TheOrator.Press Film Review Special: Mr Turner. Directed By Mike Leigh. And Starring Timothy Spall. Taking A Turner For The Better ~ March 2022

The Official Mr Turner Trailer (2014) The Royal Academy’s Annual Exhibition

Director Mike LeighLead Actor Timothy SpallPlaywright Winsome Pinnock

TheRoyalAcademyofArt.OrgThe Museum of Fine Art Bostonwww.mfa.orgwww.TheTate.Org

The Tate’s Commitment To Diversity.TheTateBlackIdentitiesAndArtTheTHIIIRD Magazine

Watching This Lover of Light Was A Ray of Sunshine

In September 2021 We TheOrator.Press Went To See The Brilliant Play ‘Rockets And Blue Lights’ By Winsome Pinnock At The National Theatre. It Was So Powerful We Developed A Mild Obsession With J.M.W Turner The Artist Who Created The Painting From Which The Play Gets Its Name (Now Exhibited At Tate Britain). It Is The Sister Painting To Another of His 1840s Paintings Called ‘The Slave Ship’ (Now Exhibited At The Museum of Fine Art, Boston). Thus When A Documentary Came On About The Artist Earlier This Month We Were There All Eyes, Ears And Eager To Watch It.

To Say The Documentary Was Disappointing Is A Very Polite Understatement. Suffice To Say It Left Us Feeling Frustrated And In Need of A Turner Fix To Remedy It. So We Impromplty Reminded In Our Quest That Some Years Ago (Before We Developed An Artistic Addiction) And Before TheOrator.Press Was Even Launched (2020) That The Renowned Film Maker Mike Leigh Had A Film About The Artist, Starring Timothy Spall. So Watching The Movie Became The Solution. And Amen! It Did The Job.

We Can See Why It Won So Many Awards. Whilst Turner Himself Was Something of A Miserable Loner Watching The Movie And Learning More About Him, His Works And Motivation Was Something of A Ray of Sunshine. It Provided Just The Cultural Uplift That The Documentary Never Did.

Mike Leigh, The Famed, Edgy And Unorthodox British Film Director, Likes To Make Films About Individuals With Character, Contradictions And Controversy. Preferably With London Connections. Hence Came Along Mr Turner In 2014, With Timothy Spall In The Lead. He Was Captivatingly In His Portrayal of The Curious Joseph Mallard William Turner, aka J.M.W Turner, One of Britain’s Most Prolific, Generous And Yet Secretive, Artists. And Also The Namesake of The Annual Turner Prize.

Because of His Love For The Characters He Selectively Makes Films About, Leigh Is Big On Factual, Personal And Historical Details In His Film-Making, Which Means His Telling of His Research And Production Processes Can Be Almost As Interesting And Captivating As The Film Itself. If You Are Able To Get Hold of A DVD Version of Mr Turner With Extra Bonus Bits You’ll See What We Mean. In The Case of Mr Turner (2014) You Can Try Any Number of Libraries (Who Do Still Stock Such Media Antiques As DVDs, Which Coincidentally Were Revolutionary In Their Day, Which Was Actually Not That Long Ago).

The Elephant In The Ante Room

Whilst Makin’ The Film, For Research Purposes, Leigh & His Production Team Visited The Royal Academy of Art And Recreated Its Great (Exhibition) Room And The Ante Room (An Artistic Architectural Appetizer Area  Before The Main Entrance To A Much Larger Room of A Grand House or Exhibition) To Look Just As It Was When Originally Located At Somerset House In The 1700s And 1800s.

Catalogues, Invoices & Buildin’ Plans From Historical Records of The Time Were Also Used To Help Make This Happen (Which Is Super Impressive, Especially For History Lovers Like Us At TheOrator.Press Online Magazine –

Plus Leigh Reports That The Tate Gallery In General, The Specialist Clore Gallery (Within The Tate), The National Gallery, Galleries Around The World, And Owners of Paintings In Stately Homes Were Generous & Cooperative In The Makin’ of This Cinematic Biographical Work of Art.

The Feats That Artists Can Achieve On Canvas Either With Watercolours or Oils Can Be Magical And Mysterious And This Is Reflected In A Particular Highlight Scene Where Turner & Fellow Academics Are Depicted On ‘Varnishing Day’ As He Outrages And Fascinates Them With His Idiosyncratic Artistic Ways. Varnishing Day Was A Critical Competitive Day During The Royal Academy of Arts Annual Exhibiton When The Extremely Competitive Artist Exhibitors Were Permitted To Touch Up Their Paintings With Protective Varnish Whilst Their Paintings Were Hanging In Situ’ On The Academy Walls As Part of The Exhibition.

