Monday, June 29, 2009

Desperate Romantics

At long last, some additional news has broken about the BBC television adaptation of Franny Moyle's Pre-Raphaelite potboiler, Desperate Romantics. After months with no news, cyberspace finally has a fresh injection of stories about the much-anticipated series.

One of the more interesting articles I came across was Rapid Talent's interview with Samuel Barnett, who will be playing John Everett Millais. Barnett describes getting acquainted with his character through field trips to the National Gallery:

"I like all sorts of art, that's why I love wandering around The National Gallery. I really admire paintings that look like an actual snapshot – I think that's just extraordinary. That's what's so special about Millais: flesh – people's actual skin – looks real, for example in The Order Of Release and Christ In The House Of His Parents; it's photographic, it doesn't matter how close you get to the painting, you don't see the brushwork. With Millais's paintings it's microscopic; when he does hair it's extraordinary, you can see every strand. His paintings are my favourites – not just because I'm playing him – I think he's the best artist of the group, technically and also emotionally."

I would have to agree, though, as you all know, I have a great appreciation for Burne-Jones and Rossetti as well.

Although I'm a little disappointed that the BBC feels it's necessary to portray the Pre-Raphaelites as prototypes for modern models and rock stars, I suppose it makes it makes sense from a marketing perspective. And, in all honesty, I must admit that I was always drawn to that aspect of their story. As Barnett points out, the Pre-Raphaelites came on the scene just as the public was gaining greater access print publications than ever before:

"You don't have to know anything about the period or the artists; it's a human story and a 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' story as well: this was the period when supermodels and celebrity was born. The use of the printing press meant everyone, nationally and internationally, could see these guys' paintings and the models they used, that was a first – art had never had exposure like that before."

You can read the full story at Rapid Talent UK.

Also, special thanks to Grace at The Beautiful Necessity for bringing to my attention the fact that news stories about Desperate Romantics are finally starting to get out!


Hermes said...

The IMDB entry does show a cast list:

which gives a few more clues. The BBC are saying it is scheduled for October this year. Thanks to Grace for highlighting this.

Anonymous said...

Of course for all of the actor's purported research, he should know that there are no Millais pictures at the National Gallery -- they are at Tate Britain...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The Pre-Raphaelites as "sex, drugs and rock and roll"! Wow. But we know I shall be watching!!

Margaret said...

Yes, I'll be watching too, no matter how silly it may be!

Oh, and Jason, perhaps we can give Samuel Barnett the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he meant the National Portrait Gallery?

The Nightwatchman said...

I was watching the three part of the PRB series on BBC 4 yesterday and I was fascinated to see how some did use their fame to generate partly the celebratory culture. Yet in some ways, it wrecked the three pillars of Millais - going to create chocolate box images e.g. Pears soap, Holman Hunt's religious imagery and Rossetti's lost into Sensualism.

I am sure that a good case can be made for most people being party to this celebratory culutre e.g. Frances Somerset portrait at the NPG. Lovely looking picture, looking like butter would not melt in her mouth, but then it might have been before the poison trial. Beau Brummel in Regency times and again in Victorian times, you have a hunger for larger than life characters. One of my favourite is Thomas Cochrane, who was the model for Hornblower and Aubrey.

Going back to the programme, I founded out that picture would go on tour and audience would pay to see them. No wonder there were a lot of art galleries build at the end of 19th Century for education improvement.

Anonymous said...

It does, in a way, seem a shame that the BBC (well, not just the BBC) have to try to make everything "relevant" to modern society in order for it to reach the general public. Not that the PRB aren't relevant, but sometimes they overstretch that angle and go for the "shock" stories rather than the really interesting stuff. That said, I'm going to see the previews of "Desperate Romantics" in London soon and can't wait!

The Nightwatchman said...

Oh dear. Just watched the first episode last night. Nice production values though.