You cannot hold back spring

22nd March 2021

As we slowly exit our third lockdown and see the rapid roll-out of vaccinations, we can – whisper it – start thinking about returning to a non-Zoom-oriented reality. The Royal Academy and Tate Britain are feeling that optimism with both galleries announcing exhibitions involving artists we have films about, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, and William Hogarth.

The Royal Academy will host an exhibition of David Hockney’s artwork created on his iPad over lockdown. Appropriately called, David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, it is centred around 116 new and optimistic works in praise of the natural world. The show opens on May 23 and closes on 26 September 2021. Our three films about Hockney are part of the Art Lives series exploring the artist’s life and work.

Tate Britain hosts Hogarth and Europe from 3 November this year. The exhibition places Hogarth in the wider context of Europe and examines how he addressed the new modernity of the 18th Century. It closes on 20 March 2022. Our 51-minute Art Lives film about William Hogarth, narrated by Andrew Graham Dixon, reveals how he was one of the most original British portraitists best known for his satirical etchings.

Finally, The Royal Academy opens with a major exhibition at the start of 2022, Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, which explores Bacon’s fascination with animals and how they both shaped his approach to the human body and distorted it; how, caught at the most extreme moments of existence, his figures are barely recognisable as either human or beast. The show runs from 20 January – 17 April 2022.

We have two films in our collection: The Art of Francis Bacon, which documents his ideas, his influences, and his work, is complemented by recordings of his own words by Derek Jacobi. Narrated by Melvyn Bragg, Frances Bacon, also in our Art Lives series, examines the ways in which Bacon revolutionised figurative painting in the 20th Century.

In the meantime, whilst we wait to get back to our beloved art galleries, Illuminations has released a range of its exhibitions and collections documentaries for digital download.

George Frederik Watts (National Portrait Gallery)
Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800 (V&A Museum)
Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547 (V&A Museum)
Glass Now (Jerwood Applied Arts Prize)
Thomas Gainsborough (Tate Britain)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
William Hodges (National Maritime Museum)
Saved! A Century of Art for Everyone (Art Fund)
Elizabeth (National Maritime Museum)
Marcus Gheeraerts II (Tate Britain)
George Romney (Walker Art Gallery)
The Victorian Nude (Tate Britain)
Image and Idol: Medieval Sculpture (Tate Britain)

Special spring offer for Matthew Bourne

18th February 2021

We’re pleased to offer a very special 25% discount on download orders during February and March. It’s to celebrate spring and is our way of bringing world-class dance to your screens in the comfort of your own home.

We know it’s tough that theatres are still closed but audiences still need to be entertained and, thankfully, we have a wonderful array of Matthew Bourne’s celebrated productions that we can share. Specially-filmed at Sadler’s Wells, CinderellaRomeo + JulietThe Car Man and Swan Lake are available for digital download purchase with this limited-time discount.

Quote code SPRING25 to redeem your discount between the dates given and click on the title of your choice below to purchase your download.

Cinderella 18-24 February
Romeo + Juliet 25 February-3 March
The Car Man 4-10 March
Swan Lake 11-17 March

During the past year, New Adventures has also created new digital content following government guidelines for safe working. The beautiful duet below is from Cinderella.

Filmed in December 2020 in the empty auditorium of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, it was released on Valentine’s Day to the delight of audiences. The Bedroom Duet in the clip is performed by Cordelia Braithwaite and Andrew Monaghan.

The full film version of Cinderella, captured in front of live audiences on the same stage in 2017 with full staging, costume and in front of a packed auditorium, is available now through this offer.

Exhibition documentaries available to download

26th January 2021

We are pleased to announce the release of our authoritative collection of exhibition documentaries for download exclusively from our website. It is the first time these films have been available digitally and we’re excited to be giving them a new lease of life.

Titles include Encounters, produced alongside the V&A’s 2004 exhibition of the same name, which explores Europe’s long fascination with Asia; Elizabeth, produced in association with the National Maritime Museum, delves into Queen Elizabeth I’s life and character, the England she governed, and the court in which she lived. Also available is Saved! A Century of Art for Everyone which celebrates the work of the National Arts Collection Fund (The Art Fund). Since 1903, it has helped museums and galleries across the United Kingdom acquire more than half-a-million works of art.

Most of our library of films is now available for downloading and we hope to release Art Lives digitally in the near future. Do keep a look out for further announcements in the coming weeks alongside news about our next Matthew Bourne release, The Red Shoes.

George Frederik Watts

Encounters

Gothic

Glass Now

Thomas Gainsborough

Dulwich Picture Gallery

William Hodges

Saved!

Elizabeth

Marcus Gheeraerts II

George Romney

The Victorian Nude

Image and Idol

2020 and all that…

31st December 2020

Even if our initial instinct is to wish fervently to forget the year that’s passing, we want to take just a moment to recall below the productions that we’ve worked on with wonderful collaborators over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year and warm best wishes for what has to be a better 12 months than the past one.

