What You Need To Know:
An intriguing but flawed reflection of life in the 1600s, ARTEMISIA depicts a young woman's extraordinary talent and passion for painting in 1610 Rome. ARTEMISIA includes excessive sexual situations and full nudity.
(Ab, Ro, C, V, SS, NNN, M) Amoral worldview with romantic characters and some religious overtones; no obscenities or profanities; one scene where character is tortured by having her hands twisted; extramarital sex & several sexual scenes including glimpses through window of Renaissance painters having an orgy; scenes with upper female & full male nudity; and, torture & disobedience to the legitimate moral authority of the Church.
ARTEMISIA, a French film with English subtitles, is the intriguing story of a young woman’s extraordinary talent and passion for painting in 1610 Rome. A detailed portrait of Renaissance painters at work, it is marred by excessive sexual situations and nudity.
Residing in a convent as she focuses on her drawings, 17-year-old Artemisia (Valentina Cervi) stirs the clergy when they find a nude portrait that she painted of herself by using a mirror. Her elderly father, Orazio Gentileschi (Michel Serrault), a renowned Roman painter, finally realizes his daughter’s talent and takes her out of the convent to work with him.
Artemisia is fascinated by the intricacy and beauty of the human body and progresses to painting nude male bodies by getting a fisherman friend, Fulvio, to pose for her. Society frowns on her actions, however: painting is not considered suitable for women as a profession, much less when drawing nude portraits. Despite the difficulty in getting acknowledged for her talent, Artemisia continues to persevere in expressing her talent. Meanwhile, her father Orazio gets a papal commission to paint frescoes in a large church together with a popular Florentine painter, Agostino Tassi (Miki Manojlovic). Having learned as much as she can from her father, Artemisia wants to become a student of Agostino to learn different techniques. Her father persuades Agostino to take his daughter on as his pupil.
Agostino opens up a whole new world to Artemisia, teaching her how to paint landscapes as well as figures. Their relationship becomes more than just a professional one, however. When her father finds them together in a compromising position, he is outraged and accuses Agostino of raping his daughter in the hopes of getting him to marry her and save her honor. Artemisia and her father quickly find out that Agostino is already married, though separated. Agostino is put in jail to await trial. At the trial, Artemisia endures torture of her hands in order to force her to testify that Agostino raped her. The final climax of the film is how will Artemisia and Agostino react to this torture.
Surprisingly, ARTEMISIA is tastefully done despite its sexual content and nudity. It offers the audience an opportunity to see the struggles of a female artist desiring to be acknowledged for her incredible talent in 1610 Rome. She contends that her fascination with the human body is artistic, not sexual, though reading the Bible would have helped her to understand the flimsiness of her rationale.
Valentina Corvi does an excellent job as the impassioned and driven Artemisia. Michel Serrault and Miki Manojlovic also put in good performances as Orazio and Agostino, respectively. Director Agnes Merlet’s attention to detail contributes to the overall strength of the film.
An interesting reflection of life in the 1600s, ARTEMISIA skillfully depicts how society regarded and treated women. Accompanied by excessive scenes of nudity and sexual immorality, the film appears to take an immoral stance regarding such nudity and immorality. It seems to offer nothing more than the romantic attitudes of its main characters, who value human feelings above God’s moral demands.