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If you're in the mood for for mirth and gaiety, you might want to
postpone viewing this very important film for another day. Try "Mary
Poppins" instead, but definitely come back to this because it must be
seen in order to be fully appreciated.
Meticulously directed by Vincente Minelli and very well written by Norman Corwin, based on the book by Irving Stone, this movie is about a critical period in the tragic and tortured life of Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. I found it highly ironic that this man enjoyed such little beauty during his life, yet, at the same time, he was able to create such serene and colorful beauty on the canvas. The fact that he could appreciate beauty to this degree made his life all the more sad to me. His impoverished condition and extreme alienation from the society around him also serve as stunning contrasts from the stratospheric prices of his paintings today and the widespread posthumous love and recognition that his works have so justifiably achieved.
In spite of the sadness and the tragedy of Van Gogh's life, I was very inspired by his tough perseverance and determination in developing his painting ability and style. Rather than shying away from valid criticism, he sought it from qualified individuals, directly faced it, and effectively responded to it. Most aspiring artists and writers cannot rely upon God-given talent alone. They still must work very hard in order to produce the very best of their ability. By his example, Van Gogh proved this to us.
By pure coincidence, I happened to watch this movie on Kirk Douglas's 100th birthday, December 9, 2016. While other IMDb reviewers found that he overacted the part, I strongly disagree with them. Not only did he physically resemble the true Van Gogh, but he very credibly brought to life the intense, mentally tormented inner being of the painter as well. I'm very happy that Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his 22 minute role but also regret that Douglas went home empty handed that night and on every other Oscar night until he finally received much deserved honorary recognition by the Academy in 1996 at the age of 80. Happy Birthday, Mr. Douglas. Well done, sir!
Director Vincente Minnelli has made an art film. It is evident from the
way he has used his colour palette and light when shooting the film.
Cold greys with the early mining village scenes, reds for glimpses of
Paris turning to greens in the countryside of Provence and for the
fields of Arles we see yellows.
In turn scenes and characters would reflect his famous works of arts even the sets such as his room in Arles. We have images of Van Gogh painting the night sky with candles on his hat so he can see better in the dark.
Kirk Douglas immerses himself as Van Gogh becoming a preacher in a small mining town and decides he needs to really live amongst the dirt than be a pious preacher. He is miserable but passionate, after his widowed cousin turns down his advances, he becomes more miserable but also turns towards art. Initially he sketches and with the aid of his cousin, he turns to painting and colours.
Over time there is desperation, his brother Theo provides him with money but cannot sell his works. His paintings go against fashion of the times, it is mocked. Only Paul Gaugin (Anthony Quinn) understands but when Gaugin goes on to stay with him they have an artistically wild relationship where they also irritate each other.
In the end Van Gogh succumbs to mental illness. Douglas gives generally a subtle performance but underneath there is passion, for life, for art, for love but also hurt, the hurt he felt from failure in love, his life and his art which did not sell.
Van Gogh would fall out with people, whether they were friends, family or lovers. Even Gaugin could not stand the whining from Van Gogh or the pigsty of the house he was staying in. Quinn gives a brash, animalistic performance, his short cameo won him a best supporting actor Oscar and he also bagged some nice lines.
Lust for Life is an effective melodrama, maybe it does not always adhere to the truth but presents Van Gogh as lonely, vulnerable, haunted figure while Minnelli adds an artist's eye and a visual style which is helped by shooting in locations that Van Gogh lived in rather than a Hollywood backlot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of my top 10 favorite films from the mid-20th century era. Star
Kirk Douglas had previously ("Young Man with a Horn") played a
character obsessed with playing improvised jazz on the trumpet, based
on the self- destructive life of the jazz enthusiast Bix Beiderbecke.
Many details of the life of Bix or in the novel that the film was based
upon were fictionalized. Now, Douglas played another doomed tortured
artist in Vincent Van Gogh. Unlike Bix, Vincent is well recognized by
the general public. Unlike the film relating to Bix, this film is about
as true to the historical details as can be expected for a film,
especially since it is based upon an Irving Stone novel of the same
title published in 1934.
Douglas makes a very convincing Vincent, both in his physical appearance and in his acting. Tony Quinn was also an excellent choice for Vincent's sometimes roommate: Paul Gauguin. Besides acting, Quinn had a longstanding interest in making paintings and sculpture. James Donald is good as Vincent's brother Theo, who made Vincent's career as an artist possible with his monthly allowance to the destitute Vincent. Not included in the film is mention of Theo's death, which occurred a mere 6 months after Vincent's death, due to cerebral syphilis.
We can usefully divided the film into 5 segments. The first covers his problems trying to become an ordained minister or a missionary, including his time spent as a missionary in a very poor coal town, where he had trouble relating to the people until he took to spending some time digging coal and digging through a huge pile of rejected rock that included some coal, like the women did while their husbands were down below. Covered with coal dust at times, and living in a primitive shack, the church elders were not pleased when they came to check on him. He called them hypocrites and claimed he was more Christ-like than they were. At home, he said that he didn't believe in the God of the clergymen; he believed in a God of love. That was the end of his shaky ministerial career.
