1997 [FRENCH]

Biography / Drama / History / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.7/10 10 2220 2.2K


Top cast

Sami Bouajila as Tassi's Assistant
Luca Zingaretti as Cosimo Quorli
852.63 MB
French 2.0
R on appea
25 fps
1 hr 36 min
Seeds 22

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jotix100 8 / 10

A woman ahead of her times

Artemisia Gentileschi, the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi, showed an early promise as a painter. Taught by her father, Artemisia was born in an era that denied talented women the right to have their work seen side by side art created by men. Her tragic life is chronicled in this biographic film directed and co-written by Agnes Merlet.

Having read the novel "The Passion of Artemisia" by Susan Vreeland, made us investigate more into the life of this woman, her work, and her legacy. We also read Mary Garrard's "Artemisia Gentileschi", which should be a must read book by all art lovers.

"Artemisia" presents the fictionalized facts we have read about showing the early life of the young woman as she starts to paint. She was clearly influenced by the work of her father, by Caravaggio, Agostino Tassi, and other Florentine painters of that period. Her relationship and love affair with Tassi is the basis of the film. Artemisia, unfortunately couldn't go as far as she could have because of the prejudice against women in the arts. It didn't help either she caused a scandal where she is accused of being raped by Tassi. She had to go to Rome in order to distance herself from that unhappy time of her life.

Valentina Cervi makes a beautiful Artemisia. She is a gorgeous creature who awakened passion in men. Michel Serrault plays Orazio, her father. Miki Maojlovic is seen as Tassi, the man who wanted Artemisia, but ended up in jail. Emmanuelle Devos appears for a moment.

The film has a glossy finish that the camera work of Benoit Delhomme captures in all its splendor. The scenic locales of the film offer an idea of what inspired that school of painting to show in their canvases. The music by Krishna Levy serves well what we see. Agnes Merlet directed with sure hand showing a visual style of her own.

Reviewed by ininotores 7 / 10

Good film but historically inaccurate

I'm normally a sucker for romantic films which are well-filmed and well-acted out. This is a romantic (period) film set in 17th-century Italy, but filmed in French with English subtitles. The fact that it is a period film means it will inevitably be slower-paced than films set in the modern day era, so it Will bore some. If you can overlook that fact, it is actually a really good film. The scenery, the costumes, and the cinematography are beautiful, and the main actors and actress are very compelling in their portrayals, projecting the intensity of the emotions that are running through the plot. The story is like a sad love story with an unhappy ending. Its easy to believe that this is an accurate portrayal of the real-life characters. In spite of the fact that I was really moved by the main characters and the storyline, I decided to check out the validity of the story and found out that the main theme of the movie's story - that of an sad unfinished love story - was completely fabricated.

In real life, Artemisia was raped by Tassi initially, rather than submitting to his advances willingly and passionately as the movie had portrayed. She continued to have sexual relations with him only because he had repeatedly promised to marry her. When they were in court, he had *not* admitted guilt of rape out of pity for Artemisia's torture (unlike what the movie portrays). In reality, he had tried to portray Artemisia as a loose, promiscuous woman with insatiable sexual urges. In the movie, his sister testified in court that Tassi had a wife and had sexual relations with his sister-in-law, and Tassi's character was all the while made to appear as if his sister had been slandering him regarding his alleged affair with his sister-in-law (although he admits to having had a wife back in Florence). Needless to say, in reality it wasn't really like that at all. In fact, far from it. Tassi was really responsible in the planned murder of his wife, whom he had begotten from rape. And to add to that, Tassi really had sexual relations with his sister-in-law, impregnating her in the process, but all this wasn't really mutual as well - again, he had raped his sister-in-law before.

So now we have a clear picture of the real Tassi as a multiple sex offender, what do we make of the film Artemisia's portrayal of him as a lover? We take it as an attempt to make this movie into a romantic film... that this film was never made to be historically accurate... Apart from these points just mentioned, there were other historical inaccuracies like in its interpretation of Artemisia's art (in real-life, she was never really influenced by Tassi's painting style, and she was actually considered a much better painter than Tassi ever was.) One thing remains true and its the fact that Artemisia Gentileschi has been credited as the first woman painter in history, and although her mastery of the art rivalled many of her male peers, she had always experienced difficulty in getting enough credit for her work because of her gender as a woman, in 17th century Italy.

