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 »
Opening credits prologue: In the seventeenth century Holland was a world power, her ships carried treasure to Amsterdam from all parts of the earth. But her proudest glory was the son of a miller from Leyden, Rembrandt Van Rijn, the greatest painter that has ever lived. He died in obscurity, his belongings no more than a few shillings.
Today no millionaire is worth the money the works of Rembrandt would realise, if ever offered for sale. See more »
Charles Laughton returned to his native Great Britain in 1936 for three years and made a series of films there. The first and best of these was for Alexander Korda about Rembrandt Van Rijn, arguably the greatest of all Dutch painters.
Later biographical pictures, Lust for Life about Van Gogh and Moulin Rouge about Toulouse-Lautrec had good location photography going for them. Alexander Korda did create some nice sets to depict the Netherlands of the 17th century, but it just isn't the same.
Another difference between Rembrandt and the other two later pictures is while Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec died young, Rembrandt lived to be an old man by the standards of his century. The film takes us on a forty year journey of his life from the death of his first wife until just before he dies. Laughton is great at capturing Rembrandt at every stage of his life.
As compared to those other two 19th century artists, Rembrandt's life was also not the tormented one the others had. Rembrandt is not a deformed cripple like Toulouse-Lautrec nor is he dealing with the onset of mental illness like Van Gogh. Tragedy happens in his life, but the tragedy isn't out of his own character.
Like the other two Rembrandt was constantly plagued with money problems. That's actually what takes up most of the film, the compromises he makes with his artistic vision and the need he has to put bread on the table.
Gertrude Lawrence and Elsa Lanchester do fine as the two women in his life. Laughton and Lawrence did not get along during the making of Rembrandt, that may have helped give their scenes some real bite. Three members of the performing Livesey family are in this film and Roger Livesey is a standout as the beggar who Rembrandt uses to paint his portrait of King Saul from the Old Testament.
Rembrandt is a finely crafted piece of film making and Charles Laughton gives one of his best screen performances. I wish though it had been done on location the way Lust for Life and Moulin Rouge were.
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