THE TERRIBLE LONELINESS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH
Unlucky Frank | Lalaland, CA United States | 08/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the greatest films ever made about the madness of creative genius. As films about artists go, I like this film better than POLLOCK and almost as much as BASQUIAT. This is very much an overlooked CLASSIC. I have friends who are fans of Van Gogh's who have never heard of this film. Based on the book of the same title by Irving Stone and for those who love DEAR THEO: the abridged letters of Vincent Van Gogh, a must see. This film absolutely conveys the heartbreaking feeling of this starving misunderstood genius pounding his lifeblood into canvas in a French atelier or countryside while the gallery owners scoff and the painter remains unrecognized and unloved. Kirk Douglas' finest performance, is fraught with peril. Anthony Quinn, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Paul Gauguin, is superb. The script, some of which was taken from Van Gogh himself, is sometimes dated but always poignant: "Sometimes the pictures come to me as if in a dream, with a terrible lucidity." BRILLIANT!!Unfortunately the VHS format is fullscreen which begs the question; WHY IS THIS MASTERPIECE UNAVAILABLE IN WIDESCREEN ON DVD!?! What a cultural wasteland: I could probably find ERNEST GOES TO CAMP on DVD, but try to find this CLASSIC and the clerk at the local HOLLYWOOD VIDEO might say, "LUST FOR LIFE? That would probably be in the Adult Film Section." I hope someone is working hard to preserve this Masterpiece. Anything less would be a shame. My VHS tape has been viewed so many times the magnetic particles are starting to fall off. If the DVD doesn't come out soon I'll be forced to buy another copy on VHS.(SIGH)"
"I want to create things that touch people"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With an uncanny resemblance to the self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh, Kirk Douglas is perfect for this detailed and wonderful production of the artist's life; it's a passionate performance of a troubled soul, whose creative urges battled with his mental illness.
The film has an intelligent script by Norman Corwin, based on Irving Stone's biographical novel. It picks up the story around 1879, when Van Gogh was 26 years old, and went to minister (unsuccessfully) to the coal miners of a destitute area, and from there takes us through his many different abodes, his relationship with "Christine", who is well played by Pamela Brown, and the flourishing of his art in his last 15 years of life.The art direction is superb, and the recreations of the places Van Gogh painted a marvel, among them the famous yellow house he lived in and its bedroom, and my favorite, the pool hall, with its hanging lamps.
The cinematography by Freddy Young and Russell Harlan is terrific, and we get many full screen views of the original paintings, many of them lesser known pieces from private collections.This was a multi-award winning film, and garnered an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Anthony Quinn, who is fabulous as Paul Gauguin, whose personality was the complete opposite of his friend Van Gogh; the ego clashes when they attempted to live together are well illustrated in several scenes, and with a little addition to his nose, Quinn has been made to look exactly like Gauguin's famous self-portrait with the snake.
James Donald is excellent as Vincent's patient and generous brother, who was Van Gogh's central means of support for most of his lifetime, both financially and of his paintings.
A tremendous knowledge about art went into this film, and it's one of the best artist biographies ever put to film (another good one also came from a Stone best seller, "The Agony and the Ecstasy"), and is a must-see for artists and anyone with an interest in Van Gogh's genius. Total running time is 122 minutes."
A great film about Van Gogh
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 02/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lust for Life based on Irving Stone's novel about Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was filmed in 1956 and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Kirk Douglas as Vincent crackles with intensity. He won a Golden Globe award for his portrayal; depicting Van Gogh's artistic growth, deep loneliness and inevitable descent into madness with sensitivity and pathos. It is a moving performance that, along with Spartacus and Paths of Glory, is one of his best. Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. James Donald is especially touching as Vincent's loving Brother Theo. The film features a powerful and poignant musical score by the great film and Classical Music composer Miklos Rozsa, composer of music for Ben-Hur, Double Indemnity, Ivanhoe and The Lost Weekend amongst many others. This film is, along with John Huston's Moulin Rouge made in 1952 about the life of Toulouse-Latrec, one of my favorite Hollywood films about an artist.
As soon as the titles appear on this recently released DVD you are aware of the superb transfer to disc. Written with Van Gogh's trademark thick impasto technique, they leap off the screen with 3-dimensional brilliance, breathtakingly alive. This is important because the film contains dozens of Van Gogh's most famous art works, all filmed from the originals in the possession of private collectors and museums. With their thick swirls of color and movement, the images are stunningly beautiful; making the DVD of the film a living art gallery. This was worth the price of the DVD for me. I wish there was some way each one of the paintings could have been bookmarked on the DVD to make them easier to find. Alas no. However, the other more disappointing aspect of this DVD release is that it does not contain the 30 minute long "Making of" documentary that often followed the showing of this film on Turner Classic Movies. This fine documentary showed how modern locations in Holland, Belgium and France were painstakingly converted into the late 19th Century locations actually painted by Van Gogh. It also showed how Kirk Douglas developed his characterization. It featured the process by which extras were chosen amongst local townspeople, including one old French woman who had actually known Van Gogh, had seen him paint and remarked upon Douglas' uncanny resemblance to the painter. It is a wonderful little film and its absence from this DVD is inexplicable. There is certainly room for it. The only extras are a 3 minute trailer and a fine commentary by Dr. Drew Casper, a film historian who gives a deeper, more academic analysis of the film than is usual for a commercial release not on Criterion or Kino. This was a missed opportunity by Turner Entertainment that makes no sense and is deeply disappointing.
The film is in color shot in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs. It looks beautiful, almost 3-dimensionally vivid. It is 122 minutes in length. Sound is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and sounds glorious. Miklos Rozsa's music sounds especially alive. Languages for menus are English and French. Subtitles are in English, French and Spanish. The region code is NTSC 1.
This is a film definitely worth getting for its beauty and its excellence. Its lack of appropriate extras is disappointing but that is tempered by gratitude for finally having this wonderful, deeply moving film available on DVD. I strongly recommend this DVD release for that fact alone.
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 08/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I would wager that this is really the best work Vincente Minnelli ever did, in spite of his reputation as the famous director of MGM Judy Garland musicals. "Lust for Life" has a power and pathos to it that is seldom matched in biographical movies. The story of Vincent Van Gogh's struggle to paint and find companionship is beautifully brought to life here. And of course, that is due to superstar Kirk Douglas' intensity as the tortured artist. The scenes he plays with Anthony Quinn's Paul Gaugin are so touching, as even Gaugin (a very hard person) must acknowledge how sad Vincent's longing for a friend is.Highlighting the film also are the color depictions of many of Van Gogh's canvases, raw in color and emotion, a testament to a man who didn't know how to do anything by halves, but gave his whole heart and soul to everything he did and everyone he loved, whether reciprocated or not."