In the final year of his life, Rembrandt painted a series of self-portraits that show him in a dark, lonely state of mind. Stelling has painstakingly recreated the pathetic end of a genius ...
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At the center of this extremely visualized narrative are the illusionist and his brother, who is lazy on the basis of either great love, or exorbitant envy of the brother. Having spoiled ... See full summary »
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Jim van der Woude,
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René van 't Hof
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Hilde Van Mieghem,
Ellen Ten Damme
In the final year of his life, Rembrandt painted a series of self-portraits that show him in a dark, lonely state of mind. Stelling has painstakingly recreated the pathetic end of a genius with an authenticity that allows viewers to infer their own conclusions about the relationship between Rembrandt's life and art.Written by
... and maybe not much besides, in my humble opinion. But first, it is essential to say that the film is absolutely gorgeous, and for that reason alone deserves to be seen.Many scenes are moments of intense beauty, in a way quite reminiscent of the Flemish paintings of the seventeenth century (in fact, some of the most famous Rembrandt paintings are stunningly reproduced on the screen).Wood, cloth, pigments, wine, flesh, copper... every kind of substance is here filmed with a passion and a love for details that echoes the best still-lifes of the old Flemish masters. If you ever thought that water dripping on a window pane, dim light reflected by a helmet or the face of a woman who is sleeping or giving birth can be fascinating, hypnotizing things (and I, for one, gladly agree), this is undoubtedly one for you.Moreover, the film has of course something that the still-lifes could only allude to, and that is movement. The water actually drips, the light on the helmet imperceptibly changes and the barely visible moves on the quiet face of Rembrandt's wife are a more poignant thing than I could say.The way scenes succeed to one another, without always being closely related (I don't mean it's surrealism, I just mean that the storyline isn't what gives this movie its coherence), but with beautiful changes of scenery or point of view, gives the film a poetic quality achieved only in few.
Now, I certainly wouldn't recommend Rembrand fecit to anyone.As you can probably guess from what precedes, the pace is extremely slow. Nothing much happens in this movie, and if you don't already know a couple of things about the life of Rembrandt, it may almost seem confused at some points. Don't expect to see a standard biopic, because that's clearly not what director Stelling intended to do.
Besides, Rembrandt appears here as a very curious character, on the verge of neurosis, I would say. Stelling's brother, who acts the part (and is, by the way, quite good) utters no more than twenty or thirty sentences in the whole film. The other characters are no incorrigible chatterboxes either, but Rembrandt's eerie silence sometimes made me want to scream.Admittedly, what we have here is a kind of psychological study, and a comment about art and creation, particularly the art of self-portrait (the fascination of Rembrandt for his own face is repeatedly emphasized all along the movie). Now, I confess I'm not crazy about that kind of thing, which I tend to think too self-conscious, and a bit boring.In biographies, Rembrandt seems a slightly more joyous character that what we have here - apparently, he was able to laugh.
Fellini was a master when it came to associating visual poetry with exuberant joy and life. OK, I can see that that's not what Stelling intended to do, but even, I confess that I can't see the point in being so depressing.The cheerlessness of many "arty" movies seems more of an intellectual fashion than an artistic necessity to me. Anyway, you're warned.
But I don't want to seem too harsh, so let's repeat: the film is a visual masterpiece, a treat for the eyes, so if you're interested at all in visual arts (and if you're not, why the hell are you here?) you simply have to see it.
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