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Well, luckily for us, the Mayans were wrong
and it didn't all end in 2012.
So here we are, back with a bang, braving the elements
to bring you a brand new series of The Culture Show
with the very best of the arts in 2013.
'Tonight, Unexpected Lessons In Love,
'the lowdown on Pride And Prejudice
'and the biggest manhunt of all time.'
But we're going to warm up, I hope,
with the first blockbuster exhibition of the year.
The Royal Academy is staging a major exhibition of portraits
by the great 19th-century French artist Edouard Manet.
As the organisers put the finishing touches to the show,
I went along to take a look at the lives and loves of Manet's Paris.
"Painting begins with Manet."
So said another celebrated French artist, Paul Gauguin.
High praise, indeed.
As Paris steamed into the modern age
in the second half of the 19th century,
Edouard Manet painted life as HE saw it,
restlessly breaking with accepted artistic conventions.
In his lifetime, Manet was viciously attacked by conservative critics of the day.
Others, especially novelists, poets, his fellow painters,
revered him, both as the founder of Impressionism
and as a father of Modern Art.
Manet's less well known for his portraits,
but as this absorbing exhibition shows,
he ingeniously blurred the line between portraiture
and scenes of everyday life,
transforming the very idea of what a portrait might be.
Take this deeply disconcerting,
deliberately bewildering masterpiece of 1862,
Music In The Tuileries Gardens.
Manet shows us a gathering of fashionable Parisians
in a little garden just between la Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.
This is a painting of modern life. How does Manet see modern life?
I think he sees it as a blur, as a chaos,
as a constant experience of walking through the gardens,
the streets of this new metropolis.
Everywhere you look, you see people.
Do you know them? Do you not know them?
Then gradually, as you become accustomed
to the apparent formlessness of the picture,
you realise that people's faces begin to jump out at you,
and they are recognisable faces.
Here is Offenbach, the composer.
Here's Manet's brother.
Here, right at the edge, is Manet himself.
Look at this lady's face.
She is Valentine Lejosne.
Then, move up, and who's that?
That blurred face.
That's Charles Baudelaire, the greatest critic of the 19th century,
and it was in her house that Manet met Baudelaire.
And that was absolutely key to him.
Baudelaire's essay on the painting of modern life,
in which Baudelaire argued that modernity is the fleeting,
the transitory, the contingent.
That became Manet's bible.
Manet WAS Baudelaire's painter of modern life.
What looks like a chaotically random depiction of a sea of humanity
is, in fact, a carefully planned assault
on all of the existing conventions of portraiture
and group portraiture.
Throwing his friends into the maelstrom of city life was itself highly unusual.
It was also the striking way Manet captured individual subjects
that was revolutionary.
Meet Berthe Morisot,
the poster girl of the exhibition, and you can see why.
What a wonderfully fresh, informal, intimate portrait this is.
What's remarkable about the pose is how unposed it is.
Looking at the painting, you feel as if you've just chanced upon her, perhaps at some gathering,
she's caught your eye, she's ready to strike up conversation.
There's none of that stayed, school photograph formality
of the portraiture of the past.
I think the blacks and whites of the image
very much suggest Manet's interest in photography.
He was fascinated by the way particularly blurred photographs
seem to confront you with the image of someone
who's moving as you speak to them,
and he's created his own equivalent to that blurring effect
in his handling of paint.
What's also new about the picture, I think, is "the gaze"
with which she confronts you, she meets you.
As a new kind of woman, bohemian, independent,
as Morisot was herself, a painter.
She is looking at Manet. He is looking at her. And they're equals.
As he looked to push the limits of portraiture ever further,
Manet's habit of painting people he knew allowed for great intimacy
and freedom on the canvas.
Victorine Meurent was his favourite model
and the main subject of some of his most controversial works.
Here, she's a hard-faced prostitute greeting another client.
But she appears again in the Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe.
This picture is a later and slightly sketchier, smaller version
of the original Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe in the Musee D'Orsay, but it's every bit as shocking.
Here, we see Victorine completely naked,
having a picnic with two fully clothed Parisian gentlemen,
while her scantily clad companion bathes in the background.
Manet based it on Renaissance images of the legendary Arcadia,
a rural paradise peopled by nymphs and shepherds,
where men go to retune their troubled souls.
It's as if Manet's asking, "What would that paradise be now,
"in 19th-century France?"
Manet's trying to distance himself from the myths of the past
and present a thoroughly disenchanted,
disconcerting view of present reality.
Manet said, "It has always been my ambition not to remain the same,
"constantly to be inspired by something new,
"to register a new note."
His determination to stay fresh is reflected
in one of the most enigmatic works in the show.
What a radiant, haunting picture to leave us with.
