Da Vinci's Demons: Season 1
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Da Vinci's Demons: Season 1

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Fame is a commodity that has been devaluated in our modern society. There was a time when an individual had to accomplish some extraordinary to garner the accolades of the public. Now scandalous sex tape, commitment for mental health issues or earing an assortment of generally disgusting items appears to be sufficient to make that person a household name, at least in the short run. The scope Leonardo da Vinci's genius can only be estimated. A true polymath he was the epitome of the term Renaissance man whose imagination and vision broaden our understanding of the world, contributed to disciplines not yet established and enriched humanity with his artistic endeavors. He was for his precise, albeit frequently encrypted journals and his perchance to move from one project to another, easily distracted by a new idea that lodged in his mind. Today he would inevitable be diagnosed with ADA, attention deficit disorder and heavily medicated. While that way have brought order to a quick and chaotic time it would also have deprived humanity of one of the most eclectic geniuses our spices has ever produced. The BBC production released in conjunction with the Statz cable network come up with one of the most imaginative views of his brilliant man in the youthful prime of youthful his life. While instilled with a greater degree of artistic license and liberal deployment on pure conjecture the series is based on a kernel of historical fact upon which a dramatic fantasy is performed. Consistent with the other original series presented by Starz this one represents the highest caliber of artistic merit possible and something worthy of enjoying. There are several biographies available through the History Channel. Having reviewed a few it would be beneficial to become to become familiar with the true scope of this remarkable man’s mind prior to indulging yourself in a work of fantasy and fiction based upon it. He has remained for half a millennium a person truly worthy of enduring fame.

The first glimpse we receive of da Vinci is in a field drawing a beautiful young woman, Vanessa (Hera Hilmar). It is obvious that she is strongly attracted to the artist; she probes for personal details. Her ‘rationale is "if I bare my figure to you it is only proper you bare you soul to me." Flirtation combined with bare breast is noticed by the master but not unaccustomed yielding little in the desired information. He is focused on the arrival of his apprentice, Nico (Eros Vlahos) with a large pair a wings; a kite of sufficient size to hold a man. In this instance Nico is to be test subject. Like many of the inventions displayed in the series this was directly from da Vinci’s surviving notebook although it must be noted while the design is historically accurate and perhaps technically feasible many of da Vinci’s inventions remained untested, never constructed or failed to fully succeed. We soon learn that Leonardo is the recognized bastard of wealthy and influential family.

His familiar connections and widely known innovative mind has made him known in the upper circles of power. This is a two edged sword since he is often noted for being an eccentric not to be taking seriously.

In order to secure patronage for his artistic endeavors da Vinci arrives at the conclusion that his artistic expressions are nowhere as potentially lucrative as giving the rich and powerful what they truly desire, a military advantage over their many enemies. To this end his seeks out one of the local seats on power, Duke of Milan and later the infamous Borgia’s as they used the Papacy to dominate the known world. While the real Leonardo found creating what would now be classified as weapons of mass destruction and battle field armament. Here it was a means to expedite and fund his true interests. One of the most influential men in the world, Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan) had a personal reason to hold da Vinci in distain. Leonardo. His mistress, Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock) was also one of da Vinci’s lovers. Besides the incredible advances in arts and understanding this age brought in it was also a brutal time. Pope Sixtus IV (James Faulkner) permitted the continuation of the dreaded inquisition although the piety of his position was tainted by blatant nepotism and his personal homosexuality.

0one of the central themes that dominates the motivation of the story arcs occurs when da Vinci is approached by members of a secret religious society, the Sons of Mithras. They incite Leonardo to become obsessed in locating an ancient book of unbelievable knowledge, the Book of Leaves. This is a plot line that veers most into the realm of fantasy. In respects it relies of the contrived mysteries used in works such as ‘The da Vinci Code’ to assist in capturing the interest and imagination of the audience. The producers of the series, to their credit, make no pretenses in trying to present this as a historically accurate account. It is a delightfully textured tapestry true to the essence of the historical period that employs actual historical figures in context whenever feasible. The result may be fiction but in reaching for the goal the series achieves success to a remarkable degree. You might wish to combined this with Showtime recently concluded series, ‘The Borgias’, to truly capture the lust, greed and ambitious that motivated the aristocracy and clergy to seek to control the world.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this series is something that appears to be a commonality in Starz productions, style. The visual impact each episode generated seems more at home in an art house than your cable box; a definite plus here. The beauty of the Italian country side is expertly contrasted with the opulence of the rich and the squalor of the poor. No matter which environment is examined one thing pervades; a lust for life’s pleasure. The sex and nudity is far from gratuitous here, it represents the indulgences of the day One of the most intriguing visual devices it how they bring the audience into the constantly spinning mind of the great Leonardo da Vinci. Using a variation of rotoscoping da Vinci’s famous drawing style brings his numerous sketch books and blue prints to animated life. The kinetic quality this technique imparts truly brings the vision and scope of his imagination into a tangible quality. In the first episode ds Vinci states he has always had the gift to accurately draw anything he sees, even if it was a glancing glimpse. This is demonstrated when he purchase a cage full of birds from a street vendor instructing him to release them. As they fly away da Vinci quickly sketches them with a style that is artistically incredible and anatomically accurate. This encapsulates the range of his interests. He not only sees how things works but he infuses it with an astonishing beauty. It does this efficiently while reinforcing his famous infatuation with human flight.

Posted 08/29/2013

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