Lust for Life

 (692)7.42 h 2 min195613+
Kirk Douglas gives a fierce portrayal of Van Gogh, an artist tornbetween the joyous inspiration of his genius and the dark desperation ofhis tormented mind.
Vincente Minnelli
Kirk DouglasAnthony QuinnJames Donald
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Pamela BrownEverett SloaneNiall MacGinnisNoel PurcellHenry DaniellMadge KennedyJill BennettLionel JeffriesLaurence NaismithEric PohlmannJeanette Sterke
John Houseman
Warner Home Video
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4.6 out of 5 stars

692 global ratings

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S. J. VolkReviewed in the United States on January 14, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Kirk Douglas was born to play Van Gogh. Just as Marlon Brando was born to play Zapata. (Everything is connected to everything). Kirk was able to channel the great artist's spirit and to amazingly transform himself onscreen into the wildly talented and tortured soul that was Vincent Van Gogh. (Hopefully the real Vincent has since evolved and found peace). Interestingly, Douglas' co-star Anthony Quinn won an oscar as best supporting actor, just as he had previously won an oscar for supporting Brando in "Viva Zapata". (See what I mean about connections).

The dynamic screenplay was written by Norman Corwin, and was based on the novel "Lust For Life" by Irving Stone. The great movie was directed by Vincente Minnelli (Liza's father), with George Cukor as assistant director; and with an outstanding musical score by Miklos Rozsa. Today, at age 100, Kirk Douglas is still going strong. And I hope he enjoys knowing that his acting genius will forever provide viewing pleasure to millions of people around the world.

(If this review was helpful to you in any way, please click on the "Helpful" key below, or write a comment. Thanks).
31 people found this helpful
JakeGittesReviewed in the United States on March 19, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Kirk Douglas deftly portrays a troubled painter who may or may not have been like Vincent Van Gogh
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There are many moments of Vincent that seem embarassingly naive to our modern eyes, not the least of which are the set pieces meant to depict the beautiful dutch countryside. But one thing that can't be questioned is the intensity of character that Douglas creates playing the troubled genius Vincent Van Gogh. By all accounts Van Gogh was a difficult man. He is, of course, also considered one of the most important painters of the post-modernist era, universally revered for his art while mythologized for his mental troubles. But Douglas never strays into mythologizing here, instead creating a nuanced character capable of passion, goodness, self-righteousness, pettiness and all the other facets that make up a human being. Douglas' Vincent seems real to me, a man of ordinary desires, immense talents, and mundane and also tragic flaws. By the end of the film I felt both pity and relief, not just for Van Gogh but for myself--Van Gogh is not a man many of us could endure for very long. Douglas might not have accurately embodied Vincent Van Gogh. Can anyone truly do such a thing? What he does do is create a character that is both sympathetic and troubled, lovable and detestable, without turning it into a shallow charicature.
3 people found this helpful
MICHAEL STONEHILLReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
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When producer John Houseman and director Vincente Minnelli got together to bring Irving Stone's best seller "Lust for Life" to the big screen in 1956 they spared no expense in their quest to show the life of Vincent Van Gogh, the post Impressionist Dutch painter, to a whole new audience. MGM made the film into a big Cinemascope production and cast Kirk Douglas in the title role. Warner's has finally released the film on Blu-ray and the results are outstanding to say the least. This new Blu-ray is a big improvement over the 2006 standard DVD with colors being not only brighter, but rich and deeper too. The cinematography by the great Freddie Young ("Lawrence of Arabia", "Doctor Zhivago", "Ryan's Daughter") and Russell Harlan is given new life on Blu-ray(Bitrate: 27.92) and the richness of Van Gogh's paintings is front and center with colors just popping off the screen. Since it was filmed in Cinemascope(Aspect ratio: 2.35:1) there is some movement within the frame during some of the long shots, but overall this is a very pleasing viewing experience that should delight fans of the film. There are no vertical lines, white specks, torn or damage frames and one only has to view the documentary included with the special features to see the difference in the colors. Director Vincente Minnelli filmed at the actual locations that Van Gogh lived and worked and this is where Freddie Young's cinematography is really on display. During his short lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh created over 2,100 works of art and many of the most famous of these are used in the film. The honesty of Van Gogh's paintings and colors are really on display with yellows, blues, reds, greens and whites looking exceptional on Blu-ray. As for the acting, Kirk Douglas gives probably his greatest performance as the tortured artist bringing his acting talents to full measure during Van Gogh's descent into mental illness. Anthony Quinn gives great support in his role as painter Paul Gauguin which won him an Oscar. "Lust for Life" is 122 minutes and contains the following subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and Czech. The Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital for the following: French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Special features include a commentary by film historian Drew Casper and a documentary "Van Gogh: Darkness into Light" about the making of the film.(Please note that the Blu-ray disc itself is housed in an eco-cutout case so you may want to switch to a more study and solid Blu-ray case for added protection). "Lust for Life" is an excellent film on the tragic life of one of the greatest painters in the history of art and Warner's new Blu-ray has given it a whole new life on Blu-ray. It comes highly recommended.
22 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on February 26, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
LUST FOR LIFE [1956] [Blu-ray]
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LUST FOR LIFE [1956] [Blu-ray] High-Voltage Acting! Kirk Douglas Finest Performance!

