Vincent Van Gogh is the archetypical tortured artistic genius. His obsession with painting, combined with mental illness, propels him through an unhappy life full of failures and unrewarding relationships. He fails at being a preacher to coal miners. He fails in his relationships with women. He earns some respect among his fellow painters, especially Paul Gauguin, but he does not get along with them. He only manages to sell one painting in his lifetime. The one constant good in his life is his brother Theo, who is unwavering in his moral and financial support. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
This film is a rarity, a biopic which is more accurate than the book it's based on. Irving Stone's book was a major best-seller which did much to make Vincent Van Gogh one of the ten most famous artists in history but it did have its inaccuracies, particularly when it depicted its protagonist in Paris with other great painters of the time. In the book, Gauguin, Lautrec, Cezanne and Rousseau come off as typical bohemians while Vincent was made much more of a leader than he was. Minelli doesn't give us a detailed look at any of the artists except Gauguin but he is more accurate about who influenced Van Gogh and he does include his best friend, the now-forgotten Emile Bernard, if only as an extra in Tanguy's shop.
When Lust for Life came out, several critics dismissed it as too lurid and melodramatic, but those adjectives are accurate in describing Van Gogh's life. Note that Kirk Douglas does not play his usual cool, fun-loving tough guy and actually uses his whole body in his acting. For once Hollywood outdid itself.
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