The Eloquent Nude - a personal review

June 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

EloquentNude3Sometime during a web search a couple of years ago, I came across an organization named Northwest Documentaries based in Portland, Oregon. As the name might suggest, Northwest Documentaries is a small, independent maker of documentary films and videos. What attracted me to their website, was a blurb about an upcoming documentary film about Edward Weston & Charis Wilson. I perused some pre-release info on the site as well as a brief 'trailer'. I was interested, but it seems the film was still in post production and I don't recall seeing a DVD release date. I remember the film was being screened at a few select venues and was receiving good reviews. I was eager to see the film to see how faithful it was to written accounts of Edward's and Charis's life together. When it finally became available on DVD, I immediately ordered a copy.

The Eloquent Nude Has been broadcast, in edited form, on Ovation TV and a few other networks since it's release. I do not recommend viewing this documentary on network television for two reasons: like most broadcast programs, it is edited for time, and you don't get the additional material that's included on the DVD version.

Like many historical documentaries, The Eloquent Nude is based on reenactments of events. The actors chosen to portray both Edward Weston and Charis Wilson were quite good and each bore a striking resemblance to their historical counterpart (more information about the actors is available on the DVD). Props and locations were faithful to the originals and significant attention was paid to detail, indicating thorough research of the subjects. Most reenacted scenes were shot with a small Super8 film camera in black and white which gives the production an appealing illusion of authenticity.

Overall The Eloquent Nude is well made and faithful to the written accounts that I have read. That said, I would caution that you remember that it is essentially about Charis Wilson and a ten year period in her life married to a famous photographer and therefore reflects only her recollections of that period. It does not stand alone as representative of that period in Edward Weston's life, but it is a valuable supplement when viewed in the context of other available material specific to the life of Edward Weston. I found great value in the 'bonus' material on the DVD, mostly in the form of many photographs that I had never seen before. As Charis Wilson was living and collaborated in the production of this documentary, I suspect these came from her.

All-in-all, I consider The Eloquent Nude a must-have and I consider it a very valuable addition to my photography library.

You can learn more and purchase here: http://www.eloquentnude.org/index2.html

You can learn more about Northwest Documentary here: http://www.nwdocumentary.org


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