M. C. Escher is best known for his tessellations and for his
"Impossible" structures. Strangely, he did not think of himself as
an artist, but as a mathematician, not realizing one can be more of
the one if one is also the other. There is no narrator per se;
this documentary is told entirely in the words of Escher himself
(from letters and diaries) along with comments by family, friends,
and admirers. One of the latter is Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills
& Nash. Escher's own words are voiced by Stephen Fry.
The film covers Escher's entire career, from early "realistic"
works through his branching out into more mathematical and surreal
art, always in woodcuts, lithographs, or drawings rather than
paintings. Later in his career we see the complexities when some
of these geometric patterns meet Nazi politics.
Escher's work was (adopted by hippies in the 1960s, done as posters
in fluorescent colors intended to be seen under black light.
Escher himself couldn't understand what they saw in his work, since
he saw his work as supremely rational and structured, and the
hippies as being opposed to all this.
One example of Escher's influence on popular culture is shown as
the "Penrose Stairs" sequence in the film INCEPTION. (In the
credits, Sir Roger Penrose is listed as the patron of the
documentary.) The Escher portrayal is titled "Ascending and
Descending", though it is often called just "Penrose Stairs".
Another Escher reference is the sequence from LABYRINTH copied from
Escher's "Relativity", a lithograph showing staircases at various
angles with contradictory gravities. A hint is also seen in THE
NAME OF THE ROSE, though without the impossible physics.
("Relativity" seems to be a much more structured variant on his
earlier "High and Low" and "house of Stairs" and used later in
"Convex and Concave".)
Escher himself summed up his work by saying, "[Other artists] they
pursue beauty, I pursue wonder." Oh, and you will definitely want
to sit through the credits.
(THE GRAPHIC WORK OF M. C. ESCHER divides Escher's major works into
nine categories: "Regular Division of a Plane", "Unlimited Spaces",
"Spatial Rings and Spirals", "Mirror Images", "Inversion",
"Polyhedrons", "Relativities", "Conflict Flat-Spatial", and
Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Film Credits: <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8297550/reference>
What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mc_escher_journey_to_infinity>
Mark R. Leeper
Pretty easy to see why hippies latched on to his work.
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