Starring: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Bio-drama directed and co-written by Julian Schnabel, following Vincent Van Gogh’s (Willem Dafoe) time in Arles and his final days. This is a journey inside the world and mind of a person who, despite skepticism, ridicule and illness, created some of the world’s most beloved and stunning works of art.
Our Favorite Quotes:'I feel God is nature and nature is beauty.' - Vincent van Gogh (At Eternity's Gate) Click To Tweet 'I find joy in sorrow. And sorrow is greater than laughter. You know, an angel is not far from those who are sad, and illness can sometimes heal us.' - Vincent van Gogh (At Eternity's Gate) Click To Tweet 'Sometimes they say I'm mad, but a grain of madness is the best of art.' - Vincent van Gogh (At Eternity's Gate) Click To Tweet
Best Quotes (Total Quotes: 31)
Paul Gauguin: I’m Paul Gauguin, by the way.
Vincent van Gogh: I know.
Paul Gauguin: You’re Vincent.
Vincent van Gogh: Yes.
Paul Gauguin: Theo’s brother.
[they shake hands]
Paul Gauguin: I saw your paintings at the cafeteria.
Vincent van Gogh: You did?
Paul Gauguin: Yes.
Vincent van Gogh: You must’ve been the only one. But if you did, it was worth it.
Paul Gauguin: Those people, you don’t want them to be your family. Who needs a family like that? You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.
Vincent van Gogh: I love my brother.
Paul Gauguin: Then you’re lucky. But more importantly, he loves you. I know he’s very good to you. I want to get as far away from these people as possible.
Vincent van Gogh: I hate the fog. I’m tired of this gray light. I’d like to find a new light, for paintings that we haven’t yet seen. Bright paintings, painted in sunlight.
Gaby: Why do you paint this?
Vincent van Gogh: What?
Gaby: These flowers. Why do you paint them?
Vincent van Gogh: Don’t you find them beautiful?
Gaby: Well, they are beautiful flowers, no doubt. More beautiful than what you paint.
Vincent van Gogh: You think so?
Gaby: Oh, yes.
Vincent van Gogh: Maybe you’re right. But these flowers will wither and fade. All flowers do.
Gaby: I know, everybody knows that.
Vincent van Gogh: But mine will resist.
Gaby: Are you sure?
Vincent van Gogh: At least they’ll have a chance.
Paul Gauguin: Of all the miseries that afflict humanity, nothing maddens me more than the lack of money.
Paul Gauguin: Listen, Vincent, the time is coming when painters won’t need anymore to look at models and sit down in front of nature. You know why? Because nature is what we see here in our heads. Nothing else. Without our eyes, there’s no nature. And none of us sees the world around us the same way. We sit, you and I, in front of the same landscape, we don’t see the same mountains, the same trees.
Vincent van Gogh: Well, that’s what I’m saying. The trees that I paint are mine.
Paul Gauguin: Even the faces you paint are yours. And they’ll stay because of you. People will be known because you painted them, and how you painted them, not because of who they are.
Vincent van Gogh: That’s good.
Paul Gauguin: And people will go to museums to see paintings of people, not to see people who were painted.
Vincent van Gogh: You know, people don’t always like the way they look in my paintings.
Paul Gauguin: We have to start a revolution. Do you understand? Yes, we do. Us, our generation. We have to change entirely the relation between painting and what you call nature. Between painting and reality, because painted reality is its own reality.
Vincent van Gogh: You’re right about that.
Paul Gauguin: Seurat confounds painting with science. He’s lost himself in optical experiments. There’s nothing more to expect from Renoir, Degas, Monet, they repeat themselves. They’ve given everything they could give.
Vincent van Gogh: You don’t mean that. You like Degas. You have to say thank you for the paintings you like. Monet’s pretty good.
Paul Gauguin: It’s our turn. We have a huge responsibility.
Vincent van Gogh: I still think Monet’s pretty good.
Vincent van Gogh: The painters I like all paint fast in one clear gesture, each stroke. You’ve heard of “a stroke of genius”? Well, that’s what it means.
Paul Gauguin: You don’t even paint that way. You paint fast and you overpaint. Your surface looks like it’s made out of clay. It’s more like sculpture than painting.
Paul Gauguin: I’m telling you, you have to look inside.
Vincent van Gogh: You keep saying “look inside”. I get it, I do. You keep repeating yourself. What do you think I’m doing? I don’t invent the picture. I don’t need to invent the picture. I find it already in nature. I just have to free it.