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes: with support from BBC Arts, WNET 13/PBS and More2Screen, and in a partnership New Adventures, Lucie Conrad produced for us a wonderful screen version of this compelling dance drama. Ross MacGibbon directed Matthew Bourne’s show for the screen, and we recorded it in January at Sadler’s Wells.

The production was screened in cinemas between lockdown and ‘tiering’ and was broadcast on BBC Two on Christmas Day. Which means that in the UK it is currently available on BBC iPlayer where it will reside happily until Christmas Eve 2021. And watch out for a DVD/Blu-ray (with added extras) and digital version in the spring.

We also released Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet on DVD, Blu-ray this year, and we began our successful streaming and download services for these titles and many more.

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On Basquiat’s 60th Birthday

22nd December 2020

Today is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s birthday. Had he not died of a heroin overdose in 1988 he would be 60 years old. For someone whose painting career only lasted eight years at most and an additional three as a street artist, his impact has been immense. 

Illuminations have had a small part to play in Basquiat’s legacy, having filmed the artist, alongside Andy Warhol as part of our State of the Art series in 1985, which remains one of the very few interviews of him on film. This has had quite an afterlife, being our most-watched YouTube clip and our most requested piece of footage for licencing, having been used in Shooting Star (1990) and in Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ in an 18-second clip of Basquiat that can be viewed around 5 minutes and 30 seconds in.

Basquiat’s legacy spans both the art world and popular culture. In May 2017 Untitled, 1982 sold for an astonishing $110,500,000 that set a new record high for any U.S artist at auction and is spoken in the same breath as Francis Bacon and Picasso. His work has recently adorned fashion brands as diverse as CoachUniqlo, and Commes des Garçon shirt for whom Basquiat had walked the SS87 runway show for Rei Kawakubo’s mainline.

While Basquiat’s legacy as a cultural icon can be seen in how he is held up by artists of colour as the first African American artist to become an international star. And the aforementioned Jay-Z, an icon in his own right, has cited him as an influence, going so far as dressing up as the artist for Halloween

You can purchase the entire State of the Art series on DVD and digitally or you can purchase single episodes, including Episode 6: Identity that features the Basquiat interview. We also have an excellent documentary about the artist’s life from Jean-Michel Vecchie, simply called Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Further Reading

Swan Lake turns 25

9th November 2020

It’s twenty-five years 25th since Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake first appeared on stage at Sadler’s Wells on 9th November 1995, starring Adam Cooper as the Swan/Stranger and the late Scott Ambler as The Prince.

In celebration of this anniversary, head over to New Adventures and sign up for their newsletter for a very special Swan Lake DVD, Blu-ray, and digital deal on offer for Monday 16th November.

Swan Lake show challenged convention, and audiences and critics gasped in dismay and admiration. With its all-male troupe of swans and iconic staging, Matthew Bourne’s show became an instant phenomenon.

Illuminations is proud to have filmed the most recent stage production in 2019 in collaboration with New Adventures, Sky Arts, and More2Screen, and we released the film on DVD, Blu-ray, and for download and streaming in spring 2020.

A special new extras film on the DVD and Blu-ray features interviews with past and recent cast and creatives intercut with previously unseen rehearsal and archive footage.

Click the links here to order your copies of the DVD, Blu-ray, or for streaming and download.

Sean Connery RIP

2nd November 2020

Although he had expressed unacceptably misogynist views in a number of interviews, the passing of Sean Connery is a moment for sadness, and for admiration of an astonishing career. We are particularly fond of his appearance as Hotspur in the BBC’s 1960 series of Shakespeare’s History plays, An Age of Kings, which we are delighted to have released on DVD. Here he is in episode 3 (and in the still above):

Sean Connery’s first appearance on BBC Television appears to be an episode of Dixon of Dock Green shown on 9 June 1956, when the actor was 25 years old. He took the lead in several notable BBC dramas, including starring as ‘Mountain’ McClintock in Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight (31 March 1957), which no longer exists, and in Jean Anouilh’s Colombe (17 January 1960), opposite Dorothy Tutin, a recording of which we have, and which is delightful.

Just before An Age of Kings, he took the part of Bartley in a production for schools television of J.M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea (16 February 1960). And in 1961 he appeared as Alexander the Great in Terence Rattigan’s oddball Adventure Story (12 June 1961) and as Vronsky to Claire Bloom’s Anna Karenina in Rudolph Cartier’s distinguished adaptation (3 November 1961). The rest, as it were, is Bond, James Bond (Dr No premiered in London on 5 October 1962) — and history.

Romeo + Juliet now out on DVD and Blu-ray

18th August 2020

We are delighted to announce that Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet is released on DVD and Blu-ray on the 25 August. This is our fourth Matthew Bourne dance release and follows Swan Lake, The Car Man and Cinderella. All productions were released for the first time as digital titles in May.

The DVD and Blu-ray editions of Romeo + Juliet include an exclusive The Making of .. film featuring interviews with Matthew Bourne; cast members Paris Fitzpatrick, Cordelia Braithwaite, and Daisy May Kemp; associate director Etta Murfitt; and young associate choreographer, Arielle Smith.

