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Renowned illusionists and professional debunkers Penn & Teller document the quest of their friend Tim Jenison, who sets out to prove his theory about the secret methods of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer by endeavouring to create an exact replica of the painter's masterwork The Music Lesson.
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2013
For centuries, the paintings of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer have left viewers awestruck with their almost photorealistic renderings of people and objects. This exactitude of detail has sparked controversial theories from painter David Hockney and architecture professor Philip Steadman, who suggest that Vermeer may have worked with a camera obscura to project an image onto a canvas. In Tim's Vermeer, famed magicians Penn & Teller — who have used their conjuring knowledge and expertise to expose the tricks of other people's trades — follow their friend Tim Jenison, a successful inventor of computer graphics equipment, as he sets out to prove his own theory about Vermeer's methods by endeavouring to paint an exact replica of Vermeer's The Music Lesson using a complex array of lenses, lightboxes and mirrors. Following Tim for over a year as he uses seventeenth-century technology to painstakingly recreate the materials and conditions of the painting's hypothetical creation in his Texas garage, Tim's Vermeer is "riveting ... a mesmerizing film that offers both an intriguing insight into genius and a convincing analysis of the unity of art and science" (Mark Kermode, The Guardian).