With a fan’s perspective and loving eye, filmmakers Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont offer a warm look at the work of famed Toronto painter, Lawren Harris. One of the founding members of the Group of Seven, and a popular painter both in his time and beyond, though primarily in Canada, Harris was an affluent, curious, and somewhat rebellious artist at the turn of the 20th century.
Where the Universe Sings is more chronicle than investigation, detailing more the world that Harris lived in and what inspired him, and less about his life and means. If nothing else though, this straightforward documentary is a potent piece of Canadiana, priding itself on telling the story of a famed Canadian not known for sports or music.
The filmmakers do well to make content that is more literary and static into something lively, mainly by making sure Harris’ beautiful art is front and center. They let the viewer appropriately soak it in, for those who missed the curated affair the the AGO. What’s more, they recreate some of his journeys, where he found beautiful Canadian mountain landscapes to paint in solitude and serenity. A voiceover is used to recite some of the artist’s introspective writings as well.
Those scenes stand out the the most in a film that otherwise doesn’t do particularly much digging. Little is made of his personal life, and perhaps it’s not newsworthy, but nor is there any social commentary. Harris, after all, was born into riches with his financial future well secure.
While it likely won’t appeal or invite those who have little to no interest in art, lovers and historians will embrace this film and the justified fan service paid to a famed Canadian.