Accept the past with a look to the future. Master of Light is a crucial documentary for that process. Our prior thoughts, actions and feelings do not define us and the great release of understanding that comes through this documentary on George Anthony Morton. It is more than just a profile of a wonderful artist but an exposure of the self and a supreme, demanding look at how life can be. We cannot rewrite it but we can certainly try and shed further light on what is no more. Rosa Ruth Boesten directs with that in mind and while it is easy to throw words like “courageous” or “important” around, it is hard to see how Master of Light is not both of those descriptors.
Art is craft and we see just that in the opening crawl. Just how much goes into the process of creation and the intensity which can be found in the movement of it, not just the finished concept. Redemption through creativity is a cool blessing to find and Master of Light sheds so much thought onto this idea. Experience guides those to do good because they have seen what happens to those in their position. Grief and guilt are completely suspended when the chance to do good presents itself, and healing and growing back into the hurt lives of loved ones is a difficult task to manage. But Master of Light presents such an intimacy in that, a little artistic flavour to a dive into Morton’s world. He details his broken relationships and desires to fix them with an openness which is both striking and moving.
Had it not been both, Master of Light would still have held some great exploration into culture and closure, how the two sometimes divert at a crossroads but later loop back around. Morton is a remarkable individual, not just for how he grew and challenged himself and the world around him but for his work. Beyond the meaning of it, far past the talents at the core of his brush and physicality of art, there is something particular and special in seeing justified success. For those who believe they hit their peak because of their background, those who do not see themselves as successful for where they are from or who they are tied to, Morton is one of many living examples that it is not the case. Individuality is the key to unlocking the confines of upbringing, location or race. Master of Light does well to document this earnestly.
Should it be so difficult to attach success and the clear outcome of it with location and upbringing? Not at all, but it is and it is up to viewers to understand this. Morton has a story which is identifiable, it may even settle into the lives of those sitting at home, nearing midnight and sipping on some rancid mixture to soothe a burning throat. From struggle comes effort and in return, there is a reward. Each to their own struggle but Morton has his profiled with honesty and openness not often found in documentaries of this style. They are too convinced of the success at the end so why bother going over the glum period for all that long? Master of Light takes its approach carefully, and understands the concept at hand and the immense and deserved success which falls, not always, but often, into those who work incredibly hard for it.