Paul Gauguin: Alright, I’m just saying, first think about your surface and how the paint will sit on it. Get control over what you’re doing. Maybe you should work inside more.
Vincent van Gogh: I’ve spent all my life alone, in a room. I need to go out and work to forget myself. I want to be out of control. I need to be in a feverish state. It’s called the act of painting for a reason.
Paul Gauguin: Alright, calm down.
Vincent van Gogh: I don’t want to calm down. The faster I paint, the better I feel.
[after Paul’s told Vincent he’s leaving]
Paul Gauguin: Why are you crying?
Vincent van Gogh: What did I do? Where did I go wrong?
Paul Gauguin: Nothing. You have nothing to do with this decision. Vincent, we can’t live side by side. Our temperaments are incompatible, you must admit that. And you have to understand, my reputation is established now. I can’t live in a country town anymore. I have to be around people, for now. Besides, I don’t like it here. You’re surrounded by stupid, wicked, ignorant people. Come on, why are you being so dramatic?
[Paul then turns and starts walking away]
Vincent van Gogh: Please don’t go. It’s great having you here.
Doctor Felix Ray: This is a small town, Vincent. Everybody’s watching what you’re doing, even more in a small town. You’re a stranger here. You drink too much. Much too much. Then you get hysterical, and out of control, and, yes, one night you cut off one of your ears. Can you tell me why?
Vincent van Gogh: My friend was about to leave me. He was about to leave.
Doctor Felix Ray: And cutting one of your ears was a way to keep him next to you? That doesn’t make sense. Was it a kind of gift, or a sacrifice, or what? What were you trying to achieve?
Vincent van Gogh: I don’t know.
Vincent van Gogh: There’s something inside me. I don’t know what it is. What I see, nobody else sees and sometimes it frightens me. I think I’m losing my mind. But then I say to myself, “I’ll show what I see to my human brothers who can’t see it.” It’s a privilege. I can give them hope and consolation.
Doctor Felix Ray: You’re confusing people. You’re confusing yourself with your paintings.
Vincent van Gogh: I am my paintings.
Doctor Felix Ray: What do you mean by consolation and hope? You might be asking too much of people.
Vincent van Gogh: I’d like to share my vision with people who can’t see what I see the way I see.
Doctor Felix Ray: Yes, but why?
Vincent van Gogh: Because my vision is closer to the reality of the world. I can make people feel what it’s like to be alive.
Doctor Felix Ray: Do you feel like they don’t feel alive?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, I do.
Doctor Felix Ray: And you think you can make them feel that through painting?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Yes.
[referring to the piece of paper]
Doctor Felix Ray: Gaby said your ear was wrapped in this, and she was supposed to give it to Paul. “Remember me,” what did you mean by that? Maybe you were trying to show him what he meant to you through that act, but that was something you couldn’t see.
Vincent van Gogh: I didn’t want him to leave. It was a way to get him back. Jesus said, “If thy hand offend thee, cut it off.”
Doctor Felix Ray: So you cut off your ear because you couldn’t bear to hear what Paul was saying?
Vincent van Gogh: I believe I have a menacing spirit around me. An invisible being. I feel it, I don’t see it. He speaks to me and threatens me. And all he wants to do is plunge a knife into my heart. I saw him and I tried to cut him out of myself.
Doctor Felix Ray: So that’s the reason why you cut off your ear. Your vision of the world, as you say, is quite frightening, isn’t it?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes. I’m terrified he’ll come back.
Doctor Felix Ray: I see.
Vincent van Gogh: Without painting, I can’t live.
Doctor Felix Ray: I believe you.
Albert Aurier: [voice over] Beneath skies that sometimes dazzle like faceted sapphires or turquoises, beneath the incessant and formidable streaming of every conceivable effect of light. In heavy, flaming, burning atmospheres, there is the disquieting and disturbing display of strange nature that is at once entirely realistic, and yet almost supernatural. Often excessive nature where everything, beings and things, shadows and lights, forms and colors, rears and rises up with a raging will to howl its own essential song in the most intense and fiercely high-pitched timbre. It is matter and all of nature, frenetically contorted. It is form becoming nightmare, color becoming flames, light turning into conflagration, life into burning fever. Such is the impression left upon the retina when it first views the strange, intense and feverish work of Vincent van Gogh. How far are we, are we not, from the beautiful, great tradition of art? Never has there been a painter whose art appeals so directly to the senses, from the indefinable aroma of his sincerity to flesh and the matter of his paint. This robust and true artist, Vincent van Gogh, towers above the rest.
