Throughout the history of mankind, there have been many great men. There have been those who have changed the world and those who have improved the quality of life for everyone around them. Leonardo da Vinci was one such individual and his work as an artist and his revolutionary ideas and inventions have left a significant mark on the world. His life and creations have been examined before but the new documentary Inside the Mind of Leonardo takes it one step further, not only by having talented actor Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) portray DaVinci but the film is available in 3D. With such an innovative format in which to view the film, audiences are certainly in for a different take on the man’s life, though not a stellar take.
Inside the Mind of Leonardo isn’t a biographical film so much as it is a general declaration that da Vinci was a genius known the world over for his innovation. The film gives a loose biographical profile, while showcasing drawings and sketchings of the artist’s, animated and made more vivid through the use of 3D technology. This of course is unnecessary because da Vinci’s work is so strong and powerful on its own that it need not require cheap gimmicks to draw out its beauty. Director Julian Jones (How William Shatner Changed the World, The Great Sperm Race) seems to be on autopilot here because he missed a huge opportunity to examine da Vinci’s life in a thoughtful and illuminating manner. He simply uses images like that of the famous “flying machine” in vivid detail instead of shining a light on the man’s life.
Peter Capaldi also seems to be reaching a bit with his overly dramatic portrayal of da Vinci. His performance consists of monologues which contain dialogue from da Vinci’s journals, descriptions of water flowing and cannons firing, etc. He plays the man as a pretentious artiste instead of being honest and true to the Italian genius. If this is what the actor and filmmakers had mind for da Vinci, then it is a real shame because this just seems forced and a tad over the top. Capaldi is a capable actor but his depiction of da Vinci is boring and at times, slightly ridiculous.
Inside the Mind of Leonardo isn’t a bad film per say, it just seems like the filmmakers aimed at either a younger audience or an audience that eats superficial crud for breakfast. If one fancies a more fleshed out depiction of Leonardo da Vinci, then one might have to look to the BBC series Da Vinci’s Demons, which shows the artist (played by a more convincing Tom Riley) as a young man and the complicated scenarios he finds himself in. Though fictionalized a bit, it paints a more interesting picture of da Vinci and provides for much better entertainment. Inside the Mind of Leonardo is a documentary through and through but it doesn’t really scratch the surface of the man’s greatness. It is a very limited portrayal and doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of what da Vinci is all about. See it if you want a decent overall summation of da Vinci but skip it if you are looking for a film with a little more substance.