The Production Team  Also Recreated Turner’s Own Home off Harley Street Which Was Unique In Havin’ It’s Own Art Gallery. He Designed It Deliberately As He Loved To Show of His Art Privately To More Modest Company As Well Display It Publicly In The Academy Frequented By The Landed Gentry. These Insightful Scenes, Accompanied With Scenes of Sweepin’ Staircases, Huge Grounds And Great Houses Are Very Impressive, Informative & Educationally Seductive.

As Well As His Own Gallery In His Own Home, He Also Painted At Posh People’s Places Too. Often Country Seats In Country Piles, Includin’ At Petsworth House Which Belonged To A Royal Academy of Arts President And Saw Paintings Not Only Hung Up High But Also Down Hung Low As It Were, At Eye Level. This Was So That Dinner Guests  Could Still View The Paintings As They Ate Around The Large Dining Table.   


Spall’s Portrayal of A Publicly Surely Exterior & Secretly Sensitive Interior Adds Compelling Varnish To His Turn As Turner

Turner Was Born In 1775 And Died In 1851 Aged 76. For A Man of His Times And Indulgences That Was A Very Very Good Innings Indeed.  They Say A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good And He Reportedly Loved Nature, Paintin’ And Bonkin’.  So Maybe His Heart Was Happy And Thus Kept Him In Uniquely Rude Health. The Film Depicts The Beginning Middle And End of His Ten Year Relationship With A Margate Guest House Widow Named Mrs Booth.

Havin’ Painted A Splendid Representation of London’s Lambeth Palace (Official Home of The Archbishop of Canterbury) When He Was Just 14 He Was Accepted Into The Royal Academy of Art At The Uniquely Young Age of 15. And He Had Longevity As He Was The Only One of His Contemporaries Who Lived Long Enough To See The Academy Relocated To Burlington House Piccadilly From Somerset House Waterloo Bridge.

Of Makin’ The Film Mike Leigh (Who Went To Art School In Camberwell In The Early 1960s) Said…

” I Can Only Say How Turner The Man Struck Me Is What We’ve Put Into The Film.  Here Is A Guy Who Is

Honest But Dishonest.

Totally Truthful But Thoroughly Disingenuous.

An Absolute Embracer of The Truth Who Is in Denial On Occasion About His Children [Two Daughters Resultin’ From Random Fornication With A Widow Called Mrs Danby].

A Guy Who Could Be Emotionally Completely Upfront And Yet Completely Difficult And Curmudgeonly.  

And Who Was Interestin’ From The Point of View of His Appearance, And His Demeanour, And His Hygiene And So On And So Forth.”

Spall Agrees  Sayin’

“Genius Often Comes In The Strangest of Packages”.

The Actor Grew Up In Battersea And Used To Cross Vauxhall Bridge To Visit The Tate Where He Eventually Discovered Turner (After Bein’ Attracted To The Dadaists He Says. One Could Describe The Dadaist Artistic Movement As A Negative And off The Wall Artistic Response To The First World War).

Whilst We Would Have Liked To Learn More About The Cultivation of The Genius That Saw Turner Paint Lambeth Palace Aged Just 14 Years Old And Get Accepted Into The Royal Academy At 15, And Why With Such A Gifted Child His Mother Went Mad, Leigh’s Film Prefers To Focus On Turner Life’s From Middle Age Onwards, Which He Believes Was The Most Interestin’ Time of His Lifestory. It Particularly Hones In On His Life After The Death of His Father (To Whom He Was Very Close, Subsequent To The Madness of His Mother).

This Focus Is Refreshing And Welcome As All Too Often People Are Deemed No Longer of Interest Once They Reach Middle-Age. And Bearing In Mind The Less Medically Informed & Less Health Conscious Times of The Historical Era Compared To Today, He Was Effectively In Old Age. But Kudos To Him Because He Was Indeed Still Artistically Interesting, Active And On The Case. And This Is When He Painted Two of His Most Famous Works (The Slave Ship And Rockets & Blue Lights).

