71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sewell
As much as many people find Brian Sewell to be insufferably pompous, he comes into his own when the subject matter fires his imagination, and for all Italophiles this should be on their Christmas list. Brian takes the viewer on a splendid tour of the peninsula aboard his left-hand-drive Mercedes, stopping to ruminate on the worthy artistic, cultural and architectural...
Published on 17 Nov 2006 by N. Clarke
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in the extreme............
This is the first time I have ever written a negative review but I have to say that I have got the impression that If you don't agree with
Brian Sewell, you'll be heading for Purgatory until you agree with him (perhaps I should refer to Mr. Sewell as 'Him' and not 'him'.
If you don't agree that TV producers are intrusive and manipulative on behalf of the...
Published 1 month ago by alanscape
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sewell,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)As much as many people find Brian Sewell to be insufferably pompous, he comes into his own when the subject matter fires his imagination, and for all Italophiles this should be on their Christmas list. Brian takes the viewer on a splendid tour of the peninsula aboard his left-hand-drive Mercedes, stopping to ruminate on the worthy artistic, cultural and architectural aspects of the country, while frequently underlining the more base motives of 18th-century Grand Tourists - sex, drink, and gambling.
Added to the marvellous recollections, interpreted with impish vigour by Brian, are his own observations on the body beautiful, and how Italian art's seemingly pious veneer conceals a perennial obsession with the flesh. Italian history has never seemed such fun.
79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Educational,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)Hot on the heels of his nude rush into the Spanish sea at the end of The Naked Pilgrim and unashamedly elitist as ever, here is Brian Sewell's second televison series.
He, in the last programme of his Grand Tour, refuses to participate in the frivolities of a recreated 'masked ball'. This is no aristocratic romp but a party open to the masses, the only requirement needed to go through the doors being the right number of Euros. He longs for the real thing - he imagines aristocrats flirting, perhaps guffaws of drunken laughter, the fondling of breasts, the rubbing of knees under the table. But none of this is to be found - just fakes, people dressing up in costumes and not knowing how to behave.
Then we find him in a Venetian cafe, tearfully recounting his thoughts about the present, his past and their past, as he elegantly sips on his 'Italian style' hot chocolate. In another scene he is at the dinner table in a restaurant, so bored with Italian food that he finds it hard to find something on the menu that he fanices, that isn't 'that round thing' (pizza). He orders the salad of pork fat, and expresses concerns about what it might do to his already strained arteries. He sips the red wine and then pulls a funny face of vague disgust. He is indeed an interesting character, and is of course, in Italy, right on his home turf. A lifetime spent studying the great Italian Masters lends a very considerable intellectual weight to the series. He describes things calmly and with great expertise - Correggio (unjustly neglected today), Michelangelo, Raphael and the rest of the gang. Sewell is someone we don't find on television 'anymore' - he is both too intellectual, too stuck-up and yet too lubricious, too much fun for our safe, santitized modern world. And yet, here he is.
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force from the grand Brian Sewell!,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)If only more people were like Brian Sewell then the world would be a finer place. This DVD, the follow-up to his erudite 'Naked Pigrim', shows Brian doing what he does best. Passionate and damning about his subjects combined with a lusty appreciation of the sexual appetites and mores of the eighteenth century Grand Tourists, Brian fires up the Mercedes one more time for a trip around Italy once seen as a huge museum of Western Culture.
This is a 2 CD set, much longer than The Naked Pilgrim which means more classic Sewell rumination and even more shots of his wonderful white umbrella.
Go on, treat yourself!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Late wedding-cake, or early water-closet?,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)Over ten episodes (on two DVDs), our Brian follows in the footsteps of the eighteenth-century English milords as they travelled the length and breadth of Italy as part of their education into manhood. Although the Grand Tour as a concept was by and large ended by the French Revolutionary Wars at the end of the eighteenth century, Brian tells us along the way how he himself had done his Grand Tour fifty years previously when he was "an impoverished student" in his early twenties. Now he does it in more style and with certainly more money, using his gold-coloured classic Mercedes instead of horse and carriage.
As he descends the Italian side of the Alps via the snowy Mont Cenis pass, Brian tells us in the way that only he know how that the milords, "from here ... were no longer their own masters. They were conducted over the mountains by peasants speaking some ungodly language ..., peasants so big, so ugly, so obviously the result of incest - goitred, swollen-eyed, buck-toothed, hang-jawed, hideous beyond belief." Times have thankfully changed, as he heads for their and his first port-of-call: Turin - and then onto Milan, where surprisingly there is no Last Supper by Leonardo to be gloried or damned by our Brian. (After `The Naked Pilgrim' series, he seems to have regained his healthy religious scepticism.)
Brian's route takes him down the Po valley through Cremona and Parma to Bologna; then across the Apennines to Florence; then on to Rome via San Geminiano, Sienna, and Orvieto. He travels as far south as Naples (where he is seasick in the bay) and Pompeii and Paestum, before heading north again to Raphael's Urbino via Todi. Rimini, Ferrara and Mantua engage his attention (but, alas, not Ravenna) before Vicenza (for Palladio, Possagno (for Canova), and Padua for the Brenta Canal. Carnival at Venice rounds off the experience, "a hideous nonsense", "a freak show", "tack and trash".
