Review: ‘Vincent – The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh’

This very special art film is neither documentary nor fiction. Paul Cox, one of Australia's foremost directors, was born in Holland and has made an exquisite, timeless tribute to Vincent Van Gogh using as his text simply the letters Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, letters beautifully read by John Hurt.

This very special art film is neither documentary nor fiction. Paul Cox, one of Australia’s foremost directors, was born in Holland and has made an exquisite, timeless tribute to Vincent Van Gogh using as his text simply the letters Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, letters beautifully read by John Hurt.

Van Gogh worked as a painter for only 10 years, and during that period produced about 1,800 works, but when he killed himself at 37 in 1890 he had only sold one of them, and was unknown and impoverished. Cox’ film covers those last 10 years but, save for one brief moment at the end, when Van Gogh’s funeral is depicted, the central character of the drama is never seen. His thoughts and philosophies are enunciated superbly on the soundtrack.

Cox traveled to the places Van Gogh knew, lived and worked. The images accompanying the text are of trees and fields and birds in flight, and the inevitable sunflowers. And, of course, there are the paintings themselves.

Vincent - The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh

Australia - Netherlands

Production

Illumination/Look/Ozfilms/Dash. Director Paul Cox; Producer Tony Llewellyn-Jones; Screenplay Paul Cox; Camera Paul Cox; Editor Paul Cox; Music Norman Kaye; Art Director Neil Angwin

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 103 MIN.
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