Een Huis Voor Vincent Van Gogh – **

Posted: July 31, 2013 in 2013, biopic, Drama, Netherlands, TV series, XX

New at my library: a Dutch tv series about the life of Vincent van Gogh! I happen to leave on a tour to Arles/St Remy again, so any easy entertainment to refresh my knowledge of the Dutch painter was welcome.

At first a bit confusing, but throughout the series well done is the constant flashbacks between the life of Vincent Van Gogh from the 1870s onwards and the life of his nephew Willem Van Gogh in the 1950s. The latter wants to get rid of a series of paintings and drawings of his uncle and looks for a suitable buyer, while his granddaughter is making an essay about her great-uncle.

The nephew is played by Jeroen Krabbé, one of the most internationally known Dutch actors. Both he and Betty Schuurman (who plays his wife) are excellent. Their story actually breaks the otherwise very conventional and chronologically detailed life of the mad guy who cut of his ear. Barry Atsma plays the famous artist and does a good job too, but often fails to make you believe he IS the artist. He’s also way too pretty to play Van Gogh. Just look at the guy’s self portraits. Handsome he wasn’t.

Van Gogh is a fascinating character. I personally don’t like his work at all. But the fact that he was so productive and so sure of himself that one day people would appreciate his art, makes him a great subject for any biopic. Sure he was a bit mad, but he was just searching for happiness and meaning in life. Ultimately he just wanted to be appreciated and loved. And only one person did: his brother Theo.

Too bad then that this series is so… superficial. It’s too factual. It’s not like the makers shone away from difficult material (prostitution, alcohol abuse, schizophrenia, paranoia), but they just didn’t do anything interesting with it. What they did do was look for great settings. You can see there wasn’t enough money for real set designs that remind you of the late 19th Century, but with the little money they had they created a very picturesque atmosphere.

The dvd box comes with a little book about VG, a set of post cards and a travel documentary that shows you the places Van Gogh lived in (and there are many).

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