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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I live in a beautiful, blinding, swirling mist"
Charles Laughton's portrayal of the great Rembrandt is itself a masterpiece, full of sensitivity, pathos, whimsy, a lustful eye for the women who caught his fancy, and the eccentricities of a genius who lived way beyond his means and owed more than he owned to his creditors.
Rembrandt loved much, and suffered many personal losses, but his paintings became more...
Published on 17 Jun. 2004 by Alejandra Vernon

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dutch Master?
Wonderfully creaky black n' white film set mostly in Amsterdam, following the tribulations of Rembrandt, who is at this point already established as a successful artist. However, there is a certain emphasis on his personal/domestic life so any illumination on his ideas, inspirations and techniques is sadly lacking. The leading actor has an authoratitive air and carries...
Published 11 months ago by RoadkillCill


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I live in a beautiful, blinding, swirling mist", 17 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Rembrandt [VHS] [1936] (VHS Tape)
Charles Laughton's portrayal of the great Rembrandt is itself a masterpiece, full of sensitivity, pathos, whimsy, a lustful eye for the women who caught his fancy, and the eccentricities of a genius who lived way beyond his means and owed more than he owned to his creditors.
Rembrandt loved much, and suffered many personal losses, but his paintings became more luminous and full of emotional depth as the years went by. Laughton is also made to look much like the master, with his wispy mustache, and the resemblance to the famous self-portraits of the last ten years of his life is remarkable.
The film begins when Rembrandt is 36, in 1642, with the passing of his beloved wife Saskia, the model for so many of his works, and is followed by the controversy over his magnificent and enormous "The Night Watch", which was unveiled the same year. I never imagined this picture to be so huge and powerful.
The details of seventeenth century Amsterdam are marvelous, and I especially enjoyed seeing how the studio of the time was set up, with pigments in bottles, and canvas tied to a stretcher frame.
The film belongs to Laughton, and his magnificent performance, but the supporting cast is great, with Elsa Lanchester as Hendrickje, Gertrude Lawrence as his housekeeper and common law wife, and John Bryning as Titus, the only one of his four children with Saskia that survived.
Remarkably clear for its age, with very few crackles in its lovely cinematography by Geoffrey Toye, its years are more noticeable in the soundtrack (by Georges Perinal) than visually. Meticulously directed by Alexander Korda, this film should be seen by all art aficionados, and those who love Rembrandt's work, as you will love it even more after seeing this film. Total running time is 85 minutes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As much Alexander Korda's story as it is Rembrandt's, 14 May 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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It's easy to see what attracted a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants producer like Alexander Korda to direct as well as produce Rembrandt. The constant tightrope between art and bankruptcy, between profligate spending (Korda would famously give his son £100 with instructions "don't spend it, waste it") and poverty, where agents hustle you into career-killing commissions and then spend years suing you for every penny. This is as much Korda's story as it is Rembrandt's.

Unlike later tortured artist biopics like Lust for Life and Moulin Rouge, Rembrandt's trials and tribulations have less to do with suffering for his art than his romantic idealism. Hopelessly romantically in love (requited) and equally hopelessly at sea with the everyday, most of his problems are simply down to money. Prevented from remarrying by bureaucracy's interpretation of his first wife's will, unable to sell his own paintings because they become the property of his creditors as soon as he puts paint to canvas, a prophet without honour not only in Amsterdam but in his own home town where he finds no shelter, he relies on the common sense of others to keep him in paint and canvas, ambling through a life that seems only half-lived in the real world.

Produced on a lavish scale with some striking images and the odd genuinely touching scene, it's not the lusty ribald comedy of The Private Life of Henry VIII, but it's not without wit, especially in the film's funniest scenes between Charles Laughton's Rembrandt and Roger Livesey's unimpressed beggar, both having too much in common to deny it. Indeed, many of the supporting cast would become regular comedy straight men in later years, most notably Raymond Huntley and Edward Chapman (Mr Grimsdale! of Norman Wisdom film fame). A huge flop in its day and a typically tempestuous production thanks to Laughton's tantrums, Rembrandt holds up much better than most of Korda's prestige pictures - it never feels like it's trying too hard and, what's more, it's as entertaining as it is involving with an often spellbinding lead performance.

MGM/UA's region 1 NTSC DVD offers a decent transfer, but it's worth shelling out a bit more for the Criterion/Eclipse Alexander Korda's Private Lives collection which includes this, The Private Life of Henry VII, The Rise of Catherine the Great and The Private Life of Don Juan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dutch Master?, 11 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Rembrandt (DVD)
Wonderfully creaky black n' white film set mostly in Amsterdam, following the tribulations of Rembrandt, who is at this point already established as a successful artist. However, there is a certain emphasis on his personal/domestic life so any illumination on his ideas, inspirations and techniques is sadly lacking. The leading actor has an authoratitive air and carries the part admirably, but I can't help thinking that a well-presented modern rendition is screaming out to be realised (film directors, producers and money-men take note). Or a Beeb costume drama perhaps? This Master is permanently in vogue and justifies a contemporary version of his story, and to explain why he still stands out from the crowd.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Laughton's finest hour., 24 April 2013
By 
Pete Johnson "Pete Johnson" (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
This is the 1936 version, starring Charles Laughton, and directed by Alexander Korda, in sumptuous black and white.
Following almost thirty years in the life of the master painter, towards the end of the 17th century. Charles Laughton is superb in the title role, playing with arrogance, pathos, and twinkling comedy by turn. Elsa Lanchester (Laughton's actual wife) is his love interest, the marvellously-named Hendrikje Stoffels.
We see the artist famous, then penniless, and finally derided, as his paintings get darker and more realistic, and his patrons desert him. A wonderful film, about one of the best painters that ever lived. The performance by Laughton, ageing to reflect the passing years, is one of the best ever from this distinguished English actor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars it would be great if it were remastered, 16 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
A piece of history,both from the film and acting techniques of the period and the creation of rembrandts world.This film is a little masterpiece...it would be great if it were remastered,but somehow it it has a suitable antique air which renders it more credible.So perhaps .not.Loved it.I
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC FILM, 1 Jun. 2010
By 
B. C. Lapping - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
CHARLES LAUGHTON WAS A GREAT ACTOR OF THE OLDER STYLE. INDOORS, YOU KNEW THEY WERE SETS AND USUALLY OUTDOORS. BUT THE WHOLE POINT WAS AN INDUSTRY OF ILLUSION, DONE MATERIALLY.
SO TOO WITH THIS PORTRAYAL OF REMBRANT.
NOTICE THE RENDITION OF HIS LINGUISTICS. THE AMERICANS NEVER PORTRAY HISTORICAL FACTS. THEY TELL LIES BUT IN A VERY ENTERTAINING WAY. EVEN USING BRITISH ACTORS AND STUDIOS, THEY HAVE THE WHIP HAND BECAUSE OF PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION ETC.
BUT CHARLES AND ELSA, HIS REAL WIFE, GIVE VERY FINE PERFORMANCES.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT VIEWING, 4 Feb. 2014
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J. Pang (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
Charles Laughton played this part wonderfully. A really good storyline about such an accomplished painter the world over. View for yourselves - you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Laughton & Lanchester, 19 May 2011
This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
Truly a masterpiece by Alexander Korda and his director of photography Georges Perinal. The performance of Laughton is like three years before in The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD]. Lanchester is also unique. A great period of British cinema.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 May 2015
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Good, but no subtitles! That's a pity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Oct. 2014
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S. Ashton "artdeco" (north wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rembrandt [1936] [DVD] (DVD)
5 star item and seller
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Rembrandt [1936] [DVD]
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