I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview screening of Van Gogh: Brush With Genius at the Omni-Theatre last night. This 45 minutes film was a delight to watch, and seeing the thick strokes of his brush and the intense blue eyes staring out from his self-portrait, amplified by the five-story screen, was quite moving. I felt myself being transported back in time and space to France and The Netherlands, falling in love with the beautiful scenes that were such an inspiration to the painter.
The film is narrated by Van Gogh himself (or rather an actor's voice), and he guides us through the nine years that he painted some 900 paintings. He introduces us to the director of the film, Peter Knapp, as he films in different locations, as well as the researcher at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam who pours over the letters he wrote to brother Theo.
The film is beautifully shot and makes great use of the different locations that Van Gogh lived and found inspiration. We see the countryside that Van Gogh loved; the cornfields, the olive groves and farms in rural France, and how they are transformed into the wonderful paintings. He was almost always alone, painting at a frenetic pace, right up to the time that he felt he could not go on any longer and shot himself.
I found the letters to Theo most interesting as they give a wonderful insight into Van Gogh's passion, a passion that manifested itself in his paintings. He lived to paint, and he kept Theo up to date with the progress of his work, writing almost daily. Sometimes the letters were written on the back of simple sketches which would often become details in paintings, and sometimes become the main subject. He would discuss the intensity of the light at Arles, the quality of his brushstrokes that left no smooth surface on the canvas, the search for the high yellow notes or the intensity of the night sky.
In the last two months of his life Van Gogh painted some 80 paintings; sometimes three paintings a day. He was driven by genius, and perhaps he drove himself to such a complete state of exhaustion that he could not go on. He shot himself in a field of wheat at the age of 37. Sadly, his loyal and beloved brother Theo died six months later.
For showtimes of Van Gogh:Brush With Genius please go to the Omni-Theatre website
21 Jurong Town Hall Road,
Infoline: (65) 6425 2500
Open 10am to 8pm
Closed on Mon except school and public holidays