Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Tim’s Vermeer – 2014

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Johannes Vermeer is one of the most mysterious artists of all time. His works are spectacular and overall, they exhibit avant-garde techniques and styles like no other. The fascinating documentary of 2013/14 “Tim’s Vermeer” is one that not only explores the mysterious artist as a person, but his techniques, tools and methodology in full. For an ambitious exercise to undertake, “Tim’s Vermeer” stands well above the rest.

Tim Jenison is a computer software designer who has made a fair amount of money over his career.
Technologically equipped, his artistic abilities are lacking, almost completely. Tim was fascinated in the works of Vermeer, an artist whose records seem to be non-existent. All the world knows about Johannes Vermeer is through his mesmerising artworks and various snippets of information.
When it comes to his techniques and/or artistic aids, there is nothing. Jenison’s fascination with Vermeer lead him to undertake a challenge of replicating “Music Lesson”, one of his most famous pieces entirely from scratch.
With exploration into various technological inventions such as the camera obscura and the way that reflection, light and image are incorporated, Jenison’s theories, questions and inventions all come into play when he undertakes the seemingly impossible.
screen_shot_2013-12-03_at_1.39.18_pmJenison wonders whether the use of mirrors at certain angles allowed Vermeer to precisely capture exactly what he was painting in explicit detail.
The stunning levels of verisimilitude within the works of Vermeer were captivating, never-before-seen and truly astounding. Vermeer was said to have ‘painted with light’ – whatever that means.
This ‘style’ was one of the driving forces for Jenison’s curiosity, and it sparks numerous questions and theories surrounding the enigmatic artist.
The premise for the documentary is enthralling; a software designer with absolutely no experience in painting attempts to replicate a Vermeer down to the finest detail with use of an invention he suspected may have been used during the time.
Let’s just say, the results are staggering…

The process is not as simple as tracing a print of the original. The replica is set to be identical, down to the most minuscule of detail as the original, which means literally recreating the room in which it was created.
Jenison finds a room that is facing north and constructs a room that is identical in every possible measurement to Vermeer’s studio and proceeds to create the image once again.
The gruelling process takes over a year and we accompany Jenison on his incredible journey.
Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.01.53 pmWhat works so well about “Tim’s Vermeer” is how well it expires the nonsensical great divide between art and science.
Ultimately, the documentary shows that they are one in the same and are utilised equally whenever something is created. The journey is emotional and testing, but at the end of it all, it is rewarding beyond belief.
The interviews with various experts and friends provide an excellent backstory for Jenison and in doing so, furthers the connection between the audience and Jenison, plus the connection between Jenison and the task at hand.

“Tim’s Vermeer” has proven to be one of 2014’s most fascinating and entertaining documentaries. With one of the most original premises is a while, the simple story of desperation and dedication is heartwarming, intriguing and emotional.
This is a real insight into the technological side of artistry, but then again, it’s the same thing after all.

4.5/5

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