[EXPRESSO] Tutankhamun: The Last Exhibition (2022) | Here Comes The Centhury Boy

Docufilm time!

This one is an italian production directed by Ernesto Pagano, with some narration by Manuel Agnelli in the original italian release, and by Iggy Pop in the english/international one.

The documentary goes into the early discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by english aristocrat Howard Carver, talking about the impact on western popular culture the discovery had (including popularizing the “pharaoh’s curse” in various medias) and showing the preparations made for a London based exhibition that started in 2019 to put on the display the many treasures and relics found inside.

All with commentaries by various “talking heads” from the egyptian, italian and british side of things.

It’s not a bad documentary, necessarily, but it’s one that feels like it has to appeal to everyone, so it doesn’t quite committ to a certain direction nor goes into any detail. For example, in a docufilm about Tutankhamun you don’t learn much that wasn’t already common knowledge, you’d think they took the opportunity to actually go further and try to depict who this young pharaoh was a person (more than in a couple of passing lines, anyway), his lineage, the historical background he lived in…

Heck, i would have preferred some more footage of the exhibition itself (since due to COVID pandemic the tour stopped and Egypt decided not to move the artifacts out of the Giza museum), but nope, we have a cool narrating voice trying to fashion some kind of fictionalized “epic” scenes… only to then move to scenes of people slowly misuring, cataloguing and inspecting the artifacts.

It’s not “offensive” nor a complete bore, and it’s short, just 80 minutes long, but that exacerbates the feel this was made just to have something out celebrating the 100th anniversary of “King Tut”’s tomb being discovered.

[EXPRESSO] Exhibition On Screen: Sunflowers (2021) | Now Available On CDi

Yeah, i changed my mind and on a whim went to see this limited screening event release.

This is actually the latest in the Exhibition On Screen gallery series of art documentaries, which already featured the dutch master painter Van Gogh twice (Van Gogh In Japan and Van Gogh: A New Way Of Seeing), which makes sense as many other films (documentaries and fiction) based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh and his art were and are still made regularly, with various degrees of quality.

So i was surprised by this one, as it centers on an apparently both specific and banal subject of Van Gogh’s output, his series of Sunflowers paintings, often mistaken as a single work but actually consist of 11 variations-iterations, and exploring the reasons why these prove to be incredibly iconic and popular for decades, the factual events (and theories) under which Van Gogh painted them, and some narrative inserts with actor Jamie de Courcey as Van Gogh.

Honestly, it explores the subject quite well, avoiding most of the obvious and beyond well known facts, and it being just a glorified advert for a museum (as they can be, like that one documentary about the Hermitage narrated by Jeremy Irons), while we do travel across the globe to see the 5 publicly owned pieces of the series (one in the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum, of course), in what they differ from each other, and we go a bit deeper in the matters of restauration, of critique and preservation of these painting, as well into connected topic of botany, and the persisting popularity of what are – at first glance – very simple and almost banal in terms of subject.

Not great, but definitely a good art documentary, one coming in a comfortable 90 minutes package.