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Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island

Made for the BBC series Close Up, the 46-minute documentary Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island is a fine companion to Ed Harris's sympathetic yet unvarnished 2000 biopic Pollock. Jackson Pollock, of course, was the Wyoming-born painter who, after years of doing rather lame abstract paintings in New York City, came to prominence in the late '40s with work born of his drip painting technique, which gave him a profound form of personal expression, but which also became a emblem for those decrying the pretensions of the post-war art world. His prestige was validated by a Life magazine story, which made him a superstar, but his fame and work came to a crisis point , and in 1956 the alcoholic painter died in a car accident that also injured Ruth Kligman, his co-ed lover at the time, and killed her best friend. Much of this material is also covered in Harris's movie, but here the viewer can enjoy the testimony of actual participants in his life. Among them are Pollock's wife and main advocate, Lee Krasner, also a painter (presented in an archival television interview), but also Kligman, the "other woman," who gives an alternative to the prettied up romantic version of Pollock's marriage to Krasner. Other interviewees include various friends, painters, and critics, plus Ed Harris, then immersed in the making of his movie. Also on hand is footage from the famous documentary profile of Pollock, which various interviewees say boosted Pollock's reputation, but also unnerved him. Self-doubts about his work as seen through the eyes of the camera inspired the painter's falling off the wagon, culminating in his death. Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island is narrated by Neil Pearson and directed by Teresa Griffiths, with a moving music score by Andy Cowton. Home Vision Entertainment's single-sided, singled-layered disc offers an impeccable transfer of the full frame TV doc (1.33:1), though the footage from the early profile of Pollock is grainy and "ghosty." Audio is a solid Digital Dolby 2.0 mono. There are no extras, but there is a folded mini-poster of the film enclosed in the keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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