HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Rembrandt All Is Vanity
Year: 1936
Director: Alexander Korda
Stars: Charles Laughton, Gertrude Lawrence, Elsa Lanchester, Edward Chapman, Walter Hudd, Roger Livesey, John Bryning, Herbert Lomas, Allan Jeayes, John Clements, Raymond Huntley, Abraham Sofaer, Laurence Hanray, Austin Trevor, Wilfrid Hyde-White
Genre: Historical, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dutch Rembrandt van Rijn (Charles Laughton) is now acclaimed as perhaps the greatest artist in oils of all time, but when he was alive that was not the case, as he was regarded as an unconventional figure who died virtually penniless for it took quite some time for his genius to be recognised – now no millionaire in the world would have as much money as all his paintings cost should they be sold. We join him in 1642 as he is reluctant to accept the duty of painting the Civic Guard, but since he wants to buy jewellery for his beloved wife Saskia he is forced to accept; however, she is a very sick woman and not even the powerful love her husband has for her will be enough to save her…

You could tell from that opening ten minutes this was not taking the usual biopic stance that you start before the subject is a success and the build up to that point, for director Alexander Korda chose a different tack, beginning when Rembrandt was at the height of his fame when living then winding down to the end of his life. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why this failed to catch on with the public in the same way Korda and Laughton’s previous collaboration The Private Life of Henry XIII did, it wasn’t just the title lacking in monarch-based sauciness, it was more to do with the perceived lack of oomph to the high culture you would be in for. No matter that this was no dry, textbook account when the star was unquestionably at his very best, it was simply a tough sell.

Even if you did give it a go, there were few of the laughs Laughton’s performance as King Henry provided, as a more melancholy tone was unavoidably present given the rather tragic life Rembrandt lived, what with the people he most loved having a habit of dying. You could see echoes of this in Mike Leigh’s more controversial biopic Mr. Turner, though that was more of a hit than this was in its day, that sense that a serious artist has to negotiate a hefty degree of heartache to truly be judged great, though Laughton’s painter seemed more of a friendlier prospect for socialising. Korda, one of the most influential figures in moulding the British film industry, knew what the star’s strengths were, and therefore made certain to include scenes of him relating speeches in his rich, characterful tones.

Often these were the best reasons to keep watching, as Laughton, reined in by the sombre qualities of his role, offered some moving readings and observations thanks to his marvellously delivered lines: he really did come across as a man with an artistic soul, far more than anyone around him. His relationship to women was important to that demeanour, though we never see Saskia, nor any of his paintings of her (perhaps because by 20th century standards she looked more like Laughton than the beauty she is talked up as by the script), but his adoration of her makes an impact in that introduction, all the way through to his romantic partnership to maid Hendrickje Stoffels (they never married). She was played by Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester, a woman he had a complicated connection to as they stayed together until he died, but for sexual satisfaction they each would pair off with men of their choosing.

Maybe someone should make a film of their marriage, they were very unconventional people. The other lady in Rembrandt’s life was Geertje Dirx, of interest because this was a rare film appearance by stage legend Gertrude Lawrence, here not too cheerful but forceful in her presence as her housekeeper role saw her bitter at devoting so much time to the artist for very little reward or even heed of her advice. As for the art, we only saw the unveiling of The Night Watch, possibly his most famous work, and the film underlined the poignancy that it is now accepted as a masterpiece yet was lambasted at the time by the public who didn’t understand it, not least because they didn’t understand the turmoil Rembrandt was going through after the death of his wife. So while pleasingly designed, this was not the most uplifting of films about art, though puts us in the privileged position of sympathising with a brilliant man not always regarded as such in his lifetime, but that was sad too. Music by Geoffrey Toye.

[Network's DVD captures much of the attractive, moody photography, and has a gallery as an extra - but not that kind of gallery.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1831 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: