Rain, steam, speed, high seas, raging storms, blazing skies: JMW Turner is surely our most cinematic painter. This tasteful and absorbing documentary alternates verbal passages, in which Michael Hordern reads contemporaries' recollections of Turner the man, with purely visual ones in which the camera prowls his paintings to the strains of Elisabeth Lutyens' commanding score, brooding and soaring by turns.
Avoiding the presenter or authoritative commentary that would have been usual in TV arts coverage, this which was intended for 16mm distribution rather than broadcasting, and takes a more sensual, impressionistic approach in keeping with Turners' English romanticism. It formed part of a large catalogue of documentaries on fine artists sponsored by the Arts Council.
A number of these were directed by David Thompson at the companies Samaritan Films and Balfour Films, owned by Anne Balfour-Fraser. She was Lutyens' cousin, incidentally; a respected modern classical composer, Lutyens frequently produced original scores both for short films and features - including Hammer horrors.