Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh
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Top Customer Reviews
The story of Vincent van Gogh's life seems best told in his own words, complete with casual sketches, detailed drawings and famous paintings. In the spirit of "Crows" in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (where we see the Langlois Bridge and Crows in the Wheatfields brought to life), we are entertained by visions of painting after painting. It is fun to watch Akira Kurosawa's Dreams after viewing this movie because then you recognize the paintings that were brought to life in a dream of pure visual delight.
The Café Terrace, Yellow House, Fishing Boats, Bedroom at Arles, Starry Night and Sunflowers are some of the paintings featured, but there is an entire world of Vincent van Gogh's art that is introduced with analytical letters written to his brother. In these letters he tells his brother of the art he is working on and his motivating influences all while we the viewer are entertained with the art, scenes from nature and the acting out of various scenes (Night Café with Pool Table) that eventually became paintings. There are fields of olive trees from Olive Trees 1889 and Vincent's letter speaks of the difficulty of capturing the colors in the soil and tree bark.
When you hear the story of Vincent van Gogh's life in his own words, suddenly he becomes so much more than a famous artist. His life is filled with tragedy and hardship, but he is also able to find stunning beauty through his love of philosophy and his view of the world seems to remain relatively positive right up until his death. He not only travels, he also lives with Gauguin. The art shown after living with Gauguin shows how being able to relate to someone like himself increased his creativity.Read more ›
Here's what I know about artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853 to 1890): (1) He only sold one painting in his lifetime (ironic since one of his paintings in modern times sold for 40 million dollars) (2) he sliced off part of his ear in a fit of madness.
This documentary reveals that there was much, much more to this man. I say documentary but this is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill documentary that was written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Paul Cox.
Beware! This is not a biography of Van Gogh but a look into his psyche during the last eighteen years of his life.
This documentary consists of British actor John Hurt reading from selected letters Van Gough wrote mostly to his younger brother (named Theodore or "Theo"). These letters date from 1872 to 1890. Cox has thus found an effective and unique way to tell Van Gogh's story even though it's somewhat repetitive to listen to Hurt's voice for an hour and a half. (I must admit though, Hurt's voice is interesting and distinctive.)
I learned what an incredibly gifted writer Van Gogh was. These letters reveal his passion, idealism, and frustration. Here is a sentence from one of his letters that I feel accurately and succinctly sums up his life:
"It is basically true that a painter is a man who is too absorbed in what his eyes see and is not sufficiently master of the rest of his life."
On screen, we see a collection of imagery (sometimes random) that relates (sometimes vaguely) to the themes in the letters, interspersed with a few drawings and paintings of Van Gogh's famous works. Occasionally music accompanies the images, some of it classical.Read more ›
The cinematography is intense, personal, agitated, calm, and experimental. It is perfectly suited to the material. This is not a polished, Ken Burns-style documentary. The approach is subjective and risky...but it works. This is smart, touching, belly food.
So why only 4 stars? Now we get to my motivation for writing in the first place. This DVD is an abysmal transfer of the original film. The colors are washed out and bland, the contrast is low. Someone should be arrested for allowing this to happen. Paul Cox, anyone, please "re-master" this film with an original print. Van Gogh's paintings do not come through in this DVD. Very sorry indeed. A major flaw.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful rendering of someone whose life was fraut with sadness and anxiety. A testimony to the human spirit and its perseverance in sharing its vision.Published on August 26, 2014 by John H. Heilman
It was interesting enough and gave information on his work as they showed the paintings, but wasn't as good as I hoped for. Read morePublished on February 19, 2014 by D. Tholen
Van Gogh is a fascinating artist both in his life and his art. I saw this years ago in Newport Beach with my wife and we were quite taken with the presentation. Read morePublished on January 2, 2014 by Robert Butterfield
I am a big fan of the work of Paul Cox?
Vincent special. The idea of making a film just based on letters is very special and works very well in this film. Read more
This movie was a big disappointment - It could have taken only ten minutes to show the art - the rest was just a poorly filmed train or scene going by. Read morePublished on September 18, 2013 by jeanette
This documentary is not easy to follow or watch in a single sitting. It requires several viewings to appreciate. Read morePublished on June 20, 2012 by Hexagonite
This film is composed of Vincents letters, mostly to his brother Theo. If you ever wanted to know about Van Gogh's personal life, this is the film to watch. Read morePublished on February 4, 2012 by Crashu
...or words to that effect. That's what Roger Ebert said, at least. This is a very interesting and enjoyable foray into the beautiful writing of Vincent van Gogh. Read morePublished on October 31, 2011 by Ron L. Caldwell
I will not tell people to buy that DVD of the life and death of vincent Van Gogh, very dispointed with that DVD, it dosn't give much information about his death, so don't buy this... Read morePublished on February 22, 2011 by sam chui