CULTURE

Kirk Douglas, one of Vincent van Gogh’s best performers

On February 5, 2020, one of the great myths of cinema, the unparalleled Kirk Douglas, died at the age of 103; for all known for his brilliant performances in such outstanding films as “Spartacus”, “Paths of Glory” or “Duel of the Titans”, and for his characteristic dimple in the chin.

This Hollywood legend will be forever linked to the art world thanks to his stellar interpretation of Vincent van Gogh in the movie “Lust for Life”, directed by Vincente Minnelli.

His physical resemblance to the impressionist painter was remarkable. In fact, before accepting the role, he already showed cinematographic interest in the biography of the artist from his own producer. For this interpretation, he would be nominated for an Oscar as best lead actor, although he would not win it and would give it to Yul Brinner for “The King and I”. However, his cast partner Anthony Quinn, was awarded the Oscar for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Gauguin.

It is so well worth knowing that thanks to the work of producer John Houseman, exact replicas of van Gogh’s canvases appeared in the film. The original fabrics were photographed on large plates (8 x 10 inches) and then projected below special tables of the effects department, with the translucent board; in this way the specialized personnel could copy them, brushstroke by brushstroke, with great thoroughness and perfect results.

The exteriors were shot in the places where the painter was with his easel in Paris and Arles, even visiting the psychiatric hospital where one of his most illustrious patients, the great Vincent van Gogh, entered.

Rest in peace artist.

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