The Lost Leonardo is quite a surprising gem. A documentary, yes, but a mystery that keeps you engaged and unsure until the very end. This is more than an art documentary, it’s a study of value and, more specifically, of the very real and monetary value that belief has the power to impart on anything.
This narrative revolves around the mystery that surrounds the Salvator Mundi, the first Leonardo da Vinci painting to be discovered in over a century. How it was found, how it perplexed, amazed, & frustrated the art community worldwide, and how it has now seemingly gone missing.
I’m actually not really into paintings and such but when looking into this doc I found myself drawn in by the trailer. An interesting mystery with good cinematography and engaging interviews. Naturally I turn to my wife, who absolutely loves and studied art history, and I tell her about this film I’m about to watch in case she wants to join and she says “That sounds interesting…” before walking away and out of the room…
As I sat watching this film alone I couldn’t help but think about the power of the masses and found it incredibly relevant to so many of the conversations we’re all having. I thought about cryptocurrency and NFT’s having value because a lot of people say they do. So many, myself included, have such difficulty grasping the idea of digital currency buying digital art that, in a way, doesn’t really exist for a ton of money simply because people say there is value I owning that image composed of ones and zeros.
That is, for me, what is at the core of this film. Someone found a painting that may or may not be a da Vinci, there’s much evidence for both arguments, and they took it to a person with a respected opinion. That person declared it is “undoubtedly” a Leonardo da Vinci and suddenly the value increases. One person convinced many and the belief of the many made this the highest bid painting at auction. This is a documentary about belief and it isn’t lost on me that the person depicted in the painting is of the one Jesus of Nazareth “Salvator Mundi” (savior of the world).
Belief aside, the film is very well edited and shot, maintaining your attention throughout. Another pro is that the filmmaker’s bias seems to take a vacation, a feat in the world of documentaries. As difficult as it may be it’s so important that documentarians avoid leaning one way or the other because they should be used less as a way of forcing opinions on people and more for presenting truth as such and allowing the viewer to come to their own conclusion. As humans we often fall short of this. In all fairness, some topics are definitely more difficult to do so with than others. Nonetheless, in The Lost Leonardo they manage this quite well.
I was genuinely pleased with this film and hope more people will find their way to it as I know so many hope that the Salvator Mundi finds its way back into the public eye.