The Spanish director Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive) has directed only three feature films in his 40-year career, but each has been of such distinct and rapturous beauty as to earn him the reputation of a poetic master, on par with his American counterpart Terrence Malick. For his third—and, to date, last—feature, Erice turned his camera upon the acclaimed Spanish realist painter Antonio López García, who plays himself in a movie that is not quite fiction and not entirely documentary, but wholly an attempt to capture the seemingly imperceptible nuances of artistic creation. Taking the form of a journal, the film observes the daily process by which García paints a still-life of a small quince tree in the backyard of his Madrid home, interrupted only by occasional visits from friends and fellow artists, and by the onward march of time and the seasons. (He hopes to complete the work before the fruit falls from the tree in winter.) As the painting materializes, so does our understanding of García’s meticulous method, and the timeless struggle of all artists to capture the ineffable.
“Confronting the depth and richness of even such a seemingly simple subject, Erice asks what are the limits of what we know of the world, and how we know it.” —NYFF30 program note
“Dream of Light should be watched appreciatively and peacefully, in keeping with the tranquillity of the material. In its own minimalist way it becomes a thoughtful, delicate inquiry into the essence of the artistic process, and a tribute to the beauty and mutability of nature. Mr. Erice's film is much bigger than it may appear to be. It is also, like its subject, undeniably one of a kind.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“****. Definitely among the handful of great films about painting… Dream of Light is a masterpiece, a joy.” —Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune