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Lust for Life

Kirk Douglas , Anthony Quinn , George Cukor , Vincente Minnelli    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.95
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Lust for Life + Vincent and Theo
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Product Description


Lust for Life is appropriately titled, for mere passion seems inadequate when describing this superb fictionalized biography (based on Irving Stone's popular novel) of Vincent Van Gogh. In a deservedly Oscar®- nominated performance, Kirk Douglas is physically and emotionally perfect as the tormented Dutch painter, whose life is chronicled from his ill-fated stint as a preacher to Belgian miners in 1878, to his Impressionist-inspired artistic awakening and psychological descent to suicide in 1890. Having triumphed with 1952's The Bad and the Beautiful, Douglas, producer John Houseman, and director Vincente Minnelli brought vigor and vitality to this blessed project, which centers on Van Gogh's stormy friendship with fellow artist Gaugin (Oscar-winner Anthony Quinn). Minnelli used an outmoded color film process and innovative camera techniques to vividly recreate Van Gogh's paintings, and he filmed on the actual Dutch and French locations where Van Gogh's mastery flourished. The artist's lust for life also fed his madness, and this film deeply understands the fine line in between. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed classic April 1 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Many people consider this to be the standard when it comes to retelling the tragic story of Vincent van Gogh's life.
The film is very good and there's no question that director Vincente Minnelli put a tremendous amount of work into bringing Van Gogh to the screen. The sets and costumes are wonderful.
I suppose that my main criticism of the film is that its "heart" seems to be more firmly set in 1950's Hollywood than in 1880's Europe. In other words, the film has a very constructed, American flavour to it. This is most glaring when many of the scenes shift from Kirk Douglas on the screen (clearly American) to a narrative reading of his letters to his brother, Theo (read by a British narrator)--very jarring. Kirk's performance, though very good, never quite "clinches" the role--he remains a very good actor on a very pretty set.
But certainly I would recommend this film to anyone with an interest in Van Gogh--not a perfect movie by any means, but there are moments that are quite remarkable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I want to create things that touch people" June 1 2004
Format:VHS Tape
With an uncanny resemblance to the self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh, Kirk Douglas is perfect for this detailed and wonderful production of the artist's life; it's a passionate performance of a troubled soul, whose creative urges battled with his mental illness.
The film has an intelligent script by Norman Corwin, based on Irving Stone's biographical novel. It picks up the story around 1879, when Van Gogh was 26 years old, and went to minister (unsuccessfully) to the coal miners of a destitute area, and from there takes us through his many different abodes, his relationship with "Christine", who is well played by Pamela Brown, and the flourishing of his art in his last 15 years of life.
The art direction is superb, and the recreations of the places Van Gogh painted a marvel, among them the famous yellow house he lived in and its bedroom, and my favorite, the pool hall, with its hanging lamps.
The cinematography by Freddy Young and Russell Harlan is terrific, and we get many full screen views of the original paintings, many of them lesser known pieces from private collections.
This was a multi-award winning film, and garnered an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Anthony Quinn, who is fabulous as Paul Gauguin, whose personality was the complete opposite of his friend Van Gogh; the ego clashes when they attempted to live together are well illustrated in several scenes, and with a little addition to his nose, Quinn has been made to look exactly like Gauguin's famous self-portrait with the snake.
James Donald is excellent as Vincent's patient and generous brother, who was Van Gogh's central means of support for most of his lifetime, both financially and of his paintings.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The most watered-down version of van Gogh's life Jan. 14 2001
Format:VHS Tape
If you want to understand van Gogh on a deep level, read the three volume set of his letters. If you want an accurate overview of his life, read the biography by David Sweetman. If you want an extremely entertaining but fictionalized account, read the novel this film was based on: "Lust For Life," by Irving Stone (a great book). If all you want is a sketchy shadow of who this genius was, watch this movie. It is to van Gogh what Disney's "Hunchback" was to Victor Hugo's great novel. Almost nothing in it is true - it doesn't even follow the novel very closely. There are enormous lapses in critical events that are important to understanding van Gogh. People who were influential to the development of his art and philosophy aren't included or are composited into fictional characters. Time is vastly compressed and almost all the events are based on misinformation and are subject to typical Hollywood writing that can't accept the fact that truth may be more entertaining than fiction. The novel is guilty of this type of thing, too, but Irving Stone does such a better job! This film relies on perpetuating every last stereotype and myth about the artist. On the positive side, Kirk Douglas does a very good job looking like van Gogh, and Anthony Quinn's portrayal of Gauguin is right on the money. Miklos Rozsa's score is a classic, as well. Check out the CD! As someone who has studied van Gogh, it is difficult to recommend this film, because it's mostly wrong. For those who don't care about seeing the truth, it's at least entertaining.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Tortured Man As Artist March 22 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The movie stands out ever since I seen it as a kid on tv. Would be something to see in an actual theater. The photography is like his paintings- like them or not, they are vivid and memorable. Saw one of his paintings in a San Francisco gallery 40 years ago. I was very young and very bored. Took a half hour just to get to the Van Gogh, a small painting of an orchard. But it was luminous... I still remeber the glow, and not being able to view it as long as I would have liked. Probably what Van Gogh wanted. My only other familiarity is pictures of his paintings and the movie. The movie is impassioned, and Kirk Douglas LOOKS insane in the cafe while a big celebration is going on in the streets. Nice musical score. A little too dramatic musically on self-infliction scenes, but that is how they made movies then. A modern quality remake might let a scene speak for itself. Good movie for artistic temperaments. Some books on his life might be interesting
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Lust for Life' just the best!!
This DVD of Vincent Van Gogh is great.....it is so convincing that you feel you are watching the artists of that time ...the actors make it a reality ..... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mary J. Eichler
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Flick
We watched this DVD last night and really enjoyed it. Although it is an old film it was well done. Gives one a little more insight into Van Gogh's tragic life.
Published 14 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Classic!
I'm a painter myself, have done alot of reading about the lives of these artists, and can never get over the superb performances of these actors!----Truly a superb movie classic! Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2003 by Rick
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice wholesome family movie
Very enjoyable movie that easily deserves to be added to your home collection. Kirk Douglas underscores his brilliant acting talent to convince the audience of Vincent's lifelong... Read more
Published on July 2 2002 by Robert E. Eshelman
4.0 out of 5 stars Tortured Genius
I would wager that this is really the best work Vincente Minnelli ever did, in spite of his reputation as the famous director of MGM Judy Garland musicals. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2001 by Linda McDonnell
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece to honor a master
I loved this movie!! The tragic, misunderstood life of VINCENT VAN GOUGH is given a chance for sympathy and understanding in this adaptation. Read more
Published on July 11 2001 by Kimberly Bianco
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I was blown away and surprised I'd never heard of "Lust For Life" until It was recommended to me by someone. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2001 by Damon Navas-Howard
4.0 out of 5 stars THE TROUBLED VINCENT
Great acting really makes this film ,and reproductions of his works make it a must see. It was not easy to handle a project like this since VINCENT was mostly a mystical and... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2000 by ALAIN ROBERT
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film that is Timeless
I've seen this movie many times since I was young, but it always seem like I'm seeing it for the first time. Read more
Published on June 28 2000 by sandy
5.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus meets that dot-painter guy...
OK, so it's a little goofy in a few scenes, but Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh! Come on! What more do you need? Read more
Published on Nov. 23 1999 by Craig Loftin
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