Vincent van Gogh, who came from an upper-middle-class family, could have led a comfortable life. Depression struck him at an early age, and melancholy would mark his early works. Critics would agree that his best paintings featured the use of bright colors, which would suggest emotions. It was supposed to be positive feelings, but Van Gogh's tormented existence was well documented. Three directors tried to depict the life of this renowned Dutch painter.
Kirk Douglas, who portrayed the virile hero during the pinnacle of his career, would be most remembered for his depiction of Vincent van Gogh. John Wayne, often remembered for the tough cowboy roles, wasn't impressed at all.
“Christ, Kirk, how can you play a part like that? There's so goddamn few of us left. We got to play tough, strong characters. Not those weak queers!”
Vincent Minnelli's "Lust for Life" (1956) showed a sensitive, thoughtful artist. Nothing could be good enough, but Theo van Gogh was supportive of his endeavors. It was hard to tell if Vincent's life would have ended in shatters if not for Theo's presence or a symbiotic relationship existed between the siblings. Robert Altman's "Vincent and Theo" (1990) would suggest the latter. Maurice Pialat's "Van Gogh" (1991) seemed to show a depressed painter indulging in the darker aspects of life. Moviegoers would keep on second guessing, as the pleasant countryside could have prompted van Gogh to consider the use of bright colors (for his latter works). It was Douglas (and Minnelli) who could be credited with the definitive depiction of van Gogh.
Douglas could be compared to the Colossus of Rhodes, as he would stand mighty and proud in an industry where solidarity was nonexistent. In this regard, the actor might have found inspiration (for his roles). It was the same trait that the actor used to portray Vincent van Gogh. "Lust for Life", which ran for over two hours, would tell viewers that an artist like van Gogh could be understood. It might have been a different case with an accountant (or an academician for that matter). One (tragic) highlight of van Gogh's life concerned the loss of his ears. He cut it off, but it may be something else. What if there was an altercation between van Gogh and Paul Gauguin? The French post-Impressionist artist might have been responsible (for the loss of his ears), and van Gogh had always been a thoughtful friend. (It was well known that van Gogh tried to find inspiration from fellow painters, and Gauguin was one of them.) Theo could be the only one who knew the whole story, but many of their letters didn't survive during the turn of the 20th century.
Douglas turned 100 on December 9, and a bust of him and van Gogh could replace Mount Rushmore. His fans rather preferred “Spartacus”, where he stood up to slavery. The titular character died in a battlefield, but director Stanley Kubrick might be thinking of something. (And Douglas would like it.) But “Lust for Life” was an earnest picture. The actor would prized Vincent van Gogh above his other memorable roles.