|Tim Jenison sets up an image to project and paint.|
The documentary centers on television photography inventor Tim Jenison's fascination with the work of Johannes Vermeer, the 16th Century Dutch master who painted notable works like "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and used techniques still not fully understood. Among them was Vermeer's early version of a camera, the theory goes and Tim tries to prove here by painting Vermeer's "The Music Lesson" as it might have been originally painted.
It was a tedious process that took months and tested this non-artist to his limits, but the result was remarkable. I found the attention to detail riveting--much as I found it that way in the book The Girl with the Pearl Earring where a good portion was spent mixing paint.
It didn't hurt that I went with a photographer who loves gadgets (I recently compared a shot of hers to a Vermeer) and sat behind Roanoke's best known and maybe best artist, Eric Fitzpatrick, both of whom--all three of them if you count Eric as both best and best known--were transfixed.
The movie was produced and directed by Penn and Teller, which gave it a professional polish you don't often find in docs. I found the non-bouncy camera to be reassuring.