Vibrant orange sunflowers. Rippling yellow grain. Trees bursting with white bloom. “The pictures come to me as in a dream,” Vincent van Gogh said. A dream that too often turned to life-shattering nightmare. Winner of the Golden Globe® and the New York Film Critics Best Actor Awards, Kirk Douglas gives a fierce portrayal as the artist torn between the joyous inspiration of his genius and the dark desperation of his tormented mind. The obsessed Vincent van Gogh painted the way other men breathe, driving away family and friends, including artist Paul Gauguin [Anthony Quinn, 1956 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award® winner]. Directed by Vincente Minnelli and saturated with the hues of Vincent van Gogh’s sea, field and sky. ‘Lust for Life’ captures the ecstasy of art and the agony of one man’s life.

FILM FACTS: Academy Awards® Won: Anthony Quinn for Actor in a Supporting Role. Nominations: Kirk Douglas for Best Actor. Nominations: Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters and Preston Ames for Best Art Direction (Color). Nominations: Edwin B. Willis and F. Keogh Gleason for Set Decoration. Nominations: Norman Corwin for Writing (Screenplay for Adaption). Two hundred enlarged colour photos were used representing Vincent Van Gogh’s completed canvases; these were in addition to copies that were executed by an American art teacher, Robert Parker. In preparation for the film, Kirk Douglas practiced painting crows so that he could reasonably imitate Vincent van Gogh at work. Based on the 1934 novel by Irving Stone and adapted by Norman Corwin.

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, James Donald, Pamela Brown, Everett Sloane, Henry Daniell, Madge Kennedy, Noel Purcell, Niall MacGinnis, Jill Bennett, Lionel Jeffries, Laurence Naismith, Eric Pohlmann, Jeanette Sterke and Toni Gerry

Director: Vincente Minnelli and George Cukor (uncredited supervised one retake)

Producer: John Houseman

Screenplay: Norman Corwin and Irving Stone (novel)

Composer: Miklós Rózsa

Cinematography: Freddie A. Young and Russell Harlan

Video Resolution: 1080p [Metrocolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 [CinemaScope]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Castilian]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Latin]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish [Castilian], Dutch and Spanish [Latin]

Running Time: 122 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Warner Home Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: For many years, it was common wisdom in Hollywood that an artist's life was not a successful subject for film and, truth be told, many potentially fascinating biographies have made dreadful films. So, although M-G-M owned the rights since 1946 of Irving Stone's hugely popular 1934 novel about the tortured painter Vincent van Gogh, a film version was repeatedly shelved as too risky. But after a very successful international Vincent van Gogh exhibit in the 1950s introduced his work to hundreds of thousands of people.

Vincente Minnelli was the ideal choice to bring the story to the screen. A former stage designer known for his visual style that mirrored and amplified the dramatic story of each of his films, he was the right match for a movie about a painter. But he had to fight several battles to get the look he wanted; some he won, some he didn't. Vincente Minnelli didn't want to use the CinemaScope aspect ratio for ‘Lust for Life’ and reasoning that, as he said in his autobiography, but the then-popular process was a must for M-G-M, which like every other studio was looking for cinematic gimmicks to overcome the threat of television.

Another problem concerned with filming Vincent van Gogh's actual paintings. The masterpieces could have been ruined by the intense light required for motion picture cameras, so Vincente Minnelli sent crews into museums and private collectors' homes to capture about 200 of Vincent van Gogh's paintings with special portrait cameras that made time exposures without excessive light. Enlarged transparencies were then made of each shot, which were backlit and re-filmed with special lenses.

