It is with great expectations that I watched Fabergé, A Life Of Its Own, directed and produced by Patrick Mark. My love for documentaries is gradually taking over my life and on this particular occasion, I felt like this one was almost made for me. Not that I am one of the lucky (and insanely rich) owners of a Fabergé egg, but as a hand engraver who works on high end jewellery and fine watches, this was bound to be of some interest to me. And I am glad to report that, just like someone lucky enough to be able to handle one of Fabergé’s incredible creations, I was left absolutely enchanted by the whole experience.
For the making of the documentary, Patrick Mark surrounded himself with incredibly dedicated people, one of them being Alice Ilich, who is recognised internationally as one of the world’s leading authorities on Fabergé and Russian art, as well as the great grand daughter of Fabergé, Tatiana. The film was shot in many different locations and unprecedented access to private collections was also given. We get a real sense that the team is on a mission to capture Fabergé’s essence, and it is handsomely paid off when a lost treasure suddenly reemerges.
From the very beginning, the extremely skillful direction becomes apparent as we are gently transported into a poetic world. The first scene of the film is beautifully atmospheric and was shot in a dilapidated dacha in St Petersburg, which was previously home to the Fabergé family. Quiet and pensive piano music plays softly in the background, whilst Samuel West, of Howard’s End fame, tells the story of one of the most incredible jewellers of all times. It must be noted that Mr West’s voice, with his smooth, rich and rather addictive tones, is a great ambassador for this documentary.
Wonderful shots of St Petersburg punctuate this film and one can’t help but be struck by the magnificence of its colourful architecture bathed by majestic sunsets which echoes of Faberge’s enamels. We can truly understand how the city had an undeniable aesthetic influence on Fabergé’s work.
But of course, the real stars of the documentary are the eggs. So that we can fully take in their intricate craftsmanship, we get up close and personal with breath taking close ups of Fabergé’s masterpieces, as they slowly rotate under the glare of the cameras. The piece de résistance is the famous Winter Egg. When it appears at the end of the documentary, it truly feels like we are entering Wonderland. The last scene has been carefully choreographed as this magnificent egg unveils its contents, which in Fabergé’s world is known as “surprise”.
This documentary is a real labour of love and it is truly heartening to see that it has received a myriad of awards. It’s an epic journey into luxury miniaturism and I highly recommend that you join it.
Fabergé, A Life Of Its Own is out now as a DVD/Blu-ray and is available in the iTunes store.
Dir: Patrick Mark
Runtime: 82 minutes