Mona Lisa

by Hewins, Roger

Film: 16mm 1983


Leonardo's painting 'Mona Lisa' must be the most well-known 'old master', and also the most systematically and ruthlessly exploited. This short film pleads guilty of adding to the body of ever increasing 'quotation', but with the motive of commenting on the image's ubiquity. The film initially establishes a familiar situation, that of the camera viewing people viewing the painting in the gallery. As our attention is slowly focussed upon the woman's 'mysterious smile', this attention is dramatically and surprisingly arrested, revealing a much more practical context for the painting. The film (Mona Lisa) is a visual joke, an anecdote based, based upon the popularity of the painting as decoration. I hope Mona would have smiled. To exhibitors: MONA LISA has previously accompanied a programme of films investigating how painting is presented by film, and has been valuable in setting a non-academic tone to an otherwise potentially academic subject. This has helped subsequent discussion. It could also be included in a programme of comedy shorts, as well as programmes dealing directly with formal questions of screen space and audience expectation. As the film is brief and the 'punch line' abrupt, audiences have suggested a repeat viewing. Consequently two screenings of the film are permitted per booking, within a single presentation.


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