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Model For Matisse (2005)  

Review: written 26th May 2007

Intimate story of the Master of Light

This documentary is quite full summed up in the title. Although written, remembered and told from the perspective of Sister Jacques-Marie, the subject is of course the creation of the wonderful Chapel of Vence by Matisse.

The burgeoning friendship that grew between the nun and Matisse is interesting, if not quite fascinating, and told in a very understated way by the Sister herself. Most of the film is therefore in French, with subtitles. However, the interest really picks up when she talks about his art, and most especially the creation of the chapel itself. Matisse saw through every aspect of its creation, and it is fascinating to learn of his intended effect with the details which Sister Jacques-Marie mentions. The anemone flowers inspiring the shape of the candlesticks, designing even the priests vestments, the prickly-pear flower motif on the stained glass window - and most especially the light.

Matisse was all about the colour and light - the lines and shapes were often simple - but the combined effect of the light and colours is inspired. There is a moment when through a stained glass window in only three colours, a myriad of colours is shown in an ever changing pattern on the floor of the chapel. It makes the whole documentary worth watching to see this glorious effect.

This movie is shot in a very simple talking heads style, and gains no plaudits for inventive film-making or incisive interviewing, but is worth watching as a highly interesting account of an intimate story and the mind behind the artist.

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