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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Irving Stone's novel was first published in 1946 and MGM purchased the film rights in that year. However, there was a rider to the purchase - the film would have to be made within ten years or else the rights would revert to the author. MGM took a very long time to decide on whether or not to make the film (producer John Houseman believed that it was the big box-office success of "Moulin Rouge", with Jose Ferrer as Toulouse-Lautrec that finally spurred them on) and the film had to be made against the clock, as it were. However, the completed movie was in cinemas before the end of 1956. See more »
While a strong wind lashes Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin in a Brittany vineyard, blowing over their easels and causing Gauguin to call it a "gale", the trees in the background are absolutely still. See more »
Commissioner De Smet:
You are now qualified for evangelical work, under the auspices of The Belgian Committee of the Messengers of the Faith. May the lord guide you, and sustain you in all your ways.
[gets up from the table and dismisses the five aspiring clergymen from the room, then looks unenthused at Vincent Van Gogh waiting in the hallway before closing the door and sitting back down]
Congratulations Dr. Gachet, a very creditable group of young men.
Commissioner De Smet:
Now about this other young man Dr. Gachet. Are you ...
[...] See more »
I've seen this movie several times now, and every time with enjoyment and great appreciation.
The acting by Douglas and Quinn is truly first rate. It's a shame Douglas didn't get the best actor Oscar for which he was so deservedly nominated, but competition that year in that category was fierce. He truly makes you feel van Gogh's frightened agony, both at not being able to achieve what he wanted in his art and his fear of approaching insanity. (It ran in van Gogh's family; he knew what was coming.)
But I also enjoy the great efforts made to reproduce the scenes van Gogh painted, whether in Holland, Arles, or outside Paris. That couldn't have been easy, but if you know van Gogh's work, it really adds to the effect the movie makes.
There are times when the characters speak like an art history textbook - though those painters did love to discuss their theories on art, as you see in their letters.
Still, I consider this to be one fine movie. Whether it gives an accurate depiction of van Gogh or Gauguin is beside the point. It's based on a novel by Irving Stone, who didn't hesitate to change facts to make for a book that would sell; it's not a BBC documentary, and shouldn't be judged as such. It does a great job of showing us the torments of a great painter, and gives us some idea of what van Gogh was up to. That's more than enough for me.
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