This is a feature length documentary which yesterday premiered on UK tv on Sky Arts… and by feature length I mean 2 hours long! This means that it’s by far the longest Banksy related documentary which I have seen, and whilst it does touch on some other artists and the history of graffiti in general (but with a nice focus on the UK scene)… 2 hours is a long time for a documentary. Especially when you don’t really leave it knowing any more than most fans of his art already knew coming in to the film.
It’s a collection of interviews of people who have worked with Banksy throughout his career and I suppose it does give a nice little background on the artist and it does clear up that Banksy is a bloke who takes the main risks, with the support of a team of artists… But again it’s not something which most fans of his work didn’t already know.
One thing which you do realize during this film is that you hear the phrase over and over again that he didn’t do it for the money, he’s not in it for the money, the art scene and the wealth which comes with it is ridiculous… But boy does he earn a lot of money all things considered. There is suddenly a lot of talk of thousands, tens of thousands…. even millions of pounds for paintings.
I don’t have an issue with people earning money from their art… Does he deserve it? Absolutely, I believe he does. He’s innovative and has taken a lot of big risks whilst also clearly working very hard. But I do think that dropping the middle finger to the art world routine could do with being retired now. Even at the end of the documentary we find out that by destroying the painting which got shredded in the auction house he didn’t destroy it at all… The value more than doubled afterwards! At the end of the day he’s a damn clever man who knows how to make a lot of money, and that’s the thing you end up taking home from this documentary… and I’m not convinced that’s the message he was after.
It’s certainly well shot and I think if you aren’t that familiar with the scene it’s a lovely and contemporary insight in to this side of the art world with nods to other names likes Ron English, Bansquiat and Keith Haring, which I think were well placed. For a 2 hour show it was awfully dry though and I think it could have been better turned in to a 2 part series first focusing on the history of the scene and his early days, leading on to a part 2 focusing on the explosion of the Banksy effect.
I’m a huge fan of his art and always have been, I have a couple of cheap prints on my walls at home, but out of all the documentaries I have seen on him I do think that this was the least exciting and least engaging. It could have been a little more gritty to keep hold of that street art feel… To let the audience feel like they really are the naughty boys of the art world rather than just some cheeky little scamps. I actually felt that the documentary about AK47 who stole the Banksy piece “The Drinker” felt a lot more naughty and exciting than this even though the subject matter was absolutely absurd in comparison.
I recon a new interview with Banksy himself even if his face and voice were distorted would be a great touch for any future documentary. Rather than just an actor reading something which he already said ages ago.
I really don’t think they did him justice in this one and the only reason it got an ok rating from me is because it had such an interesting feature about the early start of the Bristol graffiti scene.