Vincent and Theo

Overview

The relationship between the obsessive, brilliant painter Vincent Van Gogh and his more practical brother Theo is at the center of director Robert Altman's well-received biography, originally produced as a miniseries for European television. Now universally acknowledged as masterpieces, Vincent Van Gogh's works were ignored in his lifetime, despite the best efforts of Theo, a struggling gallery owner. When he fails to make a profit from his brother's work, Theo finds himself torn between art and commerce, a ...
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Overview

The relationship between the obsessive, brilliant painter Vincent Van Gogh and his more practical brother Theo is at the center of director Robert Altman's well-received biography, originally produced as a miniseries for European television. Now universally acknowledged as masterpieces, Vincent Van Gogh's works were ignored in his lifetime, despite the best efforts of Theo, a struggling gallery owner. When he fails to make a profit from his brother's work, Theo finds himself torn between art and commerce, a conflict deepened by Vincent's increasing emotional neediness. Soon, the situation worsens, and both brothers are forced to struggle with depression and madness. Altman's distinctive directorial approach avoids clichés, allowing his leads to create contradictory and sometimes unlikable characters. Tim Roth captures Vincent's devotion to his art, his difficult personality, and his descent into mental illness without resorting to histrionics, while Paul Rhys provides equally proficient work as the more repressed Theo. The cinematography by Jean Lepine illuminates the links between Altman's trademark wandering camera and Van Gogh's impressionistic painting style.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; "Film as Fine Art" featurette with Robert Altman and Stephen Altman
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Robert Altman's moody, grungy vision of the brothers van Gogh, made for British television, opens with televised footage of the historic, multi-million dollar auction of van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and proceeds to de-mythologize van Gogh, from his ear-slashing incident to his impudent relationship with Paul Gaugin (Vladimir Yordanoff). In the hands of Tim Roth, van Gogh's legendary eccentricities (paint-eating, epileptic twitches) are reduced to mere mannerisms, as natural to the character as his shuffling gait and distant gaze. Citing the director's stance as a Hollywood expatriate for most of the 1980s, some critics saw the film as a bitter Altman riff on art, commerce, and neglected genius. But Altman rarely resorts to self-pity or comeuppance: his Vincent is an insular, instinctive loner who manages to alienate anyone close to him, save for his dedicated brother Theo (Paul Rhys). Rhys' neurotic, ambitious art dealer gives the picture some footing, and he lends credence to the script's conceit that the siblings shared an almost telepathic relationship. Altman took some license with the film's painting scenes -- he plops van Gogh, canvas and all, in the middle of fields of sunflowers -- but the sequences have a buzzy, inebriated energy as shot by Jean Lepine. Vincent and Theo works well as a counterpoint to Vincente Minnelli's and Kirk Douglas' sprightly 1956 conception of the artist, Lust for Life.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/23/2005
  • UPC: 027616927538
  • Original Release: 1990
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:20:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tim Roth Vincent van Gogh
Paul Rhys Theodore van Gogh
Kitty Courbois
Jip Wijngaarden Sien Hoornik
Johanna ter Steege Jo Bonger
Jean-Pierre Cassel Dr. Paul Gachet
Vladimir Yordanoff Paul Gauguin
Anne Canovas Marie
Bernadette Giraud Marguerite Gachet
Adrian Brine Uncle Cent
Jean-François Perrier Dr. Paul Gachet
Vincent Vallier Rene Valadon
Hans Kesting Andries Bonger
Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director
Stephen Altman Production Designer
Ludi Boeken Producer
Scott Bushnell Costumes/Costume Designer
Francois Coispeau Editor
Dominique Douret Art Director
Jean Lepine Cinematographer
Julian Mitchell Screenwriter
Geraldine Peroni Editor
Jan Roelfs Art Director
Pierre Siore Set Decoration/Design
Ben Van Art Director
Gabriel Yared Score Composer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. From Poverty to Fame [8:53]
2. Early Inspiration [9:01]
3. "Walk Into the Painting" [6:55]
4. Confronting a Mentor [3:12]
5. Fiddling With Paints [6:31]
6. "I Don't Own the Gallery!" [3:19]
7. To Paris!/Falling in Love [12:47]
8. Nerves and Money Stress [7:00]
9. On the Road Again [4:52]
10. Witnessing Genius [4:18]
11. Gauguin Pays a Visit [11:21]
12. "Mr. Holy Spirit" [9:01]
13. Descent Into Madness [1:01]
14. The Loyal Brother [6:02]
15. Vincent's New Doctor [9:36]
16. Meeting His Benefactor [5:20]
17. Sanity & Insanity [4:35]
18. No Longer Able to Cope [9:07]
19. An Artist's Farewell [4:20]
20. An Eternal Bond/Credits [5:13]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      "Film as Fine Art"
      Theatrical Trailer
      Other Great MGM Releases
         MGM Means Great Movies
         MGM Academy Award Winners
         More Great MGM Releases
   Subtitles
      English
      Français
      Español
      None
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The craziness of Vincent

