Acorn is set to release what I consider to be a masterpiece in the world of documentaries. If you love art, this is one DVD set that you will want in your collection.

Much has been made of the supposed secret messages found within the paintings by Da Vinci, author Dan Brown has created an entire industry around the idea. Every where you look there are people theorizing about the deeper meanings.

Art and mystery does go hand in hand. I often look at a work of art and wonder what the background story might be. What is the artist trying to tell us? Did he or she merely paint for the aesthetics, or is there a story behind the work? In school I hated English Literature, the dissecting of an authors book always seemed so banal and unnecessary. Could the author not just have written the story for the reader to enjoy?

When I became a book reviewer I somewhat tempered my ideas, yes it is possible for the author to have a message, one that can be uncovered if you know where to look, the problem is that people, mainly teachers look in all the wrong places.

How many high schoolers have had to dissect Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. Millions is my guess. But the key to Orwell is not in those two books, in my mind both were throw aways. If you really want to understand Orwell read The Road To Wigan Pier, or Keep The Aspidistra Flying.

The art world is the same, not every picture has a story, but some do, and those stories are as compendious as any dissection of a book.

Every Picture Tells A Story is an opus. Art historian Waldemar Januszczak takes us on a journey of discovery. He explores 8 world famous paintings, by 8 world famous artists. My normal approach to a DVD review is watch it once and hit the keyboard and pound out a review. I have watched this set at least 3 times, and every time I watch it I pick up something new.

Even people who are not art fans have heard the questions about the ‘Mona Liza’ and her inscrutable smile, whole books have been written on the subject. However there is much more to this story than just her smile.

I am not sure which of the 8 paintings and painters profiled is the best story, they are all engaging. They are all very well reasoned, and very thought provoking.

I hope to have a full review running in about a week. But let me say this, I have watched many programs about art, but this one takes the prize. Being a Brit, with a Brit accent, and on occasion have been accused of being Robin Leach in disguise I will close by saying ‘This is lifestyles of the mostly poor and artistic’!

Simon Barrett

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