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THE MOON AND SIXPENCE

Director:

88 minutes| U.S.A.| 1942| Black and White| 35mm


Lewin’s first film as director is a faithful yet imaginative adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s 1919 novel inspired by the life of the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin. In Lewin’s film, a writer (Herbert Marshall) recounts the life of his friend Charles Strickland (George Sanders), a respectable London stockbroker who rejects his comfortable life to become a penniless and unappreciated painter in Paris and Tahiti.

The film clearly announces Lewin’s preoccupation with the incompatibility of the artistic impulse and bourgeois mores, a theme that will feature in almost all his subsequent work. Sanders plays Strickland as a heartless louse, but a brilliant artist, who uses and abuses everyone around him in his obsessive quest for artistic perfection. It may not be too fanciful to see Strickland’s change of life as a parallel to Lewin’s career shift from studio executive to the director of a string of boldly eccentric films.

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