Van Gogh

Director: Maurice Pialat


Somewhat undervalued in the English-speaking world, the late Maurice Pialat was one of the most important and influential figures of post-New Wave French cinema. A notoriously confrontational and demanding director, Pialat aimed to capture raw reality and emotions and communicate them directly to his audience. As David Thompson noted: ‘While in life and work Pialat could be unbearably aggressive and exacting, his attitude towards his characters in his films was generous and non-judgemental. His full-frontal cinema is as modern today as when it was conceived, his view of human relations untainted by political correctness or fashionable gestures.’
As a tribute to Pialat, who himself started out with ambitions to become a painter, we’re happy to show a new print of his superb 1991 film about the last days of Vincent Van Gogh. When Van Gogh (a superb Jacques Dutronc) arrives in Auvers-sur-Oise to be treated by Dr. Gachet, he has two months to live. Pialat has invented a love story about the painter and Gachet’s daughter, wrapped in light and shadow, with shadow having the final word. This is not a conventional biographical study, but an extraordinary portrait of the artist as common man. Van Gogh is a film about beauty and happiness as much as it is about impending death. The painterly visuals never resort to cliche, and curiously they are more evocative of Pierre-Auguste Renoir than Van Gogh.

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