Picturing the Presidents

I wonder how many people still get actual portraits painted of them.  I know there are always those kitschy, bad art booths in malls and at fairs which will do serious portraits or mocking caricatures, but how many serious portraits are made?  The family group photo is far cheaper and takes up a lot less time, although they often have that creepy, voyeuristic feel when the whole mall of people walking past can see your poses through the huge glass windows.  I’m sure the bastion of the fading rich still keeps some portrait artists in business.  Now there is a new film out about another group who still use those portrait artists for posterity’s sake.

Starting this February 10th, now available on DVD from Infinity Entertainment Group and Smithsonian Network comes the interesting story of our presidents and the official portraits they leave behind.  Picturing The Presidents is ready to stroll purposefully out of your television screen and educate you about something you had most likely not known about or even thought about before.  Bring home this informative and education DVD today!

Every American president sits for an official portrait before they leave office.  That portrait is then displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.  It’s an important tradition and everyone has expectations of what each portrait will look like.  It’s vital to the artist who paints it, the president who poses for it, the fans who want it to be fitting and the detractors who want to find something wrong with it.  As strange as it may seem, these portraits are subject to frequent hot debates.  That’s only the beginning to how interesting this topic gets.

The special features included in this film are that it is presented in 4×3 letterbox with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and includes subtitles.  I’m always a little sad that these quality releases from Smithsonian Network don’t include any real special features.  That would be the straw that made the camel’s back awesome.

With every screener I watch, I become more and more convinced that Smithsonian Networks can do nothing wrong.  A show about the pictures of presidents and where they are displayed – sounds like someone’s about to drop a snooze bomb on you.  Yet it’s informative, educational, interesting and downright captivating.  I used to be skeptical of what’s known as edu-tainment and I still do believe that something need not be entertaining in order to learn.  Maybe I read too much Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan or maybe I’m just a learning slob and want everyone to suffer through education like I did, but my opinion is beginning to change.  If we are able to come up with an exemplary way to teach children that keeps them captivated, much as these magnificent shows from Smithsonian Network do, then we should certainly use them. 

Picture yourself better educated about another slice of American political history.

This DVD is available at Amazon.com.

Nathaniel Jonet

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