Friday, 29 April 2016

REVIEW - A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRINCESS X (GABRIEL ABRANTES)


In reverence and irreverence, through profundity and vulgarity, Gabriel Abrantes imagines a six-minute stand around a sculpture. He observes Constantin Brancusi's most misunderstood work, a bust of Marie Bonaparte, with an informed mind, however, though the thoughts and opinions with which he infuses this short film align nicely with his light, nonchalant style. As such, A Brief History of Princess X examines not only its sculptural subject, but also the process of conducting such an examination. Here we see the creation of art - its origins, its intended purposes - and the consumption of art - its presentation, its interpretations, its legacy. Abrantes' lighthearted tone turns flippant in his narration, which sets this short out on unstable, unpromising grounds; only in the final few moments does an acknowledgement of Brancusi's achievements, and - more pointedly - of their underappreciation in the public arena, excuse the film's jaunts into juvenility. Yet even these are understandable, as A Brief History of Princess X is equally about perception of 'Princess X' as it is about its true beauty, itself only fully fathomable when one is able to consider that perception, and to know the facts of its creation, all smartly delineated in Abrantes' film. Production values are solid, no more nor less opulent than is required for a film of this duration and of this style. Keep an eye out for a few familiar names in the credits, and you'll realise that this film's qualities are by no means accidental. A little context goes a long way.