The second segment of the film covers the period when he has taken up art work, but only produces black and white drawings. During this period, his cousin Kay rejects his marriage proposal, which sends him into a psychological tailspin for a period. He takes up with a laundress/prostitute for a period, but she eventually leaves.
The third segment covers his discovery and development of color painting, before inviting Paul Gauguin to come live and work with him.
The 4th segment covers his association with Gauguin. Mostly, they quarrel about painting styles and keeping the place reasonably neat. Vincent runs after Gauguin with a razor, as Gauguin is leaving. Vincent then cuts his ear off with a knife and is laid up for a while.
The final segment is his post-Gauguin life. This includes his stay at the St. Remy asylum, then with Dr. Gachet. He has periodic seizures. At St. Remy, initially, he's not allowed to paint. Later, he is allowed to paint in moderation, as painting seems to be necessary to promote his sanity. But, this does not cure his loneliness. He can't seem to relate to non-artists, and his work is a solitary one.
Tony Quinn received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his relatively brief screen time. I think Douglas was more deserving of the Best Actor Oscar.
In contrast to Vincent, Gauguin had achieved financial success in his 20s, from stock brokering and art dealing. Then, the stock market crashed and the market for artwork mostly dried up. Thus, he abandoned his family, and took up producing artwork, along with other odd jobs,often just barely surviving Today, his paintings, sell for $ millions, like Vincent's. Gauguin would eventually move to Tahiti and other islands administered by France, thus distancing himself from western society. Many of his most famous paintings were done on these islands. The novel "The Way to Paradise" is based on this period in Gauguin's life and that of his grandmother, who also had big issues with conventional society.
The film lost $2,000,000.upon initial release. Perhaps its 2 hour length was too long for many, and its cost too great?
Some of Vincent's best known paintings are shown periodically in the second half.
Director Vincent Minnelli had previously directed Douglas in the acclaimed "The Bad and the Beautiful", about Hollywood politics. Parts of the present film were filmed in several locations that Vincent lived in.
Vincent Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas) fails as a preacher activist in a coal
mining town. He returns home. He struggles against his father and his
love Kay rejects him. He takes care of the homely Christine and her
baby but she leaves him due to his obsessive painting. All the while,
he diligently works on his art supported by his brother Theo van Gogh
(James Donald). He befriends fellow artist Paul Gauguin (Anthony Quinn)
and the two live together to paint. However the partnership doesn't
last and he falls into a depression.
Kirk Douglas is fine but the first half lacks drama. It's a simple recitation of his life with little tension. It tries to fill the blandness with Kirk's narration. The paintings are interesting and beautifully colorful. The movie gets better in the second half with the arrival of Anthony Quinn. The two artists' companionship has some compelling tension. The movie improves a bit at that point.
Kirk Douglas becomes Vincent Gogh and is terrific in this film. Just
watch it for the portrayal.
Vincent Gogh lived a very complicated film, as shown in the film perhaps. But to adapt to the complications and portray them without any compromise would have been the most challenging part. Kirk Douglas, the fine actor he is has done this effortlessly. Kudos to the great man for his acting itself.
Expectedly, the art direction is wonderful, as this is a film about painter, his paintings in itself would make the shots beautiful. The cinematography was adequate if not great. The lines were good and the editing was fine. But mind you, this is a biopic so it would take some liberties in terms of length in showing few important aspects of the life of Vincent Gogh.
Vincent Minnelli was one of the most celebrated directors of his time and he did this film with a great grand vision as his earlier films. But, he somewhere lost his vision in the making. He made a clichéd biopic that is definitely good but must not great. I suppose that the script did little justice to the emotions which Kirk Douglas portrayed and also what Vincent Gogh could have gone through emotionally.
This is good for a one time watch just for acting. A 3/5 for a good film and of these, 2 stars only to Kirk Douglas and the remaining star for the film overall. It's a good film but tests our patience at times.
It is the Quiet and the Non-Verbal that Impress the Most in this Biopic
of Van Gogh, because Kirk Douglas' Overripe, Very Loud Performance and
an Intrusive Musical Soundtrack do Nothing to Enhance the Experience.
What does are Scenes that Show the Artist, in one of the Many Moments of Intense Frustration, looks up and upon an Oil Lamp, nothing is Said, and in the Next Shot there is the Painting of the Lamp, again Nothing is Said. Plain and Profound it is a Beautiful Transition from Observation to Mind to Art.
What also makes the Film Beautiful is the Original Artwork Constantly Filling the Frame and the Number of Outdoor Scenes of the Artist Reveling in His Beloved Sunlit, Natural World. Another Positive and Enlightening Aspect is the Portrayal of Van Gogh's Lust for the Human Condition and how he Transposes these Folks at Work in Back Breaking, Soul Depleting Toil to the Canvas.
There are Many Good Things to Enjoy in this Movie but the Dialog, Sound, and Overacting is not Among Them. But some of that is Muted by the Color Schemes, the Settings (both indoor and out), and the Insight of the Struggle to Find Beauty, Apply that to Art that Touches People, while at the Same Time Reflecting on the Devastating Hypocrisy and Ugliness that, Especially in Van Gogh's Life, was more than He could Bare.