Enjoy this film for its own sake, for it is a pretty good romantic drama, but take its historical references with a grain of salt.

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 6 / 10

In the service of a greater falsehood

Artemisia Gentileschi was not, contrary to the impression given by this film, the first woman to earn her living as a professional painter, but she is perhaps the earliest female painter who is still well-known. (Earlier female painters such as Sofonisba Anguissola and Fede Galizia are less widely remembered today). The daughter of another famous painter, Orazio Gentileschi, she was born in 1593 and probably died at some time during the 1650s. (The exact date of her death is not known, but it is known that she was still alive and working in her early sixties). The film is not a full biography of Artemisia, but rather concentrates upon the events of her late teens, especially the trial of the painter Agostino Tassi, who was convicted of raping her.

The film has many good points. The lovely Valentina Cervi, who plays Artemisia, makes a ravishing heroine. Like another recent film about a great 17th century artist, "Girl with a Pearl Earring", it is visually beautiful and tries to capture the look of the paintings of the era. Artemisia, like many Italian painters of the early 1600s, was greatly influenced by the example of Caravaggio, especially his use of chiaroscuro, the contrast of light and dark, in order to heighten a picture's visual, dramatic and emotional impact. Some of the interior scenes in the film are clearly intended to imitate this style of painting, but director Agnes Merlet also seems to have been influenced by other artists and other artistic genres of the period, notably its still lives and landscapes. The scenes by the coast seem to have been modelled upon 17th century Dutch seascapes.

Like a number of other reviewers, however, I was disturbed by the way in which the film dealt with the facts of Artemisia's life. Now it is common for films about real historical events to take liberties with the truth, and the result is not automatically a bad or dishonest film. "Girl with a Pearl Earring", for example, which I consider to be one of the greatest films of the current decade, introduces an entirely fictitious episode into the life of a real historical figure, the painter Vermeer. It does so, however, in the service of a greater truth, in order to make some important points about artistic creativity, about social class and about friendship between men and women.

"Artemisia", by contrast, distorts the facts of its subject's life in the service of a greater falsehood. In real life Tassi was a despicable character who attempted to kill his wife, committed incest with his sister-in-law and raped a number of women; he was undoubtedly guilty of the rape of Artemisia. In the film, however, he and Artemisia are lovers, and the sex between them is purely consensual. Tassi is depicted as the victim of false accusations brought by Artemisia's father. Although Orazio loves Artemisia, and encourages her in her career, he is played by Michel Serrault as over-protective, unable to accept that his daughter could have lost her virginity voluntarily. In reality Orazio was in his late forties at the time of the events portrayed, but Serrault was nearly seventy when the film was made, a piece of casting doubtless intended to emphasise the generation gap between the passionate young woman and her puritanical old father. We also see Artemisia's famous painting of Judith decapitating Holofernes, which in reality was not painted until after Tassi's trial. Indeed, some commentators have seen this painting as representing her psychological revenge on Tassi, although it should be pointed out that this was a common subject in Italian painting at this period; both Caravaggio and Artemisia's older contemporary Galizia painted versions.

Why, I found myself wondering, did Merlet take so many liberties with history? I think that the answer was not, as some have assumed, because she simply wanted to make a soft porn film, but because she wanted to make Artemisia, who seems obsessed with drawing pictures of male genitalia, into a sexually liberated feminist heroine. The problem is that the concept of "sexual liberation" is a late twentieth century one and that it is an anachronism to introduce it into a film set in the early seventeenth century, a period when there were no reliable methods of contraception and when ideas about female honour and chastity were very different to those of today. In other respects, especially in her willingness to challenge the idea that art was an exclusively male calling, Artemisia Gentileschi can be seen as a proto-feminist, but this does not mean that it is right to see her as a woman of the 1990s transported back in time. Moreover, what sort of feminism is it which portrays as a tender lover a man who in reality was a brutal rapist? 6/10

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