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The Sapphire of St. Louis2015

  • 3.4
In 1741, a ship called the Saphir sets sail from a port in La Rochelle, France on its way to the New World. On board are thirty crewmembers and two hundred seventy-one slaves. Somewhere off the coast of Santo Domingo, a slave revolt erupts. This little-known moment in history was memorialized in an obscure 18th century painting that hangs in the Saint-Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle. Celebrated filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin peers into this painting to vividly re-tell the story, capturing, in the process, a snapshot of the political, historical, economic and social realities of the time. THE SAPPHIRE OF ST. LOUIS is a remarkable documentary that uses a little painting hidden away in a remote cathedral to open a door on a pivotal moment in history.

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Member Reviews (2)

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top reviewer

A terrific little jewel of a movie, one that might, hopefully, encourage viewers to look more closely and attentively at paintings as well as at movies. A fine moment is filmed when the narrator, calling our attention to a small, circular form, finally declares that what it is and how it serves are unknown. Stripped of imaginative interpretations and dramatic conclusions, the movie might well serve as an instructional guide to the protagonist of Guerin's wonderful "In the City of Sylvia." Spruce M.'s review here on fandor.com finely evaluates Guerin's intention and achievement.

A modest film, but very carefully and thoughtfully done. Creative camera work.

Evocative film. Doesn't try to make conclusions beyond the evidence that is clearly there. Respect for history and the loss of lives. Focuses on the painting with no re-enactment. Subtle preservation of history and truth. Something lost in the presumptuous historical films plied for millions by Hollywood.