2019 is starting out with a bang for art lovers. With two exciting feature films to be released soon about Vincent Van Gogh – AT ETERNITY’S GATE and LOVING VINCENT – it’s worth examining other past films central to the topic.
1. CHINA’S VAN GOGHS
Documentary, 2016, China https://chinasvangoghs.com/
Director Yu Haibo charts the true-life journey of a Van Gogh copy artist from replica painter to realising their own creative potential. It’s a fascinating behind the scenes of the country’s mass manufacture of art for everyday consumption. These copy artists in their thousands in some places are tasked with producing hundreds of paintings per month to supply souvenir, home decor and department stores globally.
China’s Van Goghs doesn’t simply dwell on the differences between these 21st-century Chinese workers and the 19th-century Dutch maestro; its insight is that they are kindred spirits separated merely by time, geography and social class. Veering sharply away from the stereotype of Chinese laborers as a faceless mass seeking a better quality of life, China’s Van Goghs explores their desire for spiritual fulfillment, too. Source: The Hollywood Reporter
2. VAN GOGH
Feature, 1991, France
This bio-drama told the story of the last remaining days of Van Gogh – his loves and everyday moments, rather than about the art and genius of the man. VAN GOGH received 12 nominations at the Cesar Awards in 1991 – taking out the Best Actor category. Director Maurice Pialat was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival the same year.
Pialat fills the film with iconic Impressionist amusements (dances at riverside cafés, girls at the piano, rowers in straw hats) as well as with the painter’s rugged pleasures, including his wild outburst of drunken joy at a Montmartre dance hall, which plays like the celestial flare of a dying star. Richard Brody, The New Yorker
3. VINCENT AND THEO
Feature, 1990, United States
Robert Altman’s portrayal of the artist Vincent and his entrepreneurial brother Theo was a hit with critics, scoring a 4.5 from Roger Ebert. Tim Roth played the struggling artist in what was a physical role – ready to tear anyone to shreds, who spoke ill of his genius.
Altman’s approach in “Vincent & Theo” is a very immediate, intimate one. He would rather show us things happening than provide themes and explanations. He is most concerned with the relationship that made the art possible, the way in which Theo, the younger brother, essentially became Vincent’s parent and patron. RogerEbert.com
AT ETERNITY’S GATE
What are your favourite films about the artist?