At Eternity’s Gate
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At Eternity’s Gate

At Eternity’s Gate let’s agree that biopics about artists make up one of the most hackneyed territories in cinema, At Eternity’s Gate an area prone to academicism. The figure of Vincent Van Gogh has already been vampirized by numerous filmmakers, from The Madman with the Red Hair by Vincente Minelli (with an iconic Kirk Douglas) to Robert Altman’s Van Gogh (with a Tim Roth giving away a histrionics feast), to Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh, the least didactic approach to the figure of the emblematic Dutch painter. Now, the painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel offers, in At Eternity’s Gate, a new approach to the creator of Los girasoles, an approach that draws on his horizon the possibility of penetrating the painter’s mentality and imagination. Amid a gale of detailed shots and subjective shots, Schnabel’s film tries to capture the rapture that Van Gogh experienced in his encounter with nature and artistic creation.

In his intimate dialogue with the figure of Van Gogh, Schnabel tries to articulate an iron link between his handling of the camera and the pictorial method of the Dutch genius. In a risky scene, Schnabel decides to throw his camera on the face of Willem Dafoe (Van Gogh) lurching / stroking until the actor’s face occupies the entire panoramic frame of the screen. Scenes abound in which Van Gogh is intoxicated by the beauty of nature, his main source of inspiration.