This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. By 1656, he ... See full summary »
This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. By 1656, he is bankrupt but consoles himself with the company of pretty maid Hendrickje, whom he's unable to marry. Their relationship brings ostracism but also some measure of happiness. The final scenes find him in his last year, 1669, physically enfeebled but his spirit undimmed. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Rembrandt reveals the newly completed painting, 'The Night Watch', we see not the full, original version that he in fact painted, but the drastically butchered version that was made over 40 years after his death, when the painting was moved from its original exhibition space in the Kloveniersdoelen to a less capacious display space in the Amsterdam Town Hall in 1715. See more »
Rembrandt van Rijn:
And of a sudden he knew that when one woman gives herself to you, you possess all women. Women of every age and race and kind, and more than that, the moon, the stars, all miracles and legends are yours. Brown-skinned girls who inflame your senses with their play, cool yellow-haired women who entice and escape you, gentle ones who serve you, slender ones who torment you, the mothers who bore and suckled you; all women whom God created out of the teeming fullness of the earth, are yours in the ...
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Why *can't* they make films like this anymore? Today, a film has to be the best part of three hours long and packed with special effects. In this film we see the story of a man's life told in half that time, made at a studio outside London. (Having said that, it was a box-office failure, presumably the audiences who shunned this flocked to see Clark Gable in 'San Francisco'.)
Charles Laughton's performance is truly great, portraying Rembrandt's vision and artistic integrity (which appears as perverse stubbornness to his fellow citizens), and his deep humanity. His speeches at the inn which mirror each other at the beginning and end of the film, on the glory of perfect love and the vanity of human life, are so beautifully delivered I almost held my breath so as not to miss a word.
More than that, the film succeeds in recreating Rembrandt's world. We see the business-like merchants, self-important local politicians and hard-living peasants who made up Dutch society in the 1600's. One of the most moving passages of the film shows Rembrandt trying to return to his home. He is physically unsuited to his father's work and derided by the villagers. He returns to Amsterdam realising he can't fit in with the merchant-class or the peasant-class where he was raised - he is a man alone.
The supporting cast is noteworthy, including Elsa Lanchester (Mrs Laughton, of course) as Rembrandt's last love, Gertrude Lawrence (although I'm still not sure why audiences seemed to fall in love with her, maybe her histrionics were more suited to theatre) and a large crop of Liveseys (Roger, Jack, Sam - I'm sure there were others).
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