Vincent Van Gogh died on 29 July 1890 at the age of 37 years, unknown and a pauper, having sold only one of the approximately 1800 works he produced in less than a decade.
Despite a fluctuating physical and mental condition, his work initiated one of the most powerful influences upon the direction of modern art.
This film is the story of Vincent Van Gogh, told through his letters to his brother Theo, from 1872 until the time of his death. With these records, we gain some insight into the man, his motivations and his unique humanity.
Through his own words, the film explores the Europe Vincent explored, the sites of his inspiration and the colours and seasons he experienced, from Groot-Zundert, Nuenen, the Borinage, the Hague, Paris, Arles and St. Remy to Auvers, where he died.
Australian filmmaker Paul Cox created this feature-length film as a personal contribution towards the centenary of Vincent’s death in 1990, and as a homage to Vincent himself. It also reflects Paul Cox’s own Dutch origins, and his lifelong interest in Vincent’s life and work.
Director: Paul Cox
Producer: Tony Llewellyn-Jones
Writer: Paul Cox
Cinematographer: Paul Cox
Voice over: John Hurt
Born in Holland and settled in Melbourne since the mid-‘60s, Paul Cox is an auteur of international acclaim, having received numerous international awards. He is one of the most prolific makers of films in Australia, with numerous features, shorts and documentaries to his name. He is the recipient of many special tributes and retrospectives at film festivals across the world, including a major retrospective at the Lincoln Centre in New York in 1992.
His films of the early and mid ‘80s – Lonely Hearts (1981), Man of Flowers (1983), and My First Wife (1984) – were highly acclaimed both locally and internationally.
Man of Flowers premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984, and went on to win Best Film at the 1984 Valladolid Film Festival as well as Best Foreign Film at the 1991 Warsaw Film Festival.
Cactus premiered in Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986 and Vincent won the Jury Prize at the 1988 Istanbul International Filmdays.
A Woman's Tale won the Grand Prix at the 1992 International Flanders Film Festival in Ghent and Exile screened in competition at the 1994 Berlin International Film Festival.
More recently, Cox's highly acclaimed feature Innocence (2000) won massive audience and critical acclaim, including Best Film and the People's Choice Award at the 2000 Montreal World Film Festival; and 5 Australian IF awards including Best Film, Independent Filmmaker of the Year for Paul Cox, and Best Actress for Julia Blake.
Cox’s career continues currently, with features such as Human Touch (2004) and Salvation (2008).
Jury Prize at the 1988 Istanbul International Filmdays
Quoting IMDb: I can only imagine how pleased Van Gogh would be at seeing his work articulated through Paul Cox's lens. Interspersed with countless images of Van Gogh's original work, are cinematic images of the landscapes, the still-lifes, the town, and the people that Van Gogh knew so well. Cox unassumingly uses real people and costumes in an almost dream-like fashion; they exist along the edges of the film, in a sort of blur; as if we were living directly in Van Gogh's dreams and memories. What's most astounding though, is that I never knew what an incredibly gifted writer Van Gogh was. The entire film is narration of Van Gogh's words, in letters written to his brother. His passion, idealism, and frustration are articulated in ways that are so tangible … it makes all other works about frustrated idealists seem downright silly. It took me a while to warm up to John Hurt's narration because I kept envisioning him instead of Van Gogh, but after a little while I got lost in the words just and concentrated on the feeling that Hurt was evoking. By the end I was in tears. It's the best film about an artist that I've ever seen.
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