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In late spring, 1890, Vincent moves to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, under the care of Dr. Gachet, living in a humble inn. Fewer than 70 days later, Vincent dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We see Vincent at work, painting landscapes and portraits. His brother Theo, wife Johanna, and their baby visit Auvers. Vincent is playful and charming, engaging the attentions of Gachet’s daughter Marguerite (who’s half Vincent’s age), a young maid at the inn, Cathy a Parisian prostitute, and Johanna. Shortly before his death, Vincent visits Paris, quarrels with Theo, disparages his own art and accomplishments, dances at a brothel, and is warm then cold toward Marguerite.
For more about Van Gogh and the Van Gogh Blu-ray release, see Van Gogh Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 31, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jacques Dutronc, Alexandra London, Bernard Le Coq
Director: Maurice Pialat
» See full cast & crew
Van Gogh Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 31, 2013
Nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival and winner of Cesar Award for Best Actor, Maurice Pialat's "Van Gogh" (1991) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on this release include an original theatrical trailer for the film; video interview with actor Bernard Le Coq; with cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel; archival interviews with Jacques Dutronc and Maurice Pialat; deleted scenes; and more. The release also arrives with a 56-page illustrated booklet containing a new and exclusive essay by critic Sabrina Marques; Jean-Luc Godard's letter to Pialat after seeing the film, followed by Godard's tribute to Pialat upon the director's passing in 2003; copious newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat; images of Pialat's canvasses; rare imagery; and more. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, 1890. Disillusioned and feeling weak, Vincent Van Gogh (Jacques Dutronc, My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days) spends most of his time alone. Occasionally, his brother Theo (Bernard Le Coq, Hidden) visits him and they talk about his work. Deep inside Theo believes that Vincent has wasted his talent - instead of trying to earn the admiration of the critics with his unique style, his brother could have imitated Renoir and sold many of his paintings to wealthy collectors across Europe. But Vincent cannot stand the critics and their puppets, the collectors, because he is convinced that they are savages who are incapable of understanding, let alone appreciating, his work.
Theo's wife, Jo (Corinne Bourdon, Under the Sun of Satan), is concerned about Vincent's health. She often urges her husband to continue supporting Vincent even though they have also started struggling. From all of the people Vincent lets into his private world, Jo is the only one who has realized that he is on the verge of giving up. She is afraid that once he loses his passion for painting, he would also lose his desire to live.
When the young, charming and pure Marguerite Gachet (Alexandra London, Les destinées) approaches Vincent, his life temporarily brightens up. At first she annoys him with her naive questions, but then slowly earns his admiration and love. Even though she is a lot younger than him, the two often make love. Marguerite also models for Vincent until he begins struggling with depression.
Vincent's finals days are seen through the eyes of a number of people who interpret his behavior differently. For example, when he admits to Theo that he is considering suicide, his brother concludes that once again he isn't honest with himself. In one of the film's most dramatic sequences, Vincent and Theo also clash with incredible intensity, questioning their beliefs and the integrity of their art.
The only person who seems to understand Vincent is Marguerite. She loves him as he is, unpredictable, at times rude, frustratingly quiet, willing to give everything he has to those he loves but afraid to receive from those who love him. At one point she discovers him in a brothel but chooses not to confront him because she realizes that he is desperately trying to reignite his passion for life. They dance and laugh, and Vincent even pushes Marguerite in the hands of another woman, but after they leave the brothel it is clear that on the inside he is already dead.
Van Gogh, arguably Maurice Pialat's masterpiece, does not chronicle the life of the great Dutch painter; rather, it offers a glimpse of his final days, a period that has been interpreted differently by many who have studied his life and legacy.
In these final days, Van Gogh's mental condition isn't the focus of attention either. What the film follows closely is the effect his uneven deterioration has on his art – first the evolution and maturation of his style, and in particular the preference for exceptionally bold colors that emerges in Auvers-sur-Oise, and then his unique relationship with nature. Unsurprisingly, during substantial portions of the film Pialat's camera simply observes Van Gogh while he is alone with his thoughts.
Dutronc is excellent as the brittle painter. I specifically would like to mention the fact that none of Van Gogh's well documented struggles to maintain some balance in his life are overdramatized. The viewer can easily feel his frustration and later on pain, but the demons that torment his soul remain hidden. This gives the film that unique sense of intimacy as well as a degree of documentary authenticity that make so many of Pialat's films special.
Van Gogh Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
The basic characteristic of the high-definition transfer are identical to those of the high-definition transfer French label Gaumont used for their Blu-ray release of this award winning film in France - and this is certainly very good news. Generally speaking, close-ups convey very pleasing depth (see screencaptures #1 and 19). The outdoor sequences also boast very good clarity. As I mentioned in our review of the French release, arguably the most substantial improvements are in the area of color reproduction - saturation is dramatically improved and overall stability is much better (this becomes painfully obvious if one compares the Blu-ray release with the old R2 DVD release Artificial Eye produce some years ago). During some of the darker sequences occasionally there are light artifacts that sneak in, but they never become distracting. Light grain is visible throughout the entire film. There are no problematic sharpening adjustments. Lastly, overall image stability is excellent. To sum it all up, this is a lovely presentation of Van Gogh that is guaranteed to make fans of the film who have previously experienced it only on DVD very happy. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Van Gogh Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: French LPCM 1.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
Van Gogh does not have a prominent soundtrack. Unsurprisingly, overall dynamic intensity is limited. However, the dialog is always crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. Also, there is absolutely no background hiss. There are no pops, cracks, audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
Van Gogh Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Van Gogh Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is an outstanding release of Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh from British distributors Eureka Entertainment. It uses as a foundation Gaumont's recent restoration of the film and adds all of the supplemental features from the French release with optional English subtitles. Also included is a 56-page illustrated booklet. If you reside in a Region-B country and need English subtitles on everything, this is the release you want to add to your library. Fantastic! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Van Gogh Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh Officially Announced - August 19, 2013
Eureka Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of director Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh (1991), starring Jacques Dutronc, Alexandra London, and Bernard Le Coq. The release will be available for purchase online and in shops ...
Van Gogh Blu-ray Screenshots
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