Sense and Sensation is a lavish exploration of the arts in eighteenth-century London. Written and presented by the eminent historian John Brewer, and drawn from his highly-acclaimed book 'The Pleasures of the Imagination', the film considers the world of commerce and celebrity in which Georgian culture was created. A world, Brewer argues, that has many parallels with today.
John Brewer relates the remarkable stories of entrepreneur Jonathan Tyers, who oversaw the high art and low morals of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, and Anna Larpent, a voracious reader, gallery-goer and theatre-lover who kept a detailed journal of her attempts to better herself through culture. Actor-manager David Garrick and literary giant Samuel Johnson are other key characters in Brewer's essay, as is John Gay, the writer of the hugely popular The Beggar's Opera.
Extensively illustrated with prints and paintings of the period, and told in part through the voices of the time, the film also features artful reconstructions in its analysis of the arts and their audiences as English high culture first emerged.