On Representations of da Vinci in Popular Film

Nate Siegel

When one thinks of the Renaissance, one of the first artists that come to mind is Leonardo da Vinci, and for good reasons. The embodiment of the "Renaissance man," da Vinci was an incredibly skilled painter, sculptor, and engineer. He is also renowned for his notebooks, in which he made great strides in his studies of anatomy and the human body. Although he lived long ago, his legacy is remembered through his many representations in modern film. Depictions of da Vinci in film range from dramatic interpretations that chronicle his life, to more elaborate discussions of his inventions and his notebooks. The films Inside the Mind of Leonardo and The Life of Leonardo da Vinci both show different aspects of his life, that are corroborated by Charles Nicholl's text Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind and Giorgio Vasari's writings about da Vinci in his work The Lives of the Artists. However, since viewer's taste in cinema has changed in the 35 years between the films' releases, the films may have difficulty in finding an audience. It is important that these films are historically accurate so that common misconceptions about da Vinci do not become facts; as the narrator of The Life of Leonardo da Vinci said, "some myths die hard."

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