video, 55 minutes, $29.95
This is an interesting introduction to Monet's garden in that we have not one but a number of narrator-hosts, each with a personal knowledge of the garden, each with a perspective very different from the rest. Some are artists and photographers, one is the head gardener at Giverny and two are relatives of Monet who knew him as children. Some of them provide impressions of Monet and his art, while others offer impressions of the garden. The result is a composite picture of Monet's garden as seen from many different points of view.
Monet's step-grandson and his wife reminisce about Monet's habits and idiosyncrasies while they lived with him at Giverny; the head gardener tells us about the work of the garden; one artist rhapsodizes about the glowing colors of Monet's Paint-Box beds, while another admires the Japanese design of the water garden; and a photographer describes Monet's horticultural knowledge of waterlilies, leading to his love affair with that flower. As they speak, the garden evolves gradually from spring through summer and autumn, and we see lovely scenes of it — massed beds dissolving into colorful close-ups of flowers — and often, we even see into Monet's paintings, until finally we witness the garden being put to bed for the winter.
It is a beautiful garden and the photography can be stunning, but I found the overall presentation of this video uneven. Weak transitions between sections and slow going in spots result from some of the narrators being more engrossing than others, a weakness almost inevitable, I suspect, in a production of this kind.
— Jim Kemper