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet is a passionate and contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic story of love and conflict. Set in the not-too-distant future in ‘The Verona Institute’ and mysteriously confined against their will by a society that seeks to divide and crush their youthful spirits, our two young lovers must follow their hearts as they risk everything to be together.

A timeless story about repressed emotions and teenage discovery is no better told than by the young’, said Matthew Bourne. Inspired by this and as part of New Adventures’ ambition to support the next generation of on-stage talent, Romeo & Juliet featured the finest emerging male and female dancers from around the UK. Bursting with youth, vitality, and Bourne’s trademark storytelling, six young cast members were chosen following a nationwide audition tour and they performed alongside the New Adventures company at each theatre venue.

You can purchase Romeo + Juliet alongside our other Matthew Bourne titles via the Illuminations Film Shop.

Romeo + Juliet on DVDBlu-raydownload or streaming
Swan Lake on DVDBlu-raydownload or streaming
Cinderella on DVDBlu-raydownload or streaming
The Car Man on DVDBlu-raydownload or streaming

Swan Lake released on DVD and Blu-ray

9th July 2020

We’re thrilled to announce that Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake releases on DVD and Blu-ray on 14th July 2020. Lockdown may have slowed us down, but we’ve been working hard behind the scenes and we got there in the end!

Even if you’ve already bought the download, you won’t have seen the brand new extras film, The Making of Swan Lake, which accompanies the DVD and Blu-ray. Here you’ll find a wonderful array of interviews with cast, old and new, plus Matthew Bourne himself, as well as enticing backstage and rehearsal footage.

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet will be released on DVD and Blu-ray 25th August and this will mark the publication of four key Matthew Bourne productions by Illuminations over the past five years. Cinderella and The Car Man make up the triumphant quartet.

HOW TO ORDER

Swan Lake on DVD, Blu-ray, download or streaming
Romeo + Juliet on DVD, Blu-ray, download or streaming
Cinderella on DVD, Blu-ray, download or streaming
The Car Man on DVD, Blu-ray, download or streaming

Christo Javacheff, 1935 – 2020

10th June 2020

The artist, Christo Javacheff, passed away at the end of last month at the age of 84. Christo collaborated with his wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, and they were credited in their work as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a name he continued to use after her death in 2009. Both were born on the same day, “in the same moment”, as Christo put it, on June 13th 1935 in Bulgaria and Morrocco respectively. After moving from Bulgaria to Paris and finding himself broke, Christo became a street artist where he impressed the wife of a wealthy French general who invited him to paint her at her home. It was here he met her daughter, Jeanne-Claude.

“The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse” by Man Ray, 1920

Christo had become fascinated by a work May Ray had produced in the 1920s, of a sewing machine wrapped in a blanket, “The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse”. When Jeanne-Claude first entered the young Christo’s attic flat she encountered numerous household objects encased in wrapping. Initially thinking Christo was mad and then engaged to Philippe Planchon, she nevertheless left Planchon for Christo just three weeks later after she returned from her honeymoon, already pregnant with Christo’s child.

Jeanne-Claude appeared to have caught Christo’s ‘madness’ as she encouraged him to think bigger and the pair would then become famous for wrapping entire buildings in polypropylene, including the Reichstag, Pont Neuf in Paris, and the trees in the Beyeler Foundation and its nearby Berower Park. Both keen environmentalists, in 1983 they surrounded eleven islands in Biscayne Bay, Miami, with 6.5 million square feet of floating pink woven polypropylene.

Prior to his death, Christo and Jeanne-Claude had planned to wrap the Arc de Triomphe, which has been confirmed will still go ahead in September 2021.

Torri Gates, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

In 1964 the pair moved to New York and it is here that Christo and Jeanne-Claude finally produced one of their most iconic works, The Gates. Inspired by Japanese Torri gates, in particular the tightly packed rows of Torri gates in the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Christo and Jeanne-Claude decorated Central Park with a “golden river” of 7,503 fabric-panelled gates. Initially conceived in 1979, it finally opened in February 2005, attracting 4 million visitors and costing $21 million as twenty-three miles of saffron-coloured vinyl gates decorated Central Park for just two weeks.

HBO co-produced the landmark Antonia Ferrera and Albert Maysles film, The Gates, which won a Peabody award in 2008. The film documented the 26 years it took for Christo and Jeanne-Claude to realise their idea for this substantial work. Recordings of their meetings and public hearings that spanned over four decades were woven together with stunning footage revealing how the winter darkness of Central Park was transformed by the play of light and colour of the saffron gates.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude claimed that there was no deeper meaning to their work outside its immediate aesthetic impact. For them, their art was intended simply to bring joy and beauty to the world. However, this assertation isn’t quite true because for Christo and Jeanne-Claude the process of bringing the work to fruition as part of the work itself, adds a layer of ‘depth’ that falls beyond sense experience. In this respect, The Gates, rather than being a detached documentary is instead both a part and an extension of the work itself, like a museum label contained within the frame of the painting it describes.

The Gates, 2005

The Gates is avaliable on DVD here.