Madman: You are the painter?
Vincent van Gogh: Uh, yes.
Madman: Are all the painters crazy?
Vincent van Gogh: Maybe just the good ones. I really don’t know.
Madman: What do you paint?
[Vincent is reading Paul’s letter]
Paul Gauguin: [voice over] My dear Vincent, I’ve looked most attentively at your works since we parted. First at your brother’s place, and then at Independence Exhibition. It’s above all at this latter place that one can properly judge what you do. Either because of things positioned beside each other, or because of neighboring works. I offer you my sincere compliments. And for many artists, you are the most remarkable in the exhibition. With things from nature, you’re the only one there who thinks. I’ve talked about it with your brother, and there’s one that I would like to exchange with you for one thing of your choice. I hesitated greatly to write to you, knowing that you had just had a rather long crisis. So, please don’t reply to me until you feel completely strong. Let’s hope that, with the warm weather that will return, you’re going to get well at last.
[reading out loud]
Vincent van Gogh: “The winter is always dangerous to you. Cordially, ever yours, Paul Gauguin.”
Priest: Do you feel angry sometimes?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes.
Priest: And what do you do then?
Vincent van Gogh: I go out, look at a blade of grass, or a branch of a fig tree, in order to calm down.
Priest: And it works?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes. I feel God is nature and nature is beauty.
Priest: I’ve seen you in the garden, painting. And I’ve heard from others that you say you’re a painter.
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, that’s what I am.
Priest: Why do you say that? Do you have a gift for painting?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes.
Priest: Where does this gift come from? Would you say that God gave you the gift of painting?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, He did. It’s the only gift He gave me.
[he holds up one of Vincent’s paintings]
Priest: Did you paint this?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, I did.
Priest: And you call it a painting?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, of course.
Priest: Tell me frankly, because I’d like to understand. Why do you say you’re a painter?
Vincent van Gogh: Because I paint. I love painting. I have to paint. I’ve always been a painter. That, I know.
Priest: A born painter?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes.
Priest: How do you know?
Vincent van Gogh: Because I can’t do anything else. And believe me, I’ve tried.
[referring to Vincent’s painting]
Priest: So, God gave you a gift so you could paint this?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes.
Priest: But don’t you see, uh, now look, carefully. Please. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but don’t you see that this painting is, how can I say, unpleasant? It’s ugly.
Vincent van Gogh: Why would God give me a gift to paint ugly and disturbing things? Sometimes I feel so far away from everything.
Priest: Does anybody buy your paintings?
Vincent van Gogh: No.
Priest: So, you’re poor?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, rather poor.
Priest: How do you live?
Vincent van Gogh: Well, my brother, Theo, pays for me to be here. But he’s not a rich man either.
Priest: So, you believe that God gave you this gift because He wants to keep you in misery?
Vincent van Gogh: Huh. I never thought about it that way.
Priest: And which way do you think?
Vincent van Gogh: Sometimes I think…
Vincent van Gogh: Well, maybe, maybe…
Priest: Go on.
Vincent van Gogh: Maybe He chose the wrong time.
Priest: What do you mean the wrong time?
Vincent van Gogh: Maybe God made me a painter for people who aren’t born yet.
Vincent van Gogh: It is said, “Life is for sowing. The harvest is not here.” I paint with my qualities and faults.
Priest: So, you think God could’ve been mistaken?
Vincent van Gogh: I think of myself as an exile, a pilgrim on this earth. Jesus said, “Turn your heart away from things visible and turn yourself to things invisible.”
Priest: Indeed. But…
Vincent van Gogh: And Jesus also was totally unknown when He was alive.
Priest: How do you know that?
Vincent van Gogh: My father was a pastor. I’ve been around religion all my life.
Priest: Really? A pastor?
Vincent van Gogh: Yes, and before I realized I was a painter, I tried myself to be a man of God, so I learned quite a bit about the topic.
Priest: So you know the Gospels?
Vincent van Gogh: Not only the Gospels, I can tell you that Jesus wasn’t discovered until thirty or forty years after he died. When he was alive, nobody talked about him. There’s not even a letter from a Roman centurion to his wife in Rome saying that a man named Jeshua was crucified in Jerusalem with some other criminals. Not a word, nothing.