Leigh Shares His Opinion That Turner’s Work Becomes Even More Esoteric, Havin’ Already Been Avante Gard, As Professionally He Preferred His Own More Innovative Impressionistic Abstract Fluid Style Rather Than The More Formulaic Rigidity of His Old Art Masters. And Personally This Is When He Began An Enduring Relationship With Mrs Booth (The Margate Guest House Owner) Who’s Establishment He Used To Patronise As A Traveller When She Ran The Place With Her Husband, Prior To Her Becoming A Widow. The Telling That Their Subsequent Secret Personal Relationship Endured For A Decade Shined Further Light On Turner’s Sensitive Side.

Prior To His Eventual Intimacy With Mrs Booth, Turner Tells The Host And Her Husband of A Time When He Worked On The Slave Ships And How What He Saw Was Hauntin’ And Horrific. Where Slaves Were Not Treated As Human Beings But “Worse Than Animals”.

It Was After That Revelation That The Film Shows Turner To Have Painted ‘The Slave Ship’  Reference To Which Is Made At Three Particularly Notable Points In The Film.  It Was In Its Way A Contemporary Artistic Protest Against The Inhumanity of Slavery. In Particular The Horrors of The Notorious Sea Bound Hell of The Middle Passage (The Journey From Africa By Boat To The Land of The Slavers In The Americas).

He Painted Many Famous Seascapes Including ‘The Snow Storm – Steam Boat off A Harbour’s Mouth’ In Relation To Which The Film Depicts That His Research For The Work Saw Him Bravely, Dedicatedly Yet Eccentrically Have Himself Tied To A Ship’s Mast Where He Endured The Most Harsh of Conditions And Cruel Exposure To The Elements of Nature At Sea With Insufficient Shelter.  He Only Just Comes Back From The Brink of Death, To Where He Was Taken By Subsequent Bronchitis.

His Paintings And Creations (Which Reflect His Love For Nature And The Elements) Were Innumerable And Reached Way In To The Thousands And Beyond, Including International Ones.  And Having Been Entered Into The Royal Academy of Art During His Teenage Year Age Just 15, Six Years Later His Painting ‘Fishermen At Sea’ (1796) Was To Be The First of His Oil Paintings Hung At The Royal Academy (Age Just 21). It Reflected Incredible Maturity. In 1807 (Aged 32) He Painted One of His Other Most Famous Seascapes ‘Sun Rising Through Vapour (Fishermen Catching And Selling Fish)’ Which In His Will He Requested Be Hung At The National Gallery (Where Indeed It Is). He Was A Senior Seasoned Professional When Thirty Three Years Later, At 65 He Painted What We Consider To Be The Two Sister Paintings ‘The Slave Ship’ And ‘Rockets And Blue Lights’ In 1840.

He Died Just Over One Decade And One Year Later, Aged 76.

Notwithstanding Turner’s Life Long Love of Margate The Landscape Had Naturally Changed Significantly By The Time Mike Leigh Came To Make The Film. In The Behind The Scenes Footage Leigh Reveals That A Certain Structural Development Unexpectedly Demanded That The Production And Location Team Find A Way To Work Around A Potential Geographical Filming Disaster In Order To Make The Necessary Scenic Magic Happen. It’s Very Interesting How He Explains It. SufficeTo Say With Cinematic Problem-Solving Skills They Made It.

Because of Leigh’s Particular Love of Authenticity & Attention To Detail Those Playing Close Attention Can Learn A Lot About Society At The Time, Including The Casual Approach of The Plantocracy of High Society To Slavery (Who As So Called ‘Polite Society’ Engaged In It But Yet Preferred To Talk Very Little About It, Even In The Privacy of Their Stately Homes). And How The Lovely Life of The Lavish Classes Back In Blighty Went On Whilst Enslaved Africans In The Colonies Were Subjected To Hell On Earth. It Is Disturbing And Distasteful And Does Little To Help Others Look Upon Such Class of People Favourably. 

It Comparison One Cannot Help But Admire Turner’s Inclinations & Idiocyncracies Which Saw Him Brave & Bold Enough To Attentively Paint The Graphic Horrors of The Slave Ship From Which Enchained Africans Were Thrown Overboard And Into The Freezing Shark Invested Waters To Be Deliberately Drowned In Chains or Literally Eaten Alive! Especially When One Considers The Journey From Lambeth Palace From Which He Set Out At Just 14 And The Professional And Personal Development From Exceptional Boy Prodigy To Eccentric Maverick Man Who Became One of The Boldest Artists In History.