Clearly, the most dramatic feature of the life of Vincent van Gogh was the difference between his painting, which was forceful and sunny and warm, and the character of his disposition, which was clouded by dark and maddening moods, including the celebrated episode of his slicing off his own ear. Thus, it is gratifying to see that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in the persons of producer John Houseman and a crew of superb technicians, has consciously made the flow of colour and the interplay of compositions and hues the most forceful devices for conveying a motion picture comprehension of Vincent van Gogh.

The tortuous career of the artist is recounted faithfully, from his experiences as an evangelist in a Belgian mining district to his ultimate suicide. The brutal rebuff of his love is in it, the turmoil of his affair with a prostitute, the uncertainty of his life in Paris and the explosiveness of his residence in Arles with Paul Gauguin. The incidents of the painter's manifestations of insecurity and emotional torment are well arranged, and Kirk Douglas performs them with superior intensity, variety and yet restraint. What is more, and especially fascinating, is the remarkable resemblance he bears to the famous self-portraits of the artist which are discreetly but prominently displayed. Vincente Minnelli's celebration of the life of Vincent van Gogh is well-researched and enjoyable, even if it gives the best lines to Paul Gauguin.

Don't let the catchpenny title, especially from the doorstop biography by Irving Stone, put you off as this is an extremely superior example of the Hollywood biopic, the tale of tortured painter Vincent van Gogh who is uncannily well played by Kirk Douglas, who seems to capture the very essence of the tormented artist, though it was actually Anthony Quinn's Paul Gauguin that won the OSCAR® for this film. It's lovingly crafted by brilliant director Vincente Minnelli, with superb colour and CinemaScope cinematography from Russell Harlan and the great Freddie Young, who was responsible for the glorious look of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and making the authentic Arles location look stunning and Miklos Rozsa, who also did the scores of ‘Spellbound’ and ‘The Lost Weekend’ gives a sweeping magical fine score are also major plus points. This intelligent, beautifully made film was never a commercial success, but it acquired a cult following, largely owing to Vincente Minnelli's colour sense and Kirk Douglas's magnificent crystalline performance.

Touching and tragic, this is a glorious, brilliant film that memorialises the world's greatest painter and perhaps the world's most loving brother. While its early scenes have a Hollywood look about them, much of the film is shot outdoors and has a great breath of air and the free spirit that somehow led Vincent van Gogh to his incredible and indelible visions. Despite half-a-dozen recent attempts to "correct" this biopic, Vincente Minnelli's agonised portrait of the life of Vincent Van Gogh remains the definitive film on the subject of Vincent van Gogh. Intelligently written, made with conviction and crowned by two passionately intense performances, ‘Lust for Life’ is a key film of the mid-1950s. Kirk Douglas wanted to play Van Gogh ever since director Jean Negulesco told him he resembled the artist. He threw himself into the role; to the point of taking on so many of the artist's stormy, unstable traits he frightened his wife in his off-hours at home.

Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘Lust for Life’ is presented in a brilliant aspect ratio 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and especially with a stunning 1080p encoded image. The film used what was then a brand-new process dubbed Metrocolor, which replaced three-strip Technicolor with a single three-layer strip. It has been reported that a new 4k scan of the original camera negative was the source for this 1080p encoded Blu-ray. The film's grain structure is fine and natural, and the black levels are excellent, especially when Vincent van Gogh's visit to the coal mines, is a good example.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘Lust for Life’ has a really good 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound field. Characters at the opposite ends of the screen routinely have their voices issuing from the left and right front speakers. The track does not have significant rear channel activity except to open up the lush orchestral score by Miklós Rózsa which is the real benefactor here. This is not a film that has a lot of action, but this soundtrack proves that subtle touches can really make a lot of difference. This is not the type of soundtrack that jumps out as well crafted, but it handles all the basics and throws in some great presence.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Film Historian Dr. Drew Casper: Dr. Drew Casper is the professor of film at the USC and the author of “Vincente Minnelli and the Film Musical” and among other books. This commentary was originally on the 2006 Warner Home Video DVD release. Sadly as Dr. Drew Casper talks about this film and all involved with the film, you can hear he is reading a script. Sadly his voice is very effete, monotone, pedestrian and so very boring, plus he is very effete, which if you look up the in the dictionary, it tells you that a person of this personality who is “effete” it says they are affected, over-refined, ineffectual, artificial and pretentious, plus his research and minimal charisma doesn’t help, so if you can stay awake while he drones on, you will learn some worthwhile information.

