Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the Footsteps of Vincent van Gogh documentary by BBC

video topic: art
entry type: documentary

video title: In the Footsteps of Vincent van Gogh

artist featured: Vincent van Gogh
producer: BBC
run time: 55 min
size: 600 mb
release date: 2007

official website:

description and preview:
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"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it." Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh was a man who struggled for his art. Perhaps more than any other artistic genius his story is one of struggle. Struggle for recognition, struggle in his relationships with other people, and a titanic struggle within his own head. Dominick Rimbault’s film charts the final two years of the artist’s life that centred around the town of Arles in the south of France. Van Gogh moved to Arles from Paris in the spring of 1888 and continued painting, and struggling, until 27 July 1890, when he walked in to the fields surrounding Auvers-sur-Oise and shot himself.
The film takes as its narrative base the letters of van Gogh to his brother Theo, with whom he was exceptionally close. As such, the film is narrated mainly in van Gogh’s own words to his closest confidante. This approach offers a startling degree of intimacy over this exceptionally turbulent two year period, in which the artist experienced every extreme of overwhelming emotion. They also offer an insight in to the inspirations of van Gogh, who begins waxing lyrical about the Japanese art that made him feel 'much more cheerful and happy' and his new surroundings: 'The future of new art is in the south'.
The words of the artist are set against the beautiful landscapes of southern France and the tiny bedrooms, cafes, doctor’s surgeries where van Gogh spent his time. Many of his paintings from this period are also displayed, with his stormy, tortured landscapes offering an almost brutal comparison to Rimbault’s opening footage of the idyllic French fields and hillsides. Van Gogh also discusses many of his most famous later works, including the iconic sunflower paintings and those emotive cafe scenes. The famous irony, of course, is that the artist was unable to sell any of these paintings during his lifetime, but they are now among the most well-known and popular in the world.
Sadly, van Gogh’s letters reflect his gradual slide into a profound depression that culminated in his suicide. This is mirrored in the film landscapes that become quickly cloudy and overcast. Suddenly the viewer finds themself in a rural countryside that evokes only the artist's 'feeling of loneliness out in the fields'. The trigger of one of van Gogh’s most serous bouts of depression was the breakdown of his friendship with another painter, Paul Gauguin, who came to stay in Arles in 1888. The two artists quarrelled fiercely during his stay and it was then that van Gogh, apparently during some sort of seizure, cut off part of his own ear. Gauguin departed and the two erstwhile friends never saw each other again.
After this incident, van Gogh moved to an asylum in Saint-Remy, some twenty miles away from Arles, and then to Auvers-sur-Oise, nearer to Paris and his brother Theo. Van Gogh continued to paint, and to write to his brother, throughout this period, maintaining 'work distracts me infinitely better than anything else'. Unfortunately, his mental health continued to deteriorate and he committed suicide aged 37, leaving behind the heartbroken Theo and an incredible artistic legacy.

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In The Footsteps Of Vincent van Gogh


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