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Van Gogh - On the threshold of eternity

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | Discussion of April 17, 2019The wound painter is dripping

Julian Schnabel filmed Vincent van Gogh's Passion: "On the threshold of eternity"

Anyone looking for arguments against art house and art house cinemas will have to study this film with clenched teeth and many new creases in their brains. The well-known American art collector villa foyer refiner and film director Julian Schnabel filmed the life of the much more world-famous dreamer Vincent van Gogh. The hero wears the face of Willem Dafoe. Things get bad in "Van Gogh - On the Threshold of Eternity": The genius attacks a woman from the country in two languages, because geniuses have difficulty controlling themselves, the whole village is outraged by this slipped pastoral hour, and a teacher who has run up humiliates the visionary because she does not want to understand why nature is so gnarled as he is.

The most momentous encounters with women that the touching psychopath has to experience show the gender as uptight and incomprehensible - stupid enough, but on the other hand: If the roles had been reversed and Mr Schnabel had told an analogous streak about Frida Kahlo and "the men", the movie wouldn't be better either.

This film wants to be loved, which makes its failure almost tragic and its platitudes annoying: the Arles area in the sun, the Arles area in the rain, a narrow bar, an even tighter room, a desolate madhouse with water torture, everything is filmed flat with the most lazy image abbreviations. One experiences such a blatant complementary evil to the six hundredth "Transformers" - or "The Fast and the Furious" blockbuster, insofar as both types of simple operation form two sides of the coin "stimulus-reaction-hype-cinema". In addition to the roller coaster in 3D, the pretentious fortune teller with a foreign accent, who babbles about inspiration, is part of the fair, as the contemporary heirs of which the movie theaters are currently delivering a tough defensive battle against streaming.

The fact that this imago in Schnabel's form apparently serves its customers more individually than the mass spectacle goods does, does not mean that it has more to do with art than that, but only that there is also a commerce called arts and crafts, not just one named Overwhelming. Oscar Isaac is Paul Gauguin, Mads Mikkelsen is a priest who treats a little reserved pity: The dreary star parade could not have been calculated more heartlessly by a computer program.

There is always obsessive melancholy terror instead of a concept of the past, although the aim is supposedly to rediscover lost mindfulness: Timeless hands are fiddling with a postcard motif jacket, and just look, there are already the shoes from the exhibition poster! Piano, piano, stroll, walk, then Van Gogh throws himself on the floor and sullies himself with dirt. In addition, he suffers with wide eyes from the fear of being the only one who sees eternity when he stares at the landscape. Jesus Christ personally is quoted as saying that one should turn away from the visible and towards the invisible. Nice, but why not an audio book instead of a cinema? Flowers. Dusk. Leaps in time. In the end, the Man of Sorrows lies between his works as a noble carcass, and some editing intern contributes the horrific idea: Master Schnabel, let's make the projection screen yellow for a moment and let Gauguin rave about how crazy yellow the yellow is with Van Gogh.

Worst of all wriggle the sequences that are supposed to illustrate the madness of the gifted: Stubborn montage rams several takes into one another so that even the sleepiest understand that van Gogh's consciousness is quantized in blobs that like to smear on top of one another and flow into one another. The hopeless bum seems all the more depressing when Julian Schnabel has convincingly demonstrated with the relaxed, original film "Butterfly and Diving Bell" (2007) that he can achieve something captivating and stimulating in the picture-counting design of extraordinary states of consciousness, body and mind. The man with locked-in syndrome, played by Mathieu Amalric, in whom almost everything is paralyzed except imagination and memory, functions in the internal and external perspective as a strong filter for almost everything that art can find out about people; "Van Gogh - On the Threshold of Eternity", on the other hand, just sucks a bucket full of lard from a half-formed rubbish heap full of rumors about the so-called high culture, which is supposed to symbolize Impressionism as a kind of cozy defiance against the hardness and speed of modern world awareness, and pours this harmless Stuff then unfiltered and unsorted into the receptive collective nervous system of committees that want to decide whether a film is more "particularly valuable" or entertaining.

The hard lesson of the ugly experience is probably: European cinema is always worst when Americans make it (but also the other way around, here's looking at you, Til Schweiger). Not even the color values ​​that Schnabel brings up reconcile with the unfavorable overall impression, because their pseudo-interiority lasts for two scenes at most, until one recognizes: Navy blue is sky blue today and tomorrow blue and the day after tomorrow again - every nuance drowns in the monotony of the constant Signals "ominous splendor with fits of eclipse".

If Schnabel had had more courage than an intermediary, cheap and urgent quick painting tutorial demanded, one could watch a film from him with joy and gratitude that would do nothing but two hours circling around a pomegranate on a badly mopped kitchen table lies. The morose Weihepopanz, however, which his deliberately imprecise attitudes in the Van Gogh drama constantly create, is ultimately, apart from all questions of narrative economics, simply ugly.

When Schnabel had his colleague Jean Michel-Basquiat resurrected in a feature film in 1996, the partly loving, partly macabre mask was at least occasionally mixed with a bit of joke, in the form of the fussy and strange David Bowie in particular, who played an Andy Warhol in it Andy Warhol would certainly have liked better than Andy Warhol himself.

The "diving bell" film also has a kind of humor, for example thanks to Max von Sydow, who grumbles around gruffly while being shaved. Perhaps Mikkelsen was intended to produce a similar counterpoint to the tear melody of the rest of the Van Gogh thing, but he, too, does not stand up to sayings like the one that Dafoe (who, by the way, does his bad thing very well) act out, that suffering is greater than laughter As if Schnabel had never heard of the fact that only the ridiculous always rail against laughter. Well: Perhaps, in terms of art history, it was necessary for a film to summarize all the sentimental aesthetic misconceptions of the modern era in just under two agonizing hours. Nothing bad happens to the pictures that van Gogh left behind; they remain unaffected by all encroachments of incidental lack of distance.


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