A Documentary by Teller Explores the Magic of VermeerBy DAVE ITZKOFF
Mauritshuis, The Hague
On Monday, Sony Pictures Classics said it had picked up the worldwide rights to “Tim’s Vermeer,” a nonfiction film that is directed by Teller and that chronicles Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor who explores how Jan Vermeer created his photo-realistic paintings in the 1600s, a century and a half before photography was invented.
In a decade-long exploration, Mr. Jenison travels to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted, and meets with the British artist David Hockney, who has made his own inquiries into how Vermeer and other master painters created their works. Ultimately, Mr. Jenison’s project “succeeds as he uses 17th-century technology — lenses and mirrors — to develop a technique that might have been used by Vermeer, supporting a theory as extraordinary as what he discovers,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a news release.
Penn Jillette, the more verbal performing partner of Teller, explained the origins of the film in a statement. “My buddy, Tim Jenison, told me over supper he was going to try to paint a Vermeer,” Mr. Jillette said. “Tim is a genius, but I’m a skeptic. I wanted to see him do it. Teller has been the Penn & Teller de facto director since our beginnings, so we made a movie of Tim’s whole monomaniacal trip. Having Sony Pictures Classics as the first words on the screen means it’s more than just a couple of Vegas magicians and an eccentric inventor in his garage. Now it’s a real film that will change the history of art.”
Sony Pictures Classics said it will release “Tim’s Vermeer” next year.