From the National Gallery of Art in Washington, it's the Railway of 1873.
Once again, Manet has taken an existing convention of portraiture,
here it's the mother-daughter portrait,
and he's turned it on its head, turned it inside-out.
They're not even mother and daughter.
That's Victorine Meurent once again.
The little girl is the daughter of Manet's neighbour.
And even more radically,
he's turned her AWAY from the viewer.
It's a portrait in which you can't see the girl's face.
Normally, mother and daughter would have been placed indoors,
seated beside one another, perhaps on a chaise longue.
But here, Manet's taken them outside and he's perched them
on the edge of the pit of that great inferno, the Gare St Lazare,
Paris's biggest railway station.
And I think what he's doing is he's making us think,
once again, about the nature of modern life.
This little girl, if she has to learn one thing,
it's that she doesn't know what this turbulent future holds.
That, for Manet, is the essence of modern life.
And I think it's as true for 2013 as it was for 1873.
Manet didn't just change portrait painting,
he didn't just change painting,
he changed the very way in which we think about ourselves
and about our world.
Manet Portraying Life opens on Saturday
and continues here at the Royal Academy until 26th April.
Next, film director Kathryn Bigelow,
much celebrated as the only woman ever to win the Oscar for Best Director
back in 2008 with The Hurt Locker.
Her new film is based on the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Zero Dark 30 has already caused a huge stir everywhere from Washington to Waziristan.
Amidst the rumour and controversy, Mark Kermode caught up with her.
Are you ready back there?
OK. And, action.
'Undercover CIA operations have an enduring appeal for filmmakers.
'You know the drill - the maverick agent with the questionable past,
'determined to win the game - but then, that's just Hollywood.
'Or is it?'
With any depiction of the CIA, on film or television,
there's always a tension between hard fact and dramatic fiction.
'In Zero Dark 30, Kathryn Bigelow has chosen a mission
'that ended in one of the most reported moments in CIA history...'
-We will never find him.
-'..the hunt for Osama bin Laden.'
He's one of the disappeared ones.
Dramatising such an important news story so soon after it happened
is both bold and provocative - qualities we've come to admire in Kathryn Bigelow.
Unsurprisingly, Zero Dark 30 has itself made headlines,
becoming the centre of a media storm about the depiction of torture
and the uneasy relationship between journalism and drama.
For her detractors, Bigelow's movie is nothing short of militarist propaganda.
For the director, the heart of the story was always its human aspect,
taking us deep into the murky waters of the war on terror
as seen through the eyes of a tough female protagonist.
Kathryn, when you started making Zero Dark 30,
it was about the failed hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
Whilst you were doing that, they found him.
How did that change what you were working on?
Well, about two-thirds of the way through that screenplay,
May 1st 2011 happened, and so history necessitated
a rather sizeable pivot.
The intelligence hunt became the predominant story
and the individuals at the heart of that operation.
Now, the movie only looks at a handful of people.
It's meant to represent the hundreds of people in that operation.
What was interesting was the psychology behind those individuals in the intelligence community.
In that what does it take for somebody to have that kind of drive
and dedication and determination and courage?
'Amongst the tenacious agents involved in this sprawling operation
'it's a woman who holds the key.'
You got a phone call. "Get your ass to Islamabad!"
'Maya is played by Jessica Chastain, reportedly based on the life
'of a real operative still working undercover.
'She's young, fiercely determined and focused
'on what is a professional and personal mission to find bin Laden.'
The publicity surrounding the movie has centred on the politics,
but it seemed to me that the centre of the drama
is what happens to Jessica Chastain's character and how we see the world through her eyes.
Oh, absolutely. She is through whom you experience this intelligence hunt.
And certainly as a filmmaker, what was interesting to me
was to put you in her shoes.
Third floor, north-east corner.
'I think that's the way you experience the arduousness
'and complexity of that operation.'
You don't think she's a little young for the hard stuff?
Washington says she's a killer.
It's an interesting psychology to observe.
How important or coincidental was it that she's a woman?
Well, it so happened that she was a woman.
'There were many women at the heart of this operation.'
There are two narratives about the location of Osama bin Laden.
'Had it been a man, we would have... we definitely would have...'
The story would have revolved around a man.
Ironically, I was surprised that I was surprised that there were women at the heart of this operation.
The second narrative is that he's living in a city.
Living in a city with multiple points of egress and entry,
access to communications so that he can keep in touch with the organisation.
You can't run a global network of interconnected cells from a cave.
'The controversy surrounding the portrayal of CIA methods,
'including waterboarding, has reached the highest echelons of US politics.
'Alongside an investigation by the Senate's Intelligence Committee,
'the CIA itself has seemingly gone from collaborator to critic.
'Highly contentious statements have been published, accusing the film of validating torture.
