Van Gogh (1991 film)

Van Gogh

Directed by Maurice Pialat
Written by Maurice Pialat
Starring Jacques Dutronc
Alexandra London
Bernard Le Coq
Gérard Séty
Elsa Zylberstein
Cinematography Gilles Henry
Emmanuel Machuel
Edited by Yann Dedet
Nathalie Hubert
Hélène Viard
Distributed by Gaumont
Release dates
  • 30 October 1991 (1991-10-30)
Running time
158 minutes
Country France
Language French

Van Gogh is a 1991 French film written and directed by Maurice Pialat. It stars Jacques Dutronc in the role of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, a role for which he won the 1992 César Award for Best Actor. Set in 1890, the film follows the last 67 days of Van Gogh's life and explores his relationships with his brother Theo, his physician Paul Gachet (most famous as the subject of Van Gogh's painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet), and the women in his life, including Gachet's daughter, Marguerite.

The film was entered into the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[1] The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2]


Approach to biography

The film is noted for its anti-melodramatic[3] and unsensationalistic[4] approach to Van Gogh's life. For this reason it is often contrasted with Vincente Minnelli's Van Gogh film Lust for Life.[3] Very little time is devoted to Van Gogh's art and work, with the bulk of the 158-minute running time occupied by the artist's often difficult personal relationships and declining mental state. The film omits any references to many of the most famous incidents in Van Gogh's life (including his attempt to cut off his ear in 1888) in favor of concentrating on the social dynamics of the late 19th century.

Writing in The Washington Post, critic Desson Howe explains: "In the movie, you don't see Van Gogh (Jacques Dutronc) complete the final brush stroke of a masterpiece, then call up old Gauguin for a celebratory absinthe. You do see a thin, stringy man, suffering from headaches, enjoying whores and moping around irascibly. Van Gogh denies you familiar highlights, keeps you from his working elbow and avoids the Ear Thing. But it shows you the quotidian stuff in between. This is the story of an artist being human, carrying canvases out or lugging them back in – their famous images intentionally out of sight."[5]

See also


  1. "Festival de Cannes: Van Gogh". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  2. Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  3. 1 2 Chicago Reader: Van Gogh
  4. BBC Review: Van Gogh
  5. Washington Post Review of Van Gogh
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