A new way of seeing Vincent van Gogh

A Review by Brenda Daniels

Vincent van Gogh's famous 'The Starry Night' painting which is on display in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Creative Commons

Vincent van Gogh’s famous ‘The Starry Night’ painting. Photo: Creative Commons

This film forms part of a new series of Exhibition on Screen brought to the public by Cinema Nouveau.

In this production, viewers see many of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings on display at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Much more than a “filmed walk around a museum”, however, VINCENT VAN GOGH – A New Way of Seeing, includes interviews with several Van Gogh experts, clips of actual places Van Gogh lived and worked in, and a fairly extensive biography of his life. The latter was achieved using the more than 800 letters he wrote during his lifetime, many of which were addressed to his beloved brother, Theo.

Like his well-known contemporaries of the 1800s, such as writer Charles Dickens, Vincent Van Gogh is an accessible and appealing figure to the modern audience. I was intrigued by what this documentary-type film could offer and interested too in the subtitle “A New Way of Seeing”. The latter phrase can be seen in at least three ways in this film.

They include: An explanation of Van Gogh’s style (how he tried as a creator to see things through fresh eyes); an emphasis on the artist’s life and how it affected his work (as opposed to a mere explanation of his painting technique); and a moderated retelling of his life (one that neither emphasises nor ignores all the well-known bits such as his mental condition and suicide).

As an art novice I welcomed the biographical features of this film. As the closing quote of the film makes clear, however, I was also left with a more educated appreciation of how this artist tried to make an important difference to the world through his art.

VINCENT VAN GOGH – A New Way of Seeing releases on South African screens on Saturday, 18 April 2015, for four screenings only: on 18, 22 and 23 April at 7.30pm and on 19 April at 2.30pm – at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. The running time of this production is 90 minutes. Watch the trailer here:

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