VIFF 2017: Bosch: The Garden of Dreams goes deep inside an enigma

(Spain/France)

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      If ever a painting deserved this kind of detailed investigation—via X-rays, experts, and admirers from Salman Rushdie to Orhan Pamuk—it is Hieronymus Bosch’s wild, confounding, and erotically bedazzling triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

      José Luis López-Linares’s documentary lingers on every fascinating detail of the 16th-century masterwork—from couples copulating in mussel shells to naked men riding unicorns. He juxtaposes them effectively with images from nature, Woodstock-like gatherings, and surrealist film of the last century. Was the triptych a warning against sin, a celebration of earthly abandon, or simply a rendering of some grand fever dream? It’s a tantalizing enigma for the ages—one that not even a film this exhaustive can answer.

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