Along the way we have many personal (and often moving) reminiscences, as well as lessons on Vasari, Titian, Michelangelo (for whom Brian sheds a sincere tear or two), Bernini, Tiepolo (both father and son), and Canaletto, to name but a few. He shows us churches, cathedrals, art galleries, palaces, gardens, opera houses, theatres, and coffee shops. And we taste Parma ham, Bolognese sausages, view rabbits' bottoms, and taste Chianti and olive oil (learning the difference between virgin and extra-virgin varieties). Never one to be shy to hide his opinions, he describes the façade of Santa Croce church in Florence as "late wedding-cake or early water-closet", and refers to Chianti as a combination of red ink and urine.
Brian often reminds us about the endeavours of the average milord, who were not necessarily undertaking the trip purely for artistic and cultural ends: it was not just architecture, music, painting or sculpture that occupied their minds, but, "Sex, alcohol, gambling ... and the seductions of Roman Catholicism". But it is clear that Brian's main area of interest is sex, whether it is the bedroom entertainment of the last Medici grand dukes of Tuscany or the fashionista boys of Milan parading their manhood: "the Italian male has for centuries been in love with himself ... [He] is not necessarily homosexual - it might help a bit - but he is very much in love with being male."
The series is clearly part-staged, part-spontaneous: he started the tour in spring and yet ends it on Ash Wednesday. He has a jolly good time throughout most of the trip, enjoying the balloon ride over Florence, having his portrait painted in Rome (where the artist draws "deeply from the well of deceit"), but is disappointed by the dormancy of Vesuvius. Elsewhere, he tries to imitate the sound of a peacock, but sounds more like a strangled cat, and climbs the 502 steps of the tower in Cremona - at the age of seventy-three!
I was surprised that his Italian barely reached beyond the schoolboy level (unlike Andrew Graham Dixon). He keeps a journal along the way, but alas it does not seem to have been published. The ending is a little of an anti-climax for the viewer, but for Brian it was an emotional moment, as he realises this may be his last Grand Tour. But, no, Brian, despite the angina, Can we not have another trip? After your trek to Santiago di Compostela in Spain, and this Grand Tour of Italy, I suggest London to Vienna via the Rhine and Danube valleys. You can do it in style by train and relax along the way. If only ...
There are alas, no extras: no bloopers, no deleted scenes. And there are no subtitles.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly opinionated,with an impish sense of humour.,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)Brian Sewell does have strong opinions on the buildings,and works of art seen in this series.
One may agree,or disagree,with his opinions,but,his depth of knowledge,in combination with his impish sense of humour,makes travelling with him around Italy fun,and very informative.
For anyone with a multiregion DVD player,although it is much more expensive,I can recommend the USA version of this series.
The series is spread over 4 discs,and,therefore the picture quality is excellent,and does justice to the subject matter.
Additionally,the american version has subtitles.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first tour with Mr Sewell and not my last,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)A very informative and entertaining series. Quite unhurried in its presentation and with a real sense of grand tours of old, a gold Mercedes being Brian Sewells modern day gentlemans carriage! The only downside and hence four stars instead of five is that the picture quality could be better.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Sewell at his best,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)I, too,have found problems with the quality of the picture. It is not like a fuzzy YouTube video, but the quality IS suspect.I have searched for other reviews, and found the same series offered on four discs, instead of two.It is filmed in High Definition, but that is not much good if it is squeezed down like this. Aside from that, Brian Sewell is a joy to watch. He always seems to have patience with people, and is the perfect antidote to the pap we are subjected to today, should we choose to watch television.There is some of the 'different picture every second' syndrome but, just as I was getting wound up, Mr Sewell commented on the poor quality of TV today, and its 'dumbing down'of the viewers.The series seems to get better as it goes on.I have learned from it, felt better for watching it, and have never spent this much on a DVD before, but look on it as an investment.(I don't know why Amazon asks my age at the beginning of this review - surely that is irrelevant?) Two discs supplied, and worth every penny.I look on Brian Sewell as a therapy. He works!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A plain good travel story,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)An intelligent, perceptive and at times mischievous look at the paintings and architecture as seen by 18th century Grand Tourists. Brian Sewell is witty and fastidious in his treatment of the subject matter, an eloquent and slow-paced delivery making every work of art seem all the more fascinating. At times emotional but never patronising, I can't think of a nicer way to experience Italian culture from the comfort of your sofa.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars elucidating virtual time spent in Italy,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)I can only say that this is an excellent travel series, as good as Francesco's Italy or any other similar series. Thank you Brian Sewell for showing me around Turin and some sites I didn't visit when I was in Turin. You didn't do the most predictable sight-seeing. No mention of the egyptology museum but instead San Lorenzo's church. Never heard of it before. You've helped me understand Turin's history and everything about the grand tourists from our country to theirs, 300 years ago, and it's amazing how things have developed. From people scrabbling up snowy mountains if they couldn't handle being carried on a stretcher thing by peasants, to the cable car. From playing footsie and flirting to the point of "rolling around on the floor together" at the opera, to obvious and available "sex", today. So much has changed. Turin used to be the most modern city in Europe. Very revelatory. Buildings were knocked down to make wider roads which is amazing! I am looking forward to discovering other parts that I thought I knew, too! All from the comfort of my chair! It is a very modern luxury. Thanks Brian!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Grand Tour,
This review is from: Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] (DVD)What can I say ??? little I fear . His wonderful use of words , many I found myself looking up in a dictionary , both in his written works and visual . His descriptions of his Grand Tour and Pilgrimages were set in stone as it were On par with Pevsner . Wonderfully excercised in his written works that one hardly needed any film of his ' Tours ' . However the series of his Pilgrimages and Grand Tours were so marvellous and detailed . Just excellent . need I say more ?
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Brian Sewell's Grand Tour [DVD] by Christopher Bruce (DVD - 2006)