'But in a recent open letter to the LA Times,
'Bigelow has emphasised that depiction is not endorsement.'
People have accused you of either glorifying or justifying torture.
I was quite shocked at those allegations.
How do you feel, and how do you answer them?
I knew, going into it, it was going to be controversial.
I was... I was surprised at the, um...
..at the degree of controversy.
The harsh tactics were employed and are part of that story.
To have eliminated it would have been a matter of whitewashing history.
I think it's important to look at some regrettable acts
that were utilised in the name of finding bin Laden.
Policies need to be examined and debated.
And I think the debate about... enhanced interrogation techniques
is going to be a long and arduous one.
-Kathryn Bigelow, thank you very much.
-Thank you very much.
Zero Dark 30 is in cinemas on Friday.
Next tonight, writers Margaret Drabble and Bernadine Bishop
met when they were students and have been friends ever since.
Bernadine's latest novel was published last week, and it's already been much admired
for its tender treatment of lives lived with severe illness.
Margaret met her old friend to find out how she tackled some of the last taboos of modern life.
As a student at Cambridge, I pursued my love of literature and books.
My friend Bernadine and I were both very keen to be writers.
It was the early '60s and a thrilling time to be a young woman.
Change was in the air and we felt we had the world at our feet.
We both published, but while I continued,
Bernadine's career went in other directions.
She stopped writing.
50 years later, a new novel by my friend Bernadine Bishop
arrived in my inbox.
Of course, I read it immediately.
Couldn't stop reading it, and it was so good that I told her she MUST get it published.
Unexpected Lessons In Love is a funny and moving novel about cancer.
Cecilia Banks, like Bernadine, is a retired psychotherapist,
coming to terms with her life-threatening illness.
Bernadine's lived almost a lifetime between books
and it took a life-changing event to get my old friend writing fiction again.
-Cold out. I'll shut the door.
-Shut the door.
-And we can go into the warm.
Bernadine, what was it that prompted you to start writing again
after a lot of time had passed?
Um... I didn't know I was going to.
A friend of mine
had always maintained that when I retired I would write.
When I was hounded out of the profession by cancer,
I thought, "Now I'm going to start the novel."
So it was a cancer-inspired novel.
It gave you both the, um... the space to write it in...
-..and also your subject matter.
I thought it would be nice for people to hear women talk about it
in a perfectly ordinary, funny way.
Why did you create two characters who had exactly the same physical condition -
the colostomy or, as you call it in the profession, the stoma?
I think that was partly geared by the fact that I so wanted
-to have a stoma friend.
-And I didn't have one.
In a sense, the writing of your novel became your stoma friend.
-This was the place you were able to express your feelings.
-To describe things that perhaps even
-might not have liked to listen to in such detail.
One friend said, "This is not a novel for the squeamish."
That had never occurred to me.
Because, of course, psychotherapists are never...
If we were ever squeamish, we grow out of it when we're in our first year of training.
'Bernadine's always been unshockable.
'That stood her in good stead when, in 1960, she was caught up
'in the most famous literary court case of the century,
'which changed the face of publishing for ever.'
You appeared in the Lady Chatterley trial.
Since then, the whole area of what's sayable in the novel has changed.
I think the zeitgeist was there already.
The Lady Chatterley trial was part of the zeitgeist.
-Something was beginning to happen?
I do remember at that period, on Woman's Hour,
you weren't allowed to mention the word "breast" or "cancer".
-Were you not?
-No. They were taken out.
-But you know, the other day, they let me say "shit" on Woman's Hour.
"It was a year after her operation
"that Helen first met someone else with a colostomy.
"She had learnt that there are 60,000 people in the UK who have one,
"but she knew, or even knew of, no such fellow sufferer.
"Of all the versions of cancer that are hearsay among non-medical people,
"it was the version Helen had always dreaded the most.
"She was not alone in this
"and had to watch a mirror image of her own shock and disbelief
"on friends' faces when she told them."
You've used the word "joy" about writing your novels.
It's rather remarkable to have so much joy coming through illness
-and at the end of one's life.
I'm very fortunate in those respects.
It sounds to me as though you're on an on-going journey of discovery.
I think I am. Yes.
And sometimes, I feel so terrible about dying and death.
Um... And I just have to lie there on my day bed
going down, going down, going down,
until I can go no further.
And then, at the moment when I can go no further...
..there's wings underneath me.
-I don't know where they come from.
-A light breaks through the clouds a bit?
A light breaks through the clouds and I just feel better.
"What I'm agonising with is the pain of fear of pain.
"Not the pain of pain itself.
"And who knows but what it goes on like that each day?
"Each day, of itself, bearable."
We know that since you finished Unexpected, you've written two more novels.
