Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War
The first full-length feature documentary about the titular landscape artist, Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War explores his life, as told through a combination of previously unseen correspondence and his artwork, chronicling the ways he changed as a person and a creative before his untimely death in 1942. These accounts of Eric’s life feed into discussions about his work, as well as wider conversations about what it means to be a war artist; creators such as Grayson Perry and Ai Weiwei give their opinions on Eric’s paintings and offer insights into the artistic process.
Befitting of a documentary exploring the life of an artist, this is a film with very strong visuals, making full use of Ravilious’s art alongside shots of the landscapes that inspired the pieces. The documentary gives the artwork a new lease on life, which makes for a very engaging and constantly fresh visual experience that serves as an excellent tribute to the artist. In a way, the production acts as a vehicle to bring Ravilious into the future he never got to see, through his work and the conversations it inspires.
The film is also very comprehensive, making full use of its subject’s correspondence and work to tell the story of his life in as much detail as possible. The editing is impressive, creating a coherent and thorough narrative from a relatively limited pool of resources and effectively chronicling the effects that World War II had on the artist and his loved ones. However, this attention to detail works to the documentary’s detriment as much as it does to its advantage, and it suffers from very slow pacing in certain areas. While this feels, in part, that it’s by design, giving 39 years of life the space and attention they deserve, it also makes the film as a whole feel much longer than its 90-minute runtime.
Overall, Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War is a touching tribute to a life cut tragically short, and a fascinating insight into the artistic process as a whole. Though it can be somewhat demanding of its audience in places, and very confident but uncompromising in its pacing, for audiences willing to meet the piece halfway there’s a deeply compelling story at its heart, full of love and loss.
Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War is released in select cinemas on 1st July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War here: