Géricault: The Raft of the 'Medusa'

21 minutes, color, age range: 12 - adult, #365

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Géricault: The Raft of the 'Medusa'

Painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault was the leader of the French Romantic movement; The Raft of the 'Medusa' was his most ambitious work. In this film we see how he consciously sought for 'headline' public events to provide a subject for a major work that would launch his career. The Medusa, a government vessel, had foundered off the West African coast, and 150 people tried to escape on a raft. After thirteen days, only fifteen were rescued alive. They had had nothing but a few drops of wine - and human meat - to sustain them. The tragedy was blamed on official negligence and created a political scandal. Géricault depicted the instant when the survivors first saw the rescue ship, and he went to extraordinary lengths to achieve authenticity: he interviewed survivors and drew their portraits, he had a model of the raft built, he even studied corpses in the morgue. Such a choice of subject matter, and the presentation of a dramatic moment, is typical of Romantic painting, and forcefully illustrates the extent of Géricault's break from the balance and chill calm of the prevailing Neo-classical school.

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Credits

Director: Adrien Touboul
Script: Georges-Antoine Borias
Original music: Jacques Lasru:

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