Sunday 5 May 2013

Chiaroscuro on the Cutty Sark

This frame from Louise Osmond's superb ITN/C4/Nova documentary "The Search for the North West Passage" brings to mind an artistic technique beloved of renaissance masters such as Caravaggio. Chiaroscuro, or in its most developed form Tenebrism, enhances the drama of an image through extreme contrasts of light and darkness. The dramatised scenes in this documentary are a tour de force. In this scene, shot in the officers saloon of the Cutty Sark, Anthony Gardner makes a very convincing Sir John Franklin. I have however noticed three minor mistakes. If anyone would like to suggest what they are then please go ahead. I'll add my answers in a couple of days. 


  1. They haven't epaulettes and likely an officer shouldn't wear a beard.

  2. Actually they are wearing epaulettes -- just a little hard to see in the dark. Interestingly, in the UK version the voiceover covers up much of Franklin's talking about his starvation experience and the virtues of tinned foods, whereas in the US you get to hear him speak!

    Regulations on beards may well not have been enforced in the Arctic, I suspect!

  3. There seems to be a glass of wine on the table. If Sir John was a teetotaler, perhaps he wouldn't have allowed that near him. (?)
    Also, if the man with the long-ish straight hair is supposed to be Commander Fitzjames, as the documentation suggests, he looks very different from the one in the original photo.
    That's all I can spot here. What are the minor mistakes you've spotted? I'm curious to know, please tell us soon.


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