Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson

This isn’t a full review, but I wanted you to know about this exquisite new documentary, “The Eloquent Nude” by director Ian McCluskey. Charis Wilson was the subject and model for some of Edwards Weston’s most famous nude studies. She met him when she was 19 and he was 48. First she posed for him, but eventually they fell in love and later married. They became partners in his photography when she wrote the journal entries for his famous Guggenheim trip exploring California. “Eloquent Nude” is a documentary about Charis Wilson and her relationship with Weston.

At the time of the filming, Wilson was 91 years old, physically frail and mostly blind, but still filled with the same fire and strength of intellect she had when she met Weston. The interviews with Wilson are sometimes insightful and spirited and at other times turn wistful and poignant. It’s easy to still see the person that inspired, encouraged, and contributed to one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century. “Eloquent Nude” provides much needed context for both Wilson and Weston, their relationship, and those early years of photography. The recreations of their photography sessions and trips with actors portraying Wilson (Christine Bernsten), Weston (Barrett Rudich), and Ansel Adams (Eric DiIlio) are fascinating and, speaking as a photographer, mostly authentic.

If you get the chance, please see “The Eloquent Nude.” At the moment, it is playing in extremely limited release, but should eventually be released on DVD. Bear in mind, however, that because of the subject matter and the actual Weston photographs, there is full-frontal nudity in this documentary, though it is never salacious or gratuitous. If you get the chance, don’t miss this documentary. It is a beautiful and sensitive film about a fascinating and dynamic woman.

For more information about the documentary and upcoming screenings, click here.

Hermon Joyner

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