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26 November 2005 (Portugal)  »

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Paul Gauguin  »

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PAUL GAUGUIN {Short} (Alain Resnais, 1950) ***
8 March 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

When a week ago I watched the same director's documentary short about another famous Impressionist painter as part of my Oscar season, I never thought I would be paying him tribute so soon after on account of his passing! This one-reeler – generally referred to solely as GAUGUIN – is essentially a companion piece to VAN GOGH (1948) but, curiously enough, no mention is made here of the two giants' friendship! Indeed, the film follows pretty much the same style – telling the man's life-story by way of his works, with narration in this case supplied by Jean Servais. Still, its shorter duration should not suggest that Gauguin had it much better than Van Gogh: true, he may not have been a mental case prone to self-mutilation, but he was no less plagued by self-doubt, restless (apparently, he died pining for his former surroundings midway through capturing its landscape!), lonely (he literally forsook familial responsibilities in the single-minded pursuit of his vocation!) and misunderstood!! For the record, Gauguin's exploits (which took him from France to Tahiti!) inspired renowned American author W. Somerset Maugham for the subject of his "The Moon And Sixpence" – superbly filmed by Albert Lewin in 1942, with George Sanders giving one of his finest performances. I do not wish, at this stage, to compare Gauguin's artistry with that of Van Gogh's: the former's canvasses display undeniable texture, especially where faces and nudes (several South Sea women were rendered for posterity in their natural state!) are concerned, but then seem oddly slapdash when it comes to depicting religious iconography!!


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