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Canberra Today 18°/20° | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Movie review / ‘The Lost Leonardo’ (PG)

“The Lost Leonardo” (PG) ***

IN 2018, a TV documentary “Leonardo: The Mystery of the Lost Portrait” was broadcast. Where it was made and by whom, I haven’t been able to find out. This isn’t it!

But this Danish feature-length documentary is genuine, telling a credible story full of twists, turns, unanswered questions and possible conclusions, seeking the truth of a mystery that rocked its aggregation of wealth, culture and science, without finding the solution.

It’s a whodunnit without a victim, a story with only two main characters, both long since deceased, and $450 million. Does that sound exciting? Well, it’s not exactly that. 

It’s about a painting. The subject is a man never painted from life, whose birth in the hayshed behind a Jerusalem inn and public death by a very cruel and nasty punishment are still respectively celebrated and mourned two millennia later. You know who I mean.

Whether the face in the painting is an authentic replica is not the issue. But the name of the bloke who might have painted it is very much a matter needing authentication. The question is, is the painting genuinely the one called “Salvator Mundi” (Saviour of the World) by 15th century artist Leonardo da Vinci?

And where is it now?

And who owns it now?

And where did the present owner get $US400 million to pay the previous owner (who paid only $US127 million for it) plus $US50 million commission to Christies’ auction house?

Questions. Questions. And more questions. Big names in the business side of the art world with lots to say. But no real answers. Yet? 

This is not a movie for people craving escape, excitement and the fantasies of mainline cinema. But it can send people craving exercise of what H Poirot called “the little grey cells”, out into the light with much the same empty grab-bag of conclusions as those of many art-trade cognoscenti. Opinions. Nothing else. I wonder who’ll make the next film, fiction or doco, on the same subject. And when?

At Palace Electric and Dendy

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Dougal Macdonald

Dougal Macdonald

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