    This is one of my favorite movies about an artist who was so unique and so misunderstood. I stumbled upon it accidentally years ago and couldn't find it anywhere to purchase. I found it at barnesandnoble.com and I was elated, unlike Vincent. Tim Roth is truly amazing in his portrayal of Vincent.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Feels like half the movie is missing

    This is apparently an edit-down from a longer mini-series created for television, and that's what it feels like.

    Early in the film there is a huge fight between Theo and Vincent which concludes with Vincent railing: "God is everywhere... BUT IN THE CHURCH!!!" This important theme is never visited again, as the film focuses more and more on Vincent eating Theo alive, ending with their deaths. Theo of course died just months after Vincent's suicide.

    In the director's comments, Altman says that he wanted to portray Vincent as a user, noting that in every letter V berates Theo -- "You're not selling my paintings!" "Send money!" "Send paint!" And Vincent went through tremendous quantities of canvas and paint. Even despite times of strife and anger, Theo was steadfast in his support for his big brother. So in that sense, documenting this odd and tragic relationship is a brilliant thought.

    Altman does a very good job of sequencing the paintings with the various locations they were made and the life issues (The Hague/Sien, Arles/Gauguin, hospitalization, the birth of Theo's son, etc). In other words, you get the feeling that the script truly emerged from the content of their letters, where V frequently described the new works he was accomplishing.

    Vincent was a fairly traditional painter until moving to Paris in 1886 (age 33), where he hobnobbed with the vanguard of Impressionism, and likely witnessed the premier of Seurat's pointillism. Where in the past he had always been partial to thick, coarsely-smeared paint -- usually very dark and brooding -- in Paris he began painting bright colors, using finer dots and crosshatching. His purely Impressionist work from this period is interesting but nothing special given the time and place.

    Yet somewhere in early 87 he achieves a breakthrough -- most easily recognized in some of his electrifying self-portraits of that period -- where he creates stunning images using bold directional brushstrokes of bright colors, sometimes radiating out from the center. The paintings from these two years and his subsequent time in Arles are the foundation of his greatness as an artist.

    His work as an artist is never really explored, however, and none of the famous monologue about his work survives to the screen. In fact, I don't recall that the Paris period was noted in any way in the film, nor were any of his motivations as an artist -- often exploring the power of complementary colors and subject matter, trying to create a work made of multiple paintings.

    Instead, Vincent is just an emotionally unstable madman on his way to ruin, and Theo is a nervous wreck trying to find a balance between living his own life and being completely drained by his needy big brother.

    The acting is strong, and the film has palpable dramatic tension, but finally came across oddly hollow. Viewing it only once, I got the feeling that I was missing out on the heart and soul of the story, and my inclination was to watch it again, looking for more clues.

    But then I did something else.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews