Review: At Eternity’s Gate

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At Eternity’s Gate is a 2018 movie about painter Vincent van Gogh in the last years of his life, as he spirals into creative madness. The film stars William Dafoe and Oscar Isaac, with a cameo by Mads Mikkelson, and was directed by Julian Schnabel. 

Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of van Gogh wasn’t the only thing that was refreshing, but so was the cinematography itself. Throughout the film, the lens follows the perspective of van Gogh. The close-up shots of people speaking to him almost seem as if the characters are speaking to you. The camera would then switch to van Gogh’s reactions, revealing a perspective that not many understood and related to. 

In the late 1800s, van Gogh’s art was seen as too different, and many, as well as the most distinguished artists during that time. Even famous painter, mentor, and friend of van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, found it to be rushed work. Due to Willem Dafoe’s amazing portrayal of such a complex artist and the movie’s experimental shots, one could understand how van Gogh brought creative and rather different paintings to life. 

I remember watching the trailer back in 2018, but I never really thought about it until I saw it streaming on Netflix. I definitely recommend watching the movie in-between your study sessions if you have the time. The way the movie shows Vincent van Gogh in his creative process may or may not spark such a process within you too.