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Sunflowers Documentary Review

★★★★

Directed by: David Bickerstaff

Starring: Jamie De Courcey, Louis Van Tilborgh, Martin Bailey

 

Anyone familiar with Vincent van Gogh knows how breathtaking his paintings are and how tragic his life was. While he was alive, his work didn’t fetch him commercial success. He suffered from depression and cared less for his physical health. To mend himself mentally, he took up painting and loaded his canvas with brightness and optimism. But we know his life only descended into madness. After his friendship with Gauguin terminated, he dissevered his ears and was committed to psychiatric hospitals. On 29 July 1890, Van Gogh died from the wounds he inflicted upon his body by means of suicide.


With Sunflowers, director David Bickerstaff imparts valuable insights into the art and the artist. He takes us on tour inside the National Gallery of London, the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, the Sompo Museum of Art in Tokyo, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. We go to these places to marvel at the paintings of sunflowers. These are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and we come to know a great deal about its history and why he chose to depict these flowers.


Van Gogh was experimenting with colors when he was putting sunflowers on his canvas. He had made various versions of sunflowers against distinct backgrounds. One of them went to an unknown American collector while another, obtained by a Japanese collector, got destroyed in a U.S. air raid.


When the camera reaches close to the sunflowers, you witness fine details and the beauty in them. No wonder Van Gogh was inspired by them. The sunflowers get so near to the screen that you reckon you could touch them with your fingers. As an expert informs us about its texture and structure, you unmistakably identify every part he says and admire the flower’s splendor. In the process, a popular myth is busted: Sunflowers do not follow the movement of the sun.


Fans and those who are interested in art would surely have a good time with Sunflowers. But I think the general audience too should give it a try. The documentary does not merely celebrate the achievements of an influential personality. But also raises curtains to show how he worked and how his work is now preserved by these museums. It’s worth walking into this virtual exhibition, and I am sure you won’t come out disappointed.


In UK Cinemas on Tuesday 8th June


 



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