Tim’s Vermeer sets out to make a modern Vermeer and discovers the artist used secret technology **** Four Stars
by Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2014/8/19 – Tim Jenison, creator of Video Toaster and the 3D software Lightwave, has a wild theory about the 17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. Jenison says Vermeer’s work “looks like video” to him. Did Vermeer use a mechanical device to create such lifelike paintings? And if so, how could he have done it with 17th century technology, 200 years before the invention of photography?
Vermeer did not document how he painted so real to life. Tim Jenison a computer engineer and inventor has a pretty compelling theory. Jenison uses his own money to attempt to recreate Vermeer’s painting The Music Lesson. Jenison, who’s not an artist, sets out to paint a masterpiece.
Jenison travels to Delft, Netherlands, to view where Vermeer produced his work. In Yorkshire, England he consults with English artist David Hockney. There’s one Vermeer Jenison desperately wants to see in England, but it’s owned by the royal family and in Buckingham Palace.
The film is produced by Penn & Teller. Penn is a friend of Jenison and does the voice-over. Teller is the director. Jenison is a curious guy who wants to know how things are done and an inventor. There are visual flaws in Vermeer’s paintings, that can only exist in optics, that would not be seen with the naked eye by an artist. Jenison is convinced Vermeer used optical lenses.
The process Jenison proposes Vermeer used is very time consuming. Jenison uses a camera obscura and mirrors to make his Vermeer-like painting. The camera obscura is a primitive optical projector first described by Greek mathematician Aristotle in the 6th century B.C. But, that device projects an image inverted and upside down. If Vermeer used it, he must have improved it. Seeing how time-consuming is that Jenison replicates, it’s no wonder Vermeer only completed a few dozen paintings.
There’s no drama in the film but the end result is dramatic. Well worth watching the documentary.
The film was shot mostly with RED cameras. There is some footage shot with consumer camcorders. Tim’s Vermeer is presented as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, with most, but not all, of the same features on both discs.
The special features include an audio commentary with Tim Jenison, director Teller, and producers Penn Jillette and Farley Ziegler. There’s footage from the Toronto Film Festival Q&A (HD, 21:21) Anecdotes about making the film, including structural strategies that were abandoned in the editing.
Deleted Scenes are 22:45 total, 8:16 of them Blu-ray exclusive. They tried to do a Penn and Teller Bullshit! episode featuring Vermeer. A Blu-ray exclusive shows Tim reflecting on the work he has done as he commits the final brush strokes to his painting.
Extended and Alternate Scenes of 2:18:13 total; 1:04:38 of them Blu-ray exclusive. More footage that didn’t make it into the film, but gives more details as to how, why and what Jenison did to recreate the work of Vermeer.
Tim’s Vermeer Blu-ray/DVD
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
Audio Description: English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: June 10, 2014
Run Time: 80 minutes
Twitter: @pennjillette, @MrTeller