Special Feature: Van Gogh: Darkness into Light [1956] [1080p] [16:9] [20:20] M-G-M produced this short film Van Gogh: Darkness Into Light, and is narrated and presented by Dore Schary and showing the European locations used for the filming, to promote the film ‘Lust for Life.’ In the film, a 75-year-old woman from Auvers-sur-Oise and not Jeanne Calment, who lived in Arles several hundred kms to the south, who claims to have known Vincent van Gogh when she was a young girl, meets star actor Kirk Douglas, and comments on how much he looks like the painter. At the start and ending of the film, the creators list and thank a number of galleries, collectors, and historians who allowed the works of Vincent van Gogh to be photographed for the film.

Theatrical Trailer [1956] [1080p] [2.55:1] [3:04] This is the original trailer for ‘Lust for Life.’

Finally, for a 50-year-old film, ‘Lust for Life' image is surprisingly bright and vibrant. Warner Home Video has done a commendable job restoring this film to a condition that must be comparable to what audiences saw in 1956. Those who saw the film during its original cinema run, or those who have a passion for overly melodramatic films classics, will probably find much to praise about ‘Lust for Life,’ which was always a very special film; especially with Vincente Minnelli’s intensity behind the camera felt in every frame projected onto the screen. Here, at long last, is the film in a manner befitting its artistry. You are going to love this Blu-ray disc. It’s that simple. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
11 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on July 9, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Most certainly a 1950s movie
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This movie reeks of the writing style of Irving Stone. The music is dreadful .... typical 50s melodramatic. It is also extremely sexist in the way 50s movies all seem to be.

One interesting thing about the movie is that views outside windows in many of the scenes are very poorly painted. Obviously, most of this was filmed on a stage etc.

The movie is over acted, overly dramatic, and is going to do little to educate you about the painter himself.
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 19, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Extraordinary film.
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Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh and Anthony Quinn as are Gaughen are magnificent. Quinn won a best supporting Oscar for his role. However, Douglas lost to Yul Brynner for The King and I. The year1956 was a golden one for great films and performances: Charlton Heston as Moses in the 10 Commandments; James Dean as Jett Rink in Giant; Tyrone Power as the musician in The Eddy Duchen Story; and Douglas and Brynner. They should given one each to these actors!
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on March 6, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
starry starry night Vincent Van Gogh's life as an artist as a person
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This movie was released in 1956 and as timeless as Vincent Van Gogh himself. Great movie about Van Gogh staring the great Kirk Douglas (who just passed in 2020) Move takes you along the up and down roller coaster ride of Vincents life about his painting about his sickness. I like this movie a lot and suggest seeing it !
One person found this helpful
Martin L. ShoemakerReviewed in the United States on April 29, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
A movie I had to watch
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I saw on TCM a "making of" special about this film, and it looked interesting. And I've always liked van Gogh's artwork. So I decided to give this a try.

Now to understand how much I enjoyed this film, you have to understand how I normally "watch" movies: with my nose buried in my computer, writing software or fiction. Once in a while I look up for an exciting scene, but mostly I listen to the film in the background.

Not far into "Lust for Life", I put down the computer. Then I turned off the room light, so I could get a clearer picture. This was one film I truly WATCHED. The director did a phenomenal job of putting van Gogh's work into the context of the real places where he worked. He even hired locals for many of the lesser roles. The movie made me feel like I was there, and gave me a new appreciation for works I had long enjoyed.

And once the film caught my attention, it spoke to me. I'm in two creative fields, and I've experienced times where the work just took over my mind. The more I worked, the more the ideas drove me to even more ambitious ideas, almost like a feedback loop. It's hard for me even to describe; but Kirk Douglas in this film captured that feeling exactly, and I really identified with the man. At the same time, in van Gogh's case this drive took over his life; and the result was tragic (and a little ominous).

Since then, I've researched the real story. The film isn't 100% historically accurate. It's a little sanitized and a little dramatized. But the differences are small, and inconsequential.

Finally, I have to note the excellent performance of Anthony Quinn as Gauguin (sp?). I honestly couldn't recognize him in this role. I'm more familiar with his later roles, where it seemed like directors hired him to play Anthony Quinn, kindly wise old man. This film made me realize I've missed some of his best work. He really became the character for me.
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