These novels now will make their own way.
They will live on.
There's something rather wonderful about that, that they will reach forth into the future.
-There they will go.
-They will go their own way.
And Unexpected Lessons In Love is out now.
Next, to one of the great novels of the past, a literary masterpiece
that's stood the test of time for two centuries -
Pride And Prejudice.
Jane Austen aficionado John Mullan explores the novel's many reincarnations on screen.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged
"that a single man in possession of a good fortune
"must be in want of a wife."
It's exactly 200 years since one of the world's best-loved novels,
Pride And Prejudice, was first published.
A best-seller from its first edition in 1813,
Jane Austen's classic has captivated us ever since -
on the page, but also on the screen.
'In fact, our obsession with the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy
'has led to no fewer than nine major TV and film adaptations.
'There's even been a Bollywood version,
'complete with songs and saris.
'So what is it about Pride And Prejudice that keeps us reinterpreting it?'
It's often said that it's the novel's big themes -
love and marriage, property and money - that make it timelessly popular.
But plenty of novels talk about these.
I think Pride And Prejudice is special because Austen manages
to make her characters' concerns about money or hopes for love
seem just as believable as our own.
'Each adaptation is a new reading of the book,
'reflecting its own time.
'The Bennet sisters have been portrayed as country house genteel,
'but also impoverished and down-at-heel.
'While the matriarch, obsessed with her daughters' marriage prospects,
'has been played as everything from giddy and twittering
'to downright hysterical.'
Oh! My poor child!
Now, all that remains are your other daughters...
'But in the 1980 adaptation by feminist writer Fay Weldon,
'we get an altogether tougher, more resilient Mrs Bennet.'
-It is insupportable.
You forced me into visiting him last year and promised me that he would marry one of my daughters.
It ended in nothing and I will not be sent on a fool's errand again!
-shall invite Mr Bingley.
Mrs Bennet is one of the most deliciously foolish humans in all fiction.
"Invariably silly" is how her author describes her.
In this version, she's played as more forceful and less hysterical.
Foolish still, but able to stand up to her husband.
A Mrs Bennet reimagined for a post-feminist age, if you like.
'The central figure in Pride And Prejudice
'is, of course, Elizabeth Bennet.
'Played as arch and knowing,
'or rebellious tomboy
'and as the epitome of Hollywood glamour.
'Greer Garson opposite Lawrence Olivier
'in the first film of the book in 1940.
'For a country at war, this was all about romantic escapism.
'Here, the Netherfield ball is reimagined as a giant garden party,
'where Mr Darcy challenges Elizabeth to an archery contest.'
'The archery contest is an invented scene,
'but it does play on the very thing that makes Elizabeth Bennet
'the best-loved heroine in English fiction.'
And another bull's-eye.
What's so clever about the book is that whilst Elizabeth says and thinks that she dislikes Mr Darcy,
we the readers are allowed to suspect otherwise.
They may not shoot arrows against each other in the book,
but they duel in another way - with words.
It's by observing how they compete together as equals
that we come to realise that Elizabeth and Mr Darcy
are meant for each other.
'Modern adaptations have played up the mounting sexual tension.
'In the 1995 TV series,
'Colin Firth sent a generation of women into raptures
'over his portrayal of a seductive hero.'
What people don't always realise is that Pride And Prejudice is actually full of sex,
it's just that allusions to it are quite subtle.
The encounter at Pemberley is actually quite physical in the book.
It's the only time in all Jane Austen's fiction
when a woman and a man are said to blush together.
'The wet shirt scene is the adapter's way of showing
'what the reader can glimpse -'
That Mr Darcy is not so buttoned-up after all,
that there is a sensualist underneath.
'As for the ending,
'you don't get THIS in the book.
'But on screen, it has to be sealed with a kiss.'
It's no wonder that Pride And Prejudice has been re-made so many times.
Consummately well written, it has a beautiful plot,
crackling dialogue and characters with a matchless range of absurdities.
Each generation has interpreted the book to suit their own age,
confident that Austen could reflect their own ideals,
their values and even their prejudices.
We've had wartime escapism and 1980s feminism,
gritty realism and colourful Bollywood.
And now, this perfect novel
patiently awaits the next adaptation to come along.
That's it for tonight. We'll be back next week with Tom Dyckhoff hosting a design special,
featuring futurology, football and fashion.
But to play us out, here's some photography by the ground-breaking Juergen Teller,
whose major solo exhibition opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts today. Good night.
# I turn my camera on
# I cut my fingers on the way
# On the way The way I'm slipping away
# I turn my feelings off
# You made me untouchable for life
# And you wasn't polite
# Hit me like a tom
# You hit me like a tom
# You hit me like a tom... #
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