(aka 'Vincent et Théo ')

directed by Robert Altman
USA 1990

 

  Robert Altman, so erratic in recent years, brings an artist's eye and suffering spirit to his masterly portrait of "Vincent & Theo." This lovely if deliberate film marks Altman's return to a more straightforward, but by no means expected, style. A biography that plays like fiction, it tells the story of the van Gogh brothers, stroked and brushed and globbed onto the canvas of the screen. Altman gives us art as ordered chaos, and inspiration as a merciless muse.

Directing from Julian Mitchell's lucid and moving screenplay, Altman focuses on the symbiosis between the two brothers as well as the eternal struggle between the artist and the audience, which by nature is attracted to the status quo. It opens with an auction at Christie's, but the clamor of million-pound bids for "Sunflowers" gives way to the slovenly artist's studio. Set largely in Paris and Provence, this carefully researched look at mental illness and 19th-century mores is also a triumph for the two young British stage actors, Tim Roth and Paul Rhys, who play the artist and his art dealer brother.

Roth's Vincent is wired like a lamp cord with a short, alternately buzzing with energy and lying quiet with desperation. A man in some terrible pain, whether it is epilepsy or some more exotic disorder, he struggles with the savagery of his own senses. His hair a ruffled ocher, his teeth rotten and stained from sucking on his brushes, Vincent writhes like the cypresses of his ravishing canvases. Theo, the quiet syphilitic, twitches and quivers like a hamster nervous in a cage.

As seen by Altman and his director of photography, Jean Lepine, the crows become the visual brethren of the mourners at first Vincent's and then Theo's funeral. The sky disappears in a terrible blue glare and the grain shivers with the unseen menace of angry old agrarian gods. Vincent shoots himself, a sacrifice to his broken brain and the public taste of the times. And at Christie's the ultimate travesty, bidding on a ruined man's agony. Going, going, gone.

"Vincent & Theo" is more than art appreciation, it is a treasure in its own right, unframed and arcing in the projector's light.

 Excerpt from Rita Kempley's review at the Washington Post located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 8th, 1990 - Toronto Film Festival

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution MGM - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:20:10 
Video 1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.82:1

Edition Details:

• "Film as Art" featurette (24:06)
• Theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: August 23rd, 2005

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Chapters: 20

 

 

Comments:

I've been one of MGM's bigger detractors in the past few years when it came to their DVD production. It distinguished itself with decided indifference when it came to their image quality and usual absentee-ism when it came to extra features.

I am quite happy though that this excellent film has been given more digital effort in both areas. The image is both progressive and anamorphic. Skin tones look a little red for my liking and I suspect some manipulation but it is not excessive. The audio and subtitles are quite adequate, and the addition of the 20 minute featurette "Film as Art" is most welcome. This is a marvelous film folks and one that I am excited to say that "MGM did not botch it" for their DVD edition. Keep it up MGM! out of       

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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