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Garden of Earthly Delights [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 53 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A delightful vision 18 Aug 2008
By Mary M - Published on
Format: DVD
I really enjoyed this film, not only because of its unique presentation of the beautiful, eerie city of Venice, but also because of Lech Majewski's (he wrote, directed and filmed it) quite sensuous, mischievious, philosophical, and lovely treatment of love and death.

Its the story of a lovely, intelligent art historian and her lover, an engineer, who move to Venice in the last year of her life. She has a penchant for the artist Bosch, and the two of them meditate on, learn from, and attempt to physically re-create some of the important scenes from his famous and symbolically bizarre paintings.

The music (also created by Majewski) adds a poignant and dreamy touch; the hand-held camera work is later explicated by the director himself in the "Extras" on the disc.

To me, it was a very accessible 'art' film which never dragged, and, indeed, left me with a peaceful, almost nostalgic afterglow.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Kaleidoscope 12 Jan 2013
By Michael - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As with another film I reviewed once upon a time, The Garden of Earthly Delights is also for acquired tastes.
How do you render palatable the brevity, mystery, uncertainty and yes, wonder of life and its discontents? A precarious task at best and not for everyone.
I would say this: if you'd prefer an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians over reading, let's say, Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections, I'm going to guess this may not be for you. But who knows?

This film skillfully uses a handheld camera which seems forever on uneven ground, a co-star who plays the boyfriend and is suppose to be doing most of the filming but seems more a distant observer in many of the scenes than a connected lover, and the city of Venice which is not only beautiful but symbolic of fluidity, the ever-changing landscape of life.
Juxtaposed within all this is a sensually tragic art historian played by Claudine Spiteri.

(The art museum, in contrast to the fluid world of the Venice waterways, the scattering flocks of birds and the hauntingly ethereal music, the art museum like all museums is a space deliberately set aside by society to suspend time, as it were, to preserve eternity (relatively speaking) embodied in the works of artists throughout history)

This art historian has a particular interest in the iconoclastic works of the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), especially his classic The Garden of Earthly Delights painted when Bosch was around forty-five year old, and she attempts to recreate some of the scenes from his paintings with her boyfriend.
Questions abound: Does she seek to connect her own fleeting existence with the themes of the painter's work which may stand for centuries, or, does she see in the paintings evidence not simply of a painter, but of an alchemist who, in transcending the material world through his creative vision, also allows for the transformation of the temporal into the immortal?

Bosch's work doesn't lend itself to easy interpretation, and rather like a dream, or the preverbal ink blots of a psychological evaluation, or this film, his paintings provide a medium within which we project our own idiosyncratic vision of life. In fact, his work often looks like a dream, or a prelude to Surrealism or Dali's hallucinatory vision.

And what of the art historian's lover? The man with the camera, frantically seeking to capture her on film, who is both intimate and overtly intrusive at times? We can't be sure if his "otherness" is due to his intuitive or eventual knowledge of their ill-fated relationship, or if this attempt to freeze life on film, to make it more real than reality as he says at one point, timeless even, is simply a reflection of his personality.

Boyfriend turns out to be an engineer who seeks to understand and work with order, the order of things, particularly as it relates to the design of boats.
Order - the discovery (or is it the creation) of meaningful structures, exists side by side with the ongoing decay of order: the entire dance of the universe, of creation and destruction and creation and destruction; Shiva's fingerprints, ad infinitum. The film excels in positioning the seeking of order along side of its inevitable collapse.

Our art historian is frightened, evidence of illness abounds, and her panic only thinly disguised in the context of play and the recreation of Boschian scenes. As her boyfriend films her she wonders how a picture can be more permanent than a body - a picture is but a trace, not a true life... right?

Like a Bosch painting, this movie is a kaleidoscope of possible meanings and rather than reducing the story to a simple both-meets-girl who is ill, the elements of the film conspire to take you into their world, rattle you, and leave you with more questions than answers.

The Garden of Eathly Delights is a complex and beautifully disturbing meditation on the eternal dialectic between life and death, love and loss, and the forever heroic attempt mortals make to add to the ongoing dance by creating something new, even if just for a moment.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and unexpected 6 Oct 2012
By Watching - Published on
This film treated Venice as a never-still delightful background for a love and death story that will appeal to all art lovers. Few of this type of film are available and when we who love them find them we are over the moon. It leaves us thinking about the nature of life and love and art and how there is little fairness in any of it. Please do not watch it if you are looking for the regular film. We all need to learn the sense of play again from it.....
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Difficult, honest, moving 26 April 2014
By Haldor Asgirson - Published on
I watched this streaming on my DVD player and there was no summary. That means I knew nothing of the story going in. At first it was interesting, but strange. Claudine seemed severe and obsessed. Gradually the story unfolded to me and I became unable to look away, even as it became more and more painful to watch. I fell in love with both of the characters as what they had together gradually drained away.

I lost my 19 year old son last year and it felt like I was the only person in the world to feel such torment and bewilderment. In some strange way this movie touched me in ways I have not been touched since my son's death.

Thank you to the maker for touching something real.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Hopeless Death in Venice 12 Aug 2013
By Cornelio - Published on
Verified Purchase
He records everything with his camera. She is an Art Historian interpreting Boschs' Garden of Earthly Delights painting.He morns the fact that there are too many people on earth. They have vacant unproductive sex, no children or thought of any other reality. Not surprisingly she interprets Bosch in a way that she concludes that we ourselves make paradise here on earth by being unrestrained in pleasures. She misses the larger cosmology of the painter based on Dante's Inferno and Paradiso.So of course her death is recorded with all due coarseness, grainy and hand held and utterly without meaning, a hopeless death in Venice.
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