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Adoration in the Forest

   2010    Art
Painted over five centuries ago, Filippo Lippi's nativity is like none other: it shows the birth of Christ in a dark, wooded wilderness. There are no shepherds, kings, ox, ass – there is no Joseph. Its beauty inspired Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. But it also conceals a deeply personal story. It was painted for Cosimo de Medici, a wealthy banker who feared that his money was dragging him straight to hell. The artist's life was equally surprising. One of the most celebrated painters of his day, Filippo Lippi was also a Carmelite friar, but he was no stranger to the temptations of the flesh, to which he frequently yielded. Shortly before painting his Adoration, he caused uproar by seducing a twenty year-old nun. His paintings rejoice not only in divine beauty, but in the beauty of women. In later times, the Adoration's history was interwoven with that of rulers and dictators. It became a bargaining chip after Napoleon's allies seized twenty merchant ships. And in the 20th century, it was hidden by the Nazis in a potassium mine, where specialist american officers, known as Monuments Men, stumbled upon it. they were now told to get it ready to be shipped out. In an unprecedented turn of events they refused. This is the only known case in the whole of the Second World War of American officers refusing an order. It was sent to the National Gallery of Art, but in 1949 Lippi's Adoration was returned to Germany.
Series: The Private Life of a Masterpiece

Dream and Machine

   2010    Art
Andrew Graham-Dixon continues his exploration of German art by looking at the tumultuous 19th and early 20th centuries, and how artists were at the forefront of Germany's drive to become a single nation. Andrew travels to the north and the coastal town of Griefswald, the birthplace of Caspar David Friedrich, the most influential of the German Romantics, to discover how the Baltic coast impacted his mysterious paintings of the German landscape. He also visits Berlin and explores the art of the powerful Prussian state, which would spearhead the unification of Germany in 1871. The episode ends with the outbreak of World War I and the attempts of the artists Franz Marc and Otto Dix to rationalise the catastrophic experiences of the world's first technological war, a war driven by the Prussian innovations.
Series: The Art of Germany

In the Shadow of Hitler

   2010    Art
There is a tendency to deny German culture the equal reverence of Italy or Spain, and this enlightening new series provides a wonderful opportunity to explore a great, yet often neglected, artistic tradition whose influence has been just as profound. Andrew Graham-Dixon concludes his exploration of German art by investigating the dark and difficult times of the 20th century. Dominating the landscape is the figure of Adolf Hitler, failed artist, would-be architect and obsessed with the aesthetics of his 1,000-year Reich". In a series of extraordinary building projects and exhibitions, Hitler waged a propaganda war against every form of modern art as a prelude to unleashing total war on the whole of Europe. After the war the shadow of the Third Reich persisted, Germany remained divided and traumatised. How would artists deal with a past that everybody wanted to forget? Journeying through the work of Otto Dix and George Grosz and the age of the Bauhaus to the post-war painters Georg Baselitz, Hilla Becher and the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys is a long and strange journey, but the signs that art has a place at the heart of the new reunited Germany are clearly visible.
Series: The Art of Germany

Exit Through the Gift Shop

   2010    Art
The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. Billed as 'the world's first street art disaster movie' the film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work. No director or screenwriters are listed in "Gift Shop's" credits, just the words "A Banksy Film." Banksy is a graffiti artist with a global reputation whose work can be seen on walls from post—hurricane New Orleans to the separation barrier on the Palestinian West Bank. Fiercely guarding his anonymity to avoid prosecution, Banksy has so far resisted all attempts to be captured on film. Exit Through the Gift Shop tells the incredible true story of how an eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner – with spectacular results. The film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work, on walls and in interview. As Banksy describes it, "It's basically the story of how one man set out to film the un—filmable. And failed."

The Buddha

   2010    History
After 400 BC, a new philosophy was born in South east Asia, generated from the ideas of Buddha, a mysterious Prince from India who gained enlightenment while he sat under a large, shapely fig tree. He remains one of the most legendary and influential of all religious progenitors, but what of his actual life? In this biographical documentary, director David Grubin tells the historical tale of Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC), from his initial enlightenment through his death around the age of 80. In the process, Grubin makes an unusual point: that Gautama never once claimed to be God or God's emissary, but instead sought to find a way to bring peace and alleviation from suffering to others in a cruel and often insane world. In telling this story, Grubin combines a number of elements including original animations, testimony by contemporary Buddhists such as the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, glimpses of sculptures and paintings that help tell Gautama's story, and much more. Narrated by Richard Gere
Triumph of Life
Triumph of Life

   2006    Nature
The Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht

   2007    History
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
Prehistoric America
Prehistoric America

   2003    Nature
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
Cosmos
Cosmos

   1980    Science
Blood of the Vikings
Blood of the Vikings

   2001    History