This Film Has Double Delivery. Entertainment And Education. Edu-taiment. And There Is A Third Level of Appreciation As It Has Cultural Competence, As In This Art World Context It Begins To Acknowledge The Horrors of Slavery And High Society’s Association To It; Which A Number of Slavery Narratives Either Do Not Do At All or Do Not Do In Enough Honest Detail. A Similar Story Is Told In Stephen Speilberg’s Amistad (1997).

Whilst Turner Was By No Means An Oil Painting Himself, Spall Is Captivating. Such Was His Dedication He Took Art Lessons For Several Weeks In Order To Get The Feel of Turner And His Behavioural Patterns Whilst Painting And Moving About His Studio And Creations. The Film Won A Number of Film Industry Awards, Including Best Actor At The Cannes Film Festival And Critical Acclaim. It’s Worth The Watch Just To See Him Work. Art For Art Sake.

The DVD (With Special Features) As Was The Format At The Time Is Available In Some Good Local Libraries. Hire It. Buy It. Or As It Was Made In Association With Film Four Possibly Download It (

Further Still, Why Not Visit Tate Gallery And The Royal Academy of Arts And Learn More About Turner And His Work? You Can See Some Other Great Paintings Too. By Artists, As Well As Paintings, of Different Colours And Genres. Art Can Be So Relaxing, Uplifting, And Inspiring Once You Find What You Like. The Tate’s Commitment To Diversity.TheTateBlackIdentitiesAndArt

Upon His Death Turner Bequeathed Virtually The Entirety of His Works To The Nation. And Since March 1st (St David’s Day) 2002 The Turner Bequest As It Is Called, Is Now Available To All Online Courtesy of The Insight Project And The Tate’s Modernisation Through The Digital Capture of Art. It Uses Digital Technology Provided By Its Sponsor ‘BT Open World’ To Make It Available To Everybody Who’s Interested.

Take A Turner For The Better And Be Sure To Watch The Movie At Some Stage In Your Own Lifestory. It Is A Genuine Work of Cinematic Art. And You Might Just Learning Something Interesting.

TheOrator.Press. A Positive Magazine. For Positive People. By Positive People.

Mission & Vision Statement

New Generation

TheOrator.Press Mission & Vision Statement

TheOrator.Press Is A New, Independent, Positive, Interview, News Review, & Education Magazine.

It’s Demographic Is A Unisex, Integrated, Open-Minded Readership of All & Any Age, Colour or Creed.

It Aims To Give A Much Needed New Kind of Press Voice To Positive, Productive & Progressive People Who Have Been Ignored or Misrepresented For Way Too Long.

It Aims To Give Positive, Truthful, & Respectful Press Coverage To Good, Productive, & Progressive Actions, Ignored or Misrepresented For Way Too Long.

It Aims To Present An Alternative To Negative Language, Narratives & Attitudes Systematically Perpetuated For Way Too Long.

It Does Not Tolerate Racism Nor Bullying Nor Any Other Negative or Abusive Behaviour From Any Person, Nor Any Organisation, To Anyone, At Anytime.

The Professional Production Team Strives To Maintain High Standards At All Times And Include Experienced Writers, Reporters, Content Creators, Photographers & Lawyers; An Editor, News Editor, Features Editor, Picture Editor, Style Editor; Marketing Department, PR & Communications Department & IT Department.

In Addition To The Mission of Buildin’ The Magazine Itself, We Have A Vision Too.

In Addition To The Mission of Buildin’ The Magazine Itself, Our Vision Is The Establishment of An Educational Element With Both Academic & Media Facilities For Generations To Come.

Donations Sponsorship & Support

As A New, Independent, Positive, Interview, News Review, & Education Magazine TheOrator.Press Welcomes Support, Sponsorship & Donations.

All Such Contributions Are Always Welcome, Appreciated & Acknowledged On Our Dedicated Sponsorship Page. Anonymity Can Also Be Maintained If Preferred. We Maintain Respect For All Different Confidentiality & Privacy Needs In All Circumstances.

People Caring To Contribute Can Do So Using The Contact Details Outlined Below.

Thank You For All Your Contributions & Support. They Help Make & Maintain Much Needed Change For Good.

TheOrator.PressChange4 Good

Ref: Paypal – TheOrator.Press

Contact Us

Telephone: 07867 608 007

Respect For All Different Confidentiality & Privacy Needs In All Circumstances

By Phone
By Email


By Insta


By Post

TheOrator.Press Magazine,

C/o Lumorus PLC
Better Space Building
127 Farringdon Road