Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Art­ists: Michelangelo

DVD approx. 25 min. Cetting to Know. 2004, 2005 release. $29.95. K-Gr 8

Appealing animation. humor. and some solid information combine to make this an entertaining introduction to the artist. Briefly told in the first person, Michelangelo’s life unfolds from his first art apprenticeship un­til his last unfinished work at the age of 89. In between, we catch glimpses of Michelangelo’s oversized ego, his amazing work ethic, and his towering talent. He is portrayed here as a wisecracking cartoon character with an Ital­ian accent to match, and while students will laugh out loud at some of the antics, they may occasionally find the Italian accent difficult to understand. It is the art, however, that holds our attention.

From his statue of David to the Pieta, Michelange1o’ssculplure isshowcased in realistic close-ups, while the frescoes and his architectural projects are also spotlighted, includ­ ing the Sistine Chapel ceilings and St. Peter’ Basilica. While the production focuses on this sampling of his greatest work, there is also an attempt to place his achievements within the context of Renaissance Italy.

The video alter­nates between animation and live shots such as the quarrying of large slabs of marble, but it also creatively integrates the two when Michelangelo describes his individual works. Most terminology is defined and explained. While the scope precludes an in-depth exploration of Michelangelo’s life or the actual art techniques, this humorous, fast-paced production makes Michelangelo and his art accessible to a wide range of students.-Emily Herman, Mary Lin Elementary School, Atlanta, GA