Van Gogh [VHS] 
French drama about the last months in the life of the artist Van Gogh, directed by Maurice Pialat and starring Jacques Dutronc in the title role. Between May and July 1890, Van Gogh establishes himself in the village of Auvers following his year-long stay in an asylum after his mental breakdown. Forming a supportive relationship with his doctor, Gachet (Gérard Séty), Van Gogh enters into a final burst of creative energy, completing a new canvas every day, and immerses himself in the pastoral, bohemian life of the village.
Pialat is one of the finest living French filmmakers, and Van Gogh, his tenth feature, is arguably one of his best. --Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
An extraordinary film....We flatter ourselves that if we were around in 1890, we would have recognized Van Gogh's genius and changed his fate. But we probably wouldn't have - just as we probably don't recognize the Van Goghs among us now. In this sad, brilliant film, Pialat gives us a terrible inkling of why. --Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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This, his 158 min long tribute to Van Gogh is among his very best. Once you get used to lanky Jacques Dutronc playing him in the first couple of minutes (Van Gogh painted so many self portraits and we all know what he should look like) you can settle into this langurous take on the last two months of Van Gogh's life, from the time of his release from the mental institution, to his death from complications form a suicide attempt. Although it may bother many that Pialat does not spend much time to show Van Gogh furiously painting, I think that was the exact approach to take. After all when this film was made, in 1991, 100 years after Van Gogh's death, we the audience dont need reminding what a genius he was! What interests us was what was his day to day life like, and this is where the film scores. Pailat will take his time not just with Van Gogh but with others around him- his brother Theo and wife. or Dr Gachet and his daughter Marguriette (with whom he has an affair), the women from Paris brothels etc. There are scence and set pieces here as beautiful and fluid as anything by Jean Renoir ( but in colour and bathed in glorious summer light!)The Blu Ray postiviely glows!
It is a film to own and revist if Van Gogh's paintings mean anything to you. There are good supplements to the Blu Ray including many interviews, a superb booklet, and a B&W short made by Pialat on Van Gogh in the early 60's. It's only about 10 mins long but mentions one very interesting fact- that in those last two months at Auveus sur Oise, the period which this film depicts- he completed 70 paintings and 33 drawings! The world can be grateful, given his early death age 37, that this amount of work got done.
'Towering...powerful...masterly...this is a film to savour' Said The Times and they were right!
Possibly contemporary art history and 'Edwardian' idealisations of passionate artists have combined to create unrealistic 'hero' views of Van Gogh, among others, handed down to us, and the producers and advisors of this film are simply attempting to sober (or maybe that should be sombre) some part of this 'myth', but, I don't know.
I think I prefer the unfashionable and outmoded views that grew out of (or maybe went into) making of films like "A passion for Life" and sentimentally based songs like 'Vincent', et al. This is the Van Gogh whose burning lust for life now makes his paintings sell for obscene amounts of cash; He, who is more well know for events in his life than most living contemporaries. Watch the film but it wont have you setting up your easels and brushes after seeing it and painting heated landscapes !
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