Da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa is perhaps the single most talked about painting in the history of visual art. His painting has been the topic of discussion for ages largely because of the mystery surrounding the identity of the woman behind the painting. Experts, critics and average art lovers alike were confounded by her identity for quite some time. But now that that mystery has seemingly been solved, there is still another mystery that remains about the Mona Lisa. That mystery is whether or not the painting that hangs today in the Louvre is in fact the real deal or a very convincing counterfeit. That’s right. As it turns out, there is a second Mona Lisa painting that many never knew about until recent history. And the two paintings are the subject of the latest episode of PBS’ hit series Secrets of the Dead. As a matter of fact, they are the center of why anyone with any appreciation of art and art history will want to see this episode now that it is on DVD. The very discussion itself on whether the two paintings were crafted by the same man or by separate individuals is only the start of why audiences will want to watch this episode of Secrets of the Dead. The depth of the arguments and the evidence provided for said arguments makes the program even more engaging. This is the case even for viewers that might not be so familiar with the art world. And last but not least of all to consider in this episode’s success is the tasteful use of re-enactments throughout the course of the program. Altogether, these factors make The Mona Lisa Mystery another example of what makes Secrets of The Dead another great addition to PBS’ schedule.
The central discussion on which The Mona Lisa Mystery is based is key to the program’s overall success and enjoyment. It doesn’t waste any time on the oft discussed topic of the picture’s subject. Rather, it focuses on the far lesser known story of the second Mona Lisa painting. That’s right. What few people other than perhaps the most avid art lovers know about the Mona Lisa is that there were not one but two Mona Lisa paintings crafted. This program aims to try and figure out if one of those paintings was a fake or if perhaps Da Vinci painted both of them and the one hanging at the Louvre is actually one of that pair potentially painted by one of the greatest artists in history. It makes for a great introduction into what is one of history’s lesser known mysteries. And that’s only the beginning (bad pun fully intended) of what makes this DVD worth checking out. The sheer depth of the evidence provided in the arguments and the arguments themselves make add to the interest of this mystery.
The arguments provided throughout this episode of Secrets of the Dead are an important piece of the whole as is the evidence provided for those arguments. Simply put, there is no bias one way or the other concerning the validity of the second Mona Lisa or lack thereof. Arguments are made supporting the possibility that Da Vinci could have painted both versions of the Mona Lisa with one having been painted on one canvas and the other having been potentially painted on a completely different canvas years later. This argument states that perhaps Da Vinci was unhappy with his original and only pulled it back out years later and used it as a model for the second one, thus attempting to explain away the differences in background, etc. Another argument alleges that not Da Vinci but another artist painted the second Mona Lisa having seen the original in its incomplete state. The painter in question is another of the more well-known names in the art world. And a third argument alleges that maybe, just maybe, a far less well-known individual had painted the second Mona Lisa. Again, none of these arguments is ever definitively confirmed. However, the evidence used in each of those arguments is quite compelling to say the very least. In depth information regarding dates of the paintings’ creation and carbon dating used to confirm said dating are just some of that evidence. It definitely leaves on wondering in the best way possible. It’s one more reason that audiences will enjoy this episode of Secrets of the Dead regardless if they are art lovers, history lovers, or just audiences looking for a worthwhile respite from all of the brainless “reality shows,” and overly violent and over sexed dramas and comedies that fill television’s spectrum.
The arguments presented in this program and the evidence used to support said arguments are integral to the program’s overall success. They leave audiences scratching their heads and wondering in the very best way possible. That along with the very fact that the program focuses primarily on the mystery of the paintings will most definitely keep audiences engaged throughout this program. There is still one more factor to consider in what makes The Mona Lisa Mystery work as well as it does. That last factor is the minimalist use of re-enactments. Those behind the program’s creation kept the re-enactments to a minimum. Instead, they let the program speak for itself, which it does and quite well at that. The re-enactments that are used are incorporated primarily for the purpose of illustrating specific arguments. Other than that, their use is kept to a very limited space. It’s one more way that PBS continues to prove why it is the gold standard for anyone wanting real educational content now that History Channel,TLC, Discovery and certain other channels of that ilk are but pale shadows of what they once were. And it is that alongside the solid and valid arguments and their evidence that completes The Mona Lisa Mystery, making it one of the best episodes yet of Secrets of the Dead.
Secrets of the Dead: The Mona Lisa Mystery is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=38349356&cp=&sr=1&kw=secrets+of+the+dead&origkw=Secrets+of+the+Dead&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online at the official Secrets of the Dead Facebook page and website at http://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead and http://pbs.org/secrets. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com./