Vincent van Gogh: I’m beyond caring what anyone thinks, but I care what you think, Theo. Tell me, I want to know the truth. Am I a good painter?
Theo van Gogh: You’re not a good painter, Vincent. You’re a great painter.
Vincent van Gogh: Are you sure?
Theo van Gogh: Of course, I’m sure. Why would I lie to you?
Vincent van Gogh: I mean, you’re my brother. You’re my brother. Just to please me.
Theo van Gogh: I wouldn’t do that.
Johanna van Gogh: No, Theo would never do that.
Vincent van Gogh: People say that I don’t know how to draw, how to paint. They say my paintings are clumsy, ugly. I used to care what people thought, but not anymore. I have no choice. If I couldn’t paint, I would murder someone.
Theo van Gogh: That’s why I send you money for your paintings, because I really believe you are a great painter. And I’m a businessman. I’m a business man, after all. So, you paint, and leave the rest to us. You paint and let us do the rest.
Doctor Paul Gachet: Why do you paint?
Vincent van Gogh: I paint, as a matter of fact, to stop thinking.
Doctor Paul Gachet: A sort of meditation.
Vincent van Gogh: When I paint, I stop thinking.
Doctor Paul Gachet: About what?
Vincent van Gogh: I stop thinking, and I feel that I’m a part of everything outside and inside of me. I wanted so much to share what I see. An artist…
Doctor Paul Gachet: Yes?
Vincent van Gogh: I thought an artist had to teach how to look at the world. But I don’t think that anymore. Now I just think about my relationship to eternity.
Doctor Paul Gachet: What do you call eternity?
Vincent van Gogh: Time to come.
Doctor Paul Gachet: Maybe what you are saying is that your gift to the world is painting.
Vincent van Gogh: If not, what good is an artist?
Doctor Paul Gachet: You’re happy when you’re painting?
Vincent van Gogh: Most of the time, except when I fail.
Doctor Paul Gachet: You look sad sometimes.
Vincent van Gogh: There’s a lot of destruction and failure at the door of a successful picture. I find joy in sorrow. And sorrow is greater than laughter. You know, an angel is not far from those who are sad, and illness can sometimes heal us. It’s the normal state that gives birth to painting.
Doctor Paul Gachet: You feel that way?
Vincent van Gogh: Sometimes I hate the idea of regaining my health.
Doctor Paul Gachet: In that case, you don’t need a doctor.
Vincent van Gogh: Sometimes they say I’m mad, but a grain of madness is the best of art.
Doctor Paul Gachet: You’re not a mad man.
Vincent van Gogh: It’s good to have a doctor as a friend.
[after Vincent has been shot in the stomach]
Doctor Paul Gachet: What happened? What did you do? You have a bullet hole in your stomach.
Vincent van Gogh: I don’t know.
Doctor Paul Gachet: Did you shoot yourself?
Vincent van Gogh: Maybe. I don’t remember. Don’t blame anyone. Don’t blame anyone.
Doctor Paul Gachet: Do you have a gun?
Vincent van Gogh: No. Never.
Doctor Paul Gachet: So how did you do that?
Vincent van Gogh: I don’t know. Tell…
Doctor Paul Gachet: Yes?
Vincent van Gogh: Tell my brother to come.
Doctor Paul Gachet: Oh, I did. He’ll be here soon.
[a little later Theo arrives to find Vincent has died]
Vincent van Gogh: [voice over] Oh, God, will you receive your son?
[mid-credit lines; in French]
Paul Gauguin: [voice over] In my yellow room, sunflowers with purple eyes stand out on a yellow background. They bathe their stems in a yellow pot on a yellow table. In the corner of the painting, the signature of the painter: Vincent. And the yellow sun that passes through the yellow curtains of my room, floods all this fluoresence with gold. And in the morning upon awakening, from my bed, I imagine that all this smells very good. Oh, yes! He loved yellow, this good Vincent, this painter from Holland. Those glimmers of sunlight rekindled his soul, that abhorred the fog, that needed the warmth. When the two of us were together in Arles, both of us mad, and at constant war over the beauty of color, me, I loved the color red, where to find a perfect vermilion? He traced with his most yellow brush on the wall, suddenly turned violet. I am the Holy Spirit. I am sound of spirit. Paul Gauguin, 1894.
Total Quotes: 31
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