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Jalan-Jalan with Jerwin in Singapore

Jalan-Jalan with Jerwin in Singapore
Photo by Jerwin Allen Malabanan

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Watched Lust for Life on HBO last night, on the life of Vincent van Gogh, with Kirk Douglas as van Gogh and Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin. I totally loved it but can see how the average viewer will find it long, dragging, boring, and depressing.

I am certain that the production was very expensive, and could have been made only by a producer and a director who love van Gogh and the Impressionists. Some sets were painstakingly constructed with great detail only to be used in a maximum of two or three shots.

The most impressive features of that film are the clever interface between van Gogh's paintings and actual scenes in the movie--landscapes, trees, flowers, even people and their costumes. On top of everything, many scenes, body positions, and atmospheric lighting were taken from other Impressionists' paintings.

Not only van Gogh and Gauguin figured in that movie; among the others, there were Cezanne, Tanguy, Pissaro, and Seurat, and, of course, van Gogh's brother, Theo. (Monet was conspicuously absent.) I finally affirmed how names were correctly pronounced. (In the Philippines, people say "van Go" instead of "van Gog".)

The homoerotic albeit subliminal relationship between van Gogh and Gauguin was most intriguing. Their violent separation, not van Gogh's unrequited love for a woman, was shown to be the trigger for van Gogh's slicing off his ear. I never encountered that in any art history book, but the film staff seemed to have conducted very extensive research on the subject.

If you paint, watch this movie.