Lust for Life (BD) [Blu-ray]
Tagline – The best-seller comes to the screen…the drama of a man who lived with insatiable passion.
Starring – Kirk Douglas (Vincent van Gogh), Anthony Quinn (Paul Gauguin), James Donald (Theo van Gogh), Pamela Brown (Christine), Everett Sloane (Dr. Gachet).
Released – September, 1956
Directed By – Vincente Minnelli
Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Description – Based on Irving Stone’s 1934 novel, this is the life story of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Many believe that one must experience failure in order to one day realize true success and the life of Vincent van Gogh is a strong testament to that belief.
His obsession with painting and his long suffering problems with mental illness made for a painful and unhappy life.
After failing as both a preacher in a coal-mining town and a social activist, van Gogh would sink into a state of depression. Coming to his aid is his devoted brother Theo, who provides for Vincent’s return to Holland and the home of his father.
A new interest in drawing restores some much needed enthusiasm to his life. Around the same time his recently widowed cousin Kay comes to live with the family for the summer. Vincent enjoys her company and soon finds himself falling in love with her.
Adding to Vincent’s personal turmoil is his new belief in God. Vincent believes that the best way to serve God is through love and art and not through any type of ritual reverence. This is in stark contract to the belief’s of his father, who is a Pastor, and the tension between the two dramatically increases.
No longer able to hide his feelings toward Kay, Vincent confesses his love for her only to be rejected. While in a local bar, Vincent meets a prostitute named Christine who is also in need of comfort and relief from her everyday life. Initially, the two get along very well and they, along with her infant son, share an apartment.
Christine provides Vincent with color paints to experiment with, and the added ability to convey his feelings on canvas with color, along with his growing feelings for Christine, provide Vincent with a new world of artistic creativity.
This period of euphoria proves to be short-lived, as Vincent’s temper and lack of money cause Christine to leave him. Add to this the fact that his father dies and Vincent’s emotional roller-coaster again spirals downward.
During these many agonizing years, only his brother Theo has constantly remained at his side providing both moral and financial support.
His meeting with friend and rival Paul Gauguin, along with the artistic community, provide van Gogh with a level of respect for his art. However, van Gogh never gets along with the other artists and Gauguin, always a critic, puts a strain on even their relationship.
It has been a long, unsatisfying life for van Gogh, but his darkest days are still ahead.
He begins to suffer hallucinations and seizures that he can not control and decides to voluntarily commit himself to a mental institution. After a while, he signs himself out and, with his brother Theo’s help, returns to the countryside to paint.
Van Gogh’s fear that he is still unable to put his vision on canvas once again begin to haunt him and ultimately lead to tragedy.
NOTABLE: Lust for Life won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Anthony Quinn), and received nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Kirk Douglas), Best Writing, Best Screenplay-Adapted, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color.
Many of the films locations were the actual spots visited by van Gogh during his life. On one location, Director Vincente Minelli had a portion of a field spray-painted yellow to more accurately replicate its appearance on a van Gogh painting.
During filming, a young Michael Douglas and his brother ran screaming from the theater in the scene where Van Goth severs his own ear because they believed their father, Kirk Douglas, had actually cut his own ear off.