Lust for Life

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Vincent van Gogh (Kirk Douglas) is at a crossroads in his life, as he has been finished divinity school, but not able to become a minister, so he need a new path. In order to please his father, he takes a position at a coal mine and hopes he can help people there. But at the mine he was shocked by the poor work conditions, not to mention that no one seemed to care about these workers. He then realized that the cloth was not his true calling, so looked elsewhere for satisfaction. Against the wishes of his father, Vincent began to express himself through art and soon became consumed with his work. His mind would flood with visions even as he slept, visions he would put onto canvas with genius strokes. But as his art began to take more and more control of his life, what extremes would he go to in order to express himself?

I don’t usually take much interest in biopics, due to how often the real life stories are altered for dramatic purposes and loaded down with melodrama. I understand the need to add drama, but some filmmakers go over the line and focus more on melodrama than the real life events. Lust for Life is indeed melodramatic, as I figured it would be, but not enough to water down the story involved. This could be due to Kirk Douglas, who turns in an incredible performance that distracts us from the lesser elements. He is superb here and brings a lot of emotion, but never goes over in the top in his effort. I don’t know a lot about the real life events, but what I am aware of was decently represented within the picture. I am sure some elements were altered, but you have to expect that. I am left to recommend Lust for Life, even if only for Douglas’ top notch performance, but I think a rental is enough for most people.

Video: How does it look?

Lust for Life is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I found this to be a very good visual effort, one that some work must been done on, in order to produce this clean image. I don’t think a full restoration was done, but the print looks terrific and shows minimal debris. You will see grain throughout, but not to the extent that the visuals are softened, so no worries there. The colors look a tad restrained, but contrast is spot on and never wavers in the least. So while a few minor missteps can be found, this is a more than solid transfer and Warner has put a little extra effort in.

Audio: How does it sound?

I didn’t expect much from this soundtrack, but I was pleased to hear a lot of presence here. Even in more reserved scenes, the speakers have movement and directional presence, as voices follow movement on screen and that enhances the experience. This is not a movie that has a lot of action, but this soundtrack proves that subtle touches can really make a lot of difference. This is not the type of soundtrack that jumps out as well crafted, but it handles all the basics and throws in some great presence. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You can listen to film historian Dr. Drew Casper’s audio commentary track, which is informative, but also on the dull side. He is all research and minimal charisma, so if you can stay awake while he drones on, you will learn some worthwhile stuff. He talks the movie itself of course, behind the scenes information, but he also discusses members of the cast and crew, some in depth. The only other supplement here is the film’s theatrical, but I am always glad to see trailers included.

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