"Art is the enemy of the routine, the mechanical and the humdrum. It stops us in our tracks with a high voltage jolt of disturbance; it reminds us of what humanity can do beyond the daily grind. It takes us places we had never dreamed of going; it makes us look again at what we had taken for granted." Simon Schama recounts the remarkable story of eight moments of high drama in the making of eight masterpieces: Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath; Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa; Rembrandt's Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis; Jacques-Louis David's Marat; Turner's Slave Ships with Slavers Throwing the Dead and Dying Overboard; Van Gogh's Wheatfield with Crows; Picasso's Guernica; and Mark Rothko's suite of paintings for the Seagram Building restaurant, the Four Seasons in New York. Was Vincent Van Gogh's "Wheatfield with Crows" a desperate plea for help, a suicide note, or a demonstration of an artist at the height of his creative powers? David Belton (Shooting Dogs) directs Andy Serkis as Vincent Van Gogh.
Vincent challenged the art world that surrounded him, by turning himself into his own living social experiment, allowing his heart and passion to flow through the immense control of his craft. He wanted to change the world. Painting was his path and he ran down it as fast as he possibly could. Having never picked up a paint brush before the age of 30 he produced in a few short years, thousands of works. He is widely considered the father of modern art … of course most people just think of him as the man who chopped his ear off. In bringing him to life for the screen, David and I decided that one way of honouring Vincent's refusal to conform to the rules of the art movement he was born into, was to break through the one way mirror of the documentary convention, allowing the subject to sense and hear the theories and commentary of the presenter … Mr. Schama himself. — Andy Serkis, October 2006