“Eric Ravilious – Drawn To War” is the first major feature film about Eric Ravilious (1903-1942), the brilliant and much loved but hugely underestimated British engraver and water-colourist.
“Exhilarating, enthralling and outstandingly beautiful. A revelation.” That was the verdict of Observer art critic Laura Cummings in 2015 on the first major exhibition of Eric Ravilious’ watercolours. His work was almost forgotten until his children found a stash under a bed in the 1970s.
The story is told in Ravilious’s own words through a wealth of material drawn from a treasure trove of private correspondence and previously unseen archive. The film features the voices of Freddie Fox, Tamsin Greig, Jeremy Irons and Harriet Walter. The film is produced and directed by BAFTA and RTS Award winner Margy Kinmonth and an impressive lineup of friends and fans including Grayson Perry, Alan Bennett and Ai Weiwei appear speaking in praise of Ravilious.
As a war artist this famously witty, adventure-fond character had found a calling, risking his neck for visual reportage. In 1942, the aircraft he was flying in was lost off the coast of Iceland, making him the first British war artist to die in active service.
Running Time 88 mins
Director(s) Margy Kinmonth
Voices Cast includes Tamsin Greig, Freddie Fox, Harriet Walter, Jeremy Irons
Featured Appearnces Alan Bennett, Grayson Perry, Ai Weiwei
Neglected until just a few years ago, the landscape and war artist comes marvellously alive in this thoughtful, star-studded documentary.
Modest in its approach, this filmic portrait takes shape as both biography and love story. Director Margy Kinmonth uses the letters between Ravilious and his long-suffering wife, fellow artist Tirzah Garwood, as an affecting narrative backbone,
This fine overview does convince you of his singularity, while also coaxing you into the sunlit, subtly clouded uplands of his lost world.
……… what other artist has captured a sense of what it feels like to be English — more emotively than this painter famed for his mellow pastorals?………Ravilious, Kinmonth believes, is a talent on a par with Turner, Nash, Constable and Hockney.
Her film, setting out to present a multifaceted portrait, doubles as an exhibition of the sort that, given the fragility of his watercolours, could never be staged.
This well-crafted documentary makes a thorough and convincing case for Ravilious as a major figure in early 20th-century art. It’s a portrait of the artist as a tea-sipping cheerful sort of a chap with not an ounce of artistic torture in his body – which might go some way to explaining why he was ignored for so long.
Director Margy Kinmonth seems to be fascinated by Garwood too. Their letters are beautifully read here by Freddie Fox and Tamsin Greig.
……….this vivid documentary argues that Ravilious should be as famous as Turner and Constable. Rediscovery is long overdue.
A touching search for a missing artist –
Margy Kinmonth’s documentary ………. makes good use of both his art and his letters and diary entries, while not neglecting the role and significance of his wife, Tirzah Garwood.
Kinmonth has a wealth of materials to draw from and she makes good use of the paintings, engravings and ceramics that the artist left behind, but her documentary is primarily structured around letters and diary entries. Perhaps her smartest filmmaking choice is to give Ravilious’s wife and fellow artist Tirzah a near-equal share in the voiceover narration (spoken by Freddie Fox and Tamsin Greig), allowing her to emerge as an equally intriguing figure.
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