Home Magazine At the 75th Venice Film Festival the "Eternity Gate" of Julian Schnabel

The 75th Venice International Film Festival is currently being held from 29 August to 8 September 2018. This year’s director of the Festival is Biella-born (Piedmont region) Alberto Barbera, who helmed the festival from 1998 to April 2002, and who is the longest-serving director in the event’s history. Meanwhile, the patron of this year’s festival is the Italian actor Michele Riondino, from Puglia in the south of the country. The international Jury of the 75th Venice Film Festival will be headed by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who won last year’s award for ‘The Shape of Water’ and two Golden Globes in 2018 for best director and best film.


As often happens at the Venice Film Festival, art has a front row seat and this year is the turn of the movie drama “At Eternity's Gatedirected by Julian Schnabel. The American director returns behind the camera with a film as ambitious as ever, a film resulting from a set of scenes inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. In the feature film, we find a clear, accurate account of the last few months of Van Gogh's life, augmented with theories, rumours and fantasy scenes. The whole film is anchored around the art of Van Gogh, highlighting its magical relationship with nature. Schnabel at the La Biennale emphasized:

This is not a biography of the painter realized with scientific precision. It is a film about the meaning of being an artist. It is fiction, and in the act of pursuing our goal, if we tend towards the divine light, we could even run into the truth. The only way to describe a work of art is to make a work of art.


Julian Schnabel and Willem Dafoe during the 75th Venice International Film Festival



The American director, who also wrote the screenplay with Jean-Claude Carrière and Louise Kugelberg, was able to count on a high-level cast: the protagonist is Willem Dafoe, but among others, there are also Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup. The photograph is taken care of by Benoît Delhomme, but in "At Eternity's Gate" the staging of Stéphane Cressend and the costumes by Karen Muller-Serreau steal the show. Speaking at a press conference at the Palazzo del Casinò, the American actor underlined:

Julian Schnabel taught me how to paint and paint, I changed my point of view, which was the key that really enabled me to understand Vincent Van Gogh".

Produced by Rahway Road Production (Jon Kilik) and Iconoclast Production, the film is Schnabel's sixth film as director, the last eight years after Miral.




Schnabel's version is not descriptive, but visual, the director uses the camera like a brush, initially disorienting the viewer, with an almost disturbing result, due to a hand-held camera and a blurred one that creates a sense of dizziness. But everything makes sense when we realise that the weird and hallucinogenic way that the film proceeds is actually the illustrated perspective of Van Gogh.  At this point we find ourselves in one of his paintings, and even more so become one with him. Dafoe is Van Gogh, the camera is his eyes, his identity, and the whole film is resolved through the equivalence of art and life. We can see the postman and the innkeeper and all the miserable souls he portrayed from his own point of view: Arles's little room, shoes, sunflowers, roots, flowers, in a triumph of yellow, which Kandinsky labelled as the colour of madness, but that for Vincent was the pigment on which to calibrate his entire existence. In a synaesthetic and not very linear narration, two macro phases can be identified: thanks to Paul Gauguin's proximity, Vincent first glimpses in painting a medium through which to connect with the true essence of nature. He discovers painting as a privilege that is given only to the artists, to put the world apart.

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