The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0393 Wednesday, 11 February 2004
Date: Tuesday, 10 Feb 2004 22:02:00 -0500
Subject: 'Godfathers of the Renaissance'
The website is at http://www.pbs.org/empires/medici/
One can order the DVD now for 25.00 plus shipping.
They also carry a DVD of a TV biopic about Leonardo da Vinci directed by
TV Review | 'Godfathers of the Renaissance': Medicis as Mafia: Fanciful
View of the 15th Century
February 11, 2004
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
A clue that Botticelli was too daring in his depiction of earthly
pleasures comes as the camera pans down the long white torso in his
painting "The Birth of Venus" and stops at the goddess's loins.
Whiz thwack. Whiz thwack. Whiz thwack.
The sound of a whip leads to a shot of a bloodied, bare-chested monk
flagellating himself in his cell. Whiz thwack. It seems that the
artistic freedom sponsored by Lorenzo de' Medici, the great patron of
the Italian Renaissance, has met its match.
"One man believed that Lorenzo was leading the city on a decadent path
to destruction," the narrator warns in the ominous tones of a "Scream
III" movie trailer. "A Dominican monk by the name of Savonarola."
"The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance," a four-part look at the
rise and fall of the Florentine dynasty that begins tonight on PBS, is
an unabashedly vulgar, middle-brow gallop through one of the most
important periods of Western civilization. As the title suggests, the
documentary constantly likens the Medici to the Mafia. (The PBS Web
site, pbs.org, is even more shameless, referring to the dynasty as a
"crime family" and putting their biographies on "rap sheets" that
include mug shots and aliases of each "Capo." Cosimo de' Medici, for
example, is listed as "a k a Il Vecchio, the elder.")
The series looks less like PBS than the History Channel, more like
Francis Ford Coppola than Kenneth Clark. Purists may want to apply
Savonarola's whip to the backs of the PBS executives who decided to
dummy down a public television documentary while so many commercial
networks ignore history or distort it beyond recognition. . . .
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