Sapphire of St. Louis
2015 (2017 US release)
Distributed by Grasshopper Films, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Directed by Jose Luis Guern
DVD, color, 58 min., French with English subtitles
Art, History, Slavery
Reviewed by James Gordon, University at Buffalo Libraries
Date Entered: 8/28/2017
An 18th century painting called Saphir in the Saint-Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle, France is the inspiration for this documentary. The detailed backstory behind the painting’s depiction of the ship at sea is followed by an illustrated description of a voyage gone wrong. Unexpectedly calm November weather strands Saphir in the ocean, leaving it adrift with 30 crew and 271 slaves at the mercy of ocean currents and no way to steer.
The documentary is a wonderfully narrated illustration of the painting and its story. Art and art history classes will likely find this a good movie to watch.