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film review

Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil is a quietly intriguing documentary about the proposed exhibition by a small Dutch museum filled with underdog moments as its art historians set out to verify the authenticity of dubious works and coax crucial loans out of Madrid’s mighty Prado.

When the hometown of the late-medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch planned an exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of his death in 1516, it faced an uphill battle: The town of Den Bosch owns no work by its namesake. This quietly intriguing documentary about the proposed exhibition by a small Dutch museum is filled with underdog moments as its art historians set out to verify the authenticity of dubious works and coax crucial loans out of Madrid's mighty Prado. Will they have to tell Ghent their Bosch is just school-of? Will their colleagues in Rotterdam upstage them with a competing show? Will the Spanish curator, who gleefully points out that she has the Boschs and they don't, cough up? Unfortunately, the actual confrontations this project must have caused happen off camera, but the story of a determined quest is always enlivened by insights into the clawing animals, bizarre monsters and sinful humans that populate Bosch's fantastical visions.