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The Arts on Film

Behind the canvas with a movie camera: you can almost smell the turpentine in these fascinating portraits of artists at work.

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," so it's said. So what about filming about art? Whatever the challenges, filmmakers have never been deterred from exploring other media in film - and for that we should give thanks. These films give us an often unique record of the artist - dancer or architect, painter or sculptor, musician, novelist or poet - at work and at leisure. They present artists speaking lucidly about their work. They preserve performances otherwise lost forever. And, perhaps best of all, they take us inside the creative process, allowing us to witness works of art emerging before our eyes.

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Caravaggio
Caravaggio
Rent for £3.50

Caravaggio

Biopic198693 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman’s unique biopic of the 17th century Italian artist Michelangelo da Caravaggio is a powerful meditation on sexuality, criminality and art.

Mr. Turner
Mr. Turner
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Mr. Turner

Biopic2014150 minsDirector: Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s Cannes-winning account of the later years of J. M. W. Turner, brilliantly played by Timothy Spall.

Lives of Artists Not Wives of Artists
Lives of Artists Not Wives of Artists
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Lives of Artists Not Wives of Artists

Campaigning film198446 minsDirector: Sue Aron

Five women artists, including Paula Rego, contest the "hierarchy of art forms" in the male-dominated art world.

National Gallery
National Gallery
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National Gallery

Documentary2014181 minsDirector: Frederick Wiseman

The inner workings of London’s National Gallery are laid bare in this absorbing, forensic examination by revered filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.

Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon
Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon
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Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

Biopic199887 minsDirector: John Maybury

Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig star as artist Francis Bacon and his muse George Dyer in John Maybury’s darkly exquisite biopic.

The Angelic Conversation
The Angelic Conversation
Rent for £2.50

The Angelic Conversation

Animation & Artists Moving Image198581 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

The Angelic Conversation sees Derek Jarman conjure an evocative and radical visualisation of Shakespeare’s love poems. With narration by Judi Dench and music by Coil.

Derek Jarman: Life As Art
Derek Jarman: Life As Art
Currently unavailable

Derek Jarman: Life As Art

Documentary200460 minsDirector: Andy Kimpton-Nye

Documentary on the life and work of experimental filmmaker, who died in 1994. Contributors including Tilda Swinton recall Jarman's peculiar genius.

Poem
Poem
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Poem

Animation & Artists Moving Image19711 minsDirector: B.S. Johnson

A poignant short film set to the fourth part of Samuel Beckett's Quatre Poèmes, as narrated by frequent BS Johnson collaborator William Hoyland.

Grantchester
Grantchester
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Grantchester

Documentary195815 minsDirector: John R.F. Stewart

Rupert Brooke's poem 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester' is given the pop video treatment.

Loving Vincent
Loving Vincent
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Loving Vincent

Biopic201795 minsDirector: Hugh Welchman

The first ever fully painted feature film takes us through the last days of Vincent van Gogh.

Mark of the Hand Aubrey Williams
Mark of the Hand  Aubrey Williams
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Mark of the Hand Aubrey Williams

Documentary198753 minsSilentDirector: Imruh Caesar

The Guyanese painter returns to his homeland on a “journey to the source of his inspiration”.

The Space in Between – Marina Abramović and Brazil
The Space in Between – Marina Abramović and Brazil
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The Space in Between – Marina Abramović and Brazil

Documentary201688 minsDirector: Marco Del Fiol

A bold and unsettling mystical voyage in the company of the fearless Serbian artist, as she travels Brazil in search of spiritual healing.

Mona Lisa from The Arts on Film

More Arts on Film in our Free collection.