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Lust For Life (1956)

The tormented life of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, from his days in the coal mining region of Belgium to his suicide at Auvers-Sur-Oise, is the subject of this splendid film by Vincente Minnelli.

Before shooting even started the director had several battles with the MGM front office. He won his fight to shoot in actual European locations, and to substitute Ansco colour for Eastman colour, which would better capture the paintings, but he had to accept CinemaScope – a shape unsuitable to fully represent Van Gogh’s work on the screen.

The physical likeness of Kirk Douglas to Van Gogh is hallucinatory, and his performance is full of passionate intensity, as is that of Anthony Quinn as fellow-artist Paul Gauguin (he won an Academy Award for the role).

It’s not a happy film by any measure, but the evidence of Van Gogh’s correspondence suggests that the man himself was far from content with life.

Vincent Van Gogh
Kirk Douglas
Paul Gauguin
Anthony Quinn

Vincente Minnelli