution to art in general as he was truly one of the most important figures in the Renaissance. His incredible sense of occasion and fascinating portraiture is indeed well portrayed in the film which bears his name and as such everything moves forward with remarkable momentum and interest. It is truly an important film which demonstrates how art and artists in general develop and demonstrate the importance of creating their own intrinsic personal identity. El Greco is most definitely a case in point in this regard.
El Greco is an artist of supreme importance in the whole artistic canon but especially in that dealing with the Renaissance and its particular foibles. His contribution to the genre of art cannot be assessed immediately but this fine film makes a great effort in doing so. Notwithstanding certain production techniques which might perhaps appear slightly strange, the film succeeds excellently in portraying the nature and character of the artist who was truly one of the most brilliant of his age. The film ‘El Greco’ is surely an important part of artistic proceedings and should be given its due credit. One must also observe that art and artists in general certainly make excellent subject matter for films and all this comes together accordingly in the movie El Greco which is a must see both for those who are interested in art as a genre but also those who wish to learn more.
El Greco – Movie excerpt; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqsLxYwZDI8
J. Brown, El Greco of Toledo, 75–77
"Greco, El". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2002.
M. Lambraki-Plaka, El Greco—The Greek, 60
M. Scholz-Hansel, El Greco, 7*"Theotocópoulos, Doménicos". Encyclopaedia The Helios. 1952.