1st watched 5/11/2009 - 6 out of 10 (Dir-Vincente Minnelli): Good movie about the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh portrayed well by Kirk Douglas as his character wanders in and out of madness throughout the movie. His madness is really portrayed more like a man who doesn't know how to handle situations when he loves someone and they don't return back to him the same measure of love that he gives. His painting life is portrayed as an emotional outlet that keeps him sane as long as he can do it the way he wants to and in the right setting. He's a man that is portrayed as not being very likable and unsettled in his nature, which is typical of many artists. The movie starts with him following after his father's footsteps and trying to make it as a missionary but this doesn't work out because he cares too much for the people and doesn't represent the church well in their eyes. After this, he travels from place to place living off his brother's money as he sponsors him hoping one of his paintings will sell. Very few do, and later in life he admits himself into a mental institution before trying to kill himself. Despite the negativity of the character and his circumstances, the movie portrays the man and his paintings beautifully. His quest to control himself is not conquered but what we get is a bunch of beautiful artistry and this artistry is displayed in plenty as many museums donated various pieces to be portrayed in the movie. Vincente Minnelli gives us a unique portrayal for it's time and does pretty good job of displaying the artist's passion.
I like this film because of rich life for Van Gokh upon his varietal
accidents as a human and painter to create for a people a new thing and
way to feel them the likely taste of life in-spite of his passions as
an evidence for his practically done for the real meaning of humanity
to erase the passions of people and him by painting and imitating
nature to reach for a respectable result as a good painter.
Upon his life he did not take any honor during he was living and he gained from Paul Gugan a great experience to innovate a new thing to be alive in spite of death that your work can make for you an eternal name if you are dead but you are still alive not by body by your harmony of your innovation as a (C.V) of your personality.
Kerk Douglas succeeded in his role as Van Gokh and he nominated to academy award Oscar prize as a best acting role and he looked like the real Van Gokh by his good acting and his brilliant way to retry the soul of him that he knew it from the lines of books as a cleverness of him as a great mega star>
Anthony Quinn succeeded in the role of Paul Gugan by his great experience as a painter in his real life and he won an Oscar prize as a best supporting role in the second time after his first won in 1952 in (Viva Zapata) in the role of Fransisco Zapata as a best supporting role also.
(Lust for life) is a remarkable film for Vinecennte Minelli as an evidence of his great ability upon his varietal movies in their kinds.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
MILD SPOILERS ONLY FOR THOSE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE LIFE OF VINCENT
Kirk Douglas is one of my favorite actors - especially his early films of the 40's and 50's when he was young and searching for his stride. He always seems to put everything he can into the character he is playing. This is certainly true about his role as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life. The problem with this is that most of what we know about Vincent is through the letters he wrote to his brother Theo. And, those letters were written by a many deeply troubled and frequently not firmly connected to the real world. Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for supporting actor in this film. Maybe I needed to see the movie in the context of time when it was release in 1956 but I do not see his performance to be worthy of an Academy Award. He was not bad, he simply was Anthony Quinn aka Viva Zapata. Quinn has given us many excellent performances in many films but this is not one of them.
This movie, as captivating as it is faced these two problems. Insufficient objective historical record on the life of Van Gogh, and too much story to tell in a film. What we get is a sweeping brush that touches just small parts of each phase of the artists life. The movie tries hard, and for a viewer that knows the story about Van Gogh, the movie can be enjoyable. But I believe a person who knows only that Van Gogh was an artist and painted Starry Night or Sunflowers will have difficulty understanding the strange life deep struggles of Vincent Van Gogh.
The movie is stimulating visually. It gives good insight into a few of the major pieces of work the artist painted although much license has been taken in telling those stories. The music score perhaps was good in 1956 but today, I found it violently obtrusive and most inappropriate for the subject and visuals most of the time. It simply does not fit.
Too much time is spent on the relationship between Vincent and Paul Gauguin. In the larger view of Vincent's life, Gauguin's visit and attempt to live with Vincent in Arles, while very significant, was very short and only a small piece of Van Gogh's life. Many of the "arguments" the screenwriter give to them seem to be picked out of thin air.
Several facts were distorted that did not need to be - the most important being the facts surrounding Vincent's suicide and the last hours of his life. As stated previously, too much story for a movie. Events that had profound influence on the artist's psychic and the development into a most profound and beloved artist.
Like many historical dramas of artists this movie fails to actually paint a picture that allows the view to truly know the artist. What is left is a brief tracing of the most well known parts of the story.
Nevertheless, the movie is a good one but view some of the other movies or programs available on Vincent Van Gogh.
Very engrossing a really made with millions of sweat ,toil and hard work ,I watched lived and gone into trance beautifully crafted,I take hats off for great director crew and cameraman ,I want keep this in my film library.How they created the scenes on actual grounds where the two greatest artiste lived ,the paintings and then taking viewers to actual scenes is something unusual,the chat with lady who saw this painter in her childhood who as i know died recently,something unbelievable,Great work.Hopefully all art lovers will keep this in their film library ,a commendable work ,a Oscar to be given every year to it.
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