This film works in spite of the fact that it shouldn't. A film about the life of Van Gogh shouldn't have been made during the 50s in the Hollywood system when it couldn't be told as gritty or real as other film eras would allow and it shouldn't have starred an alpha male movie star like Douglas as the frail, sensitive artist. Yet the film works annd Douglas gives one of his best performances.
Van Gogh as vulgar auteur, castigated for his lack of form but capable of expressing things the "masters" never could. Kirk Douglas seems ill-matched for the role but doesn't play against type so much as channel that type into something boldly different. Metrocolor can't do all Minnelli needs it to here, but the impressionistic fades in and out of VG's art and the world that spawned them is sublime.
" If I'm to be anything as a painter I've got to break through that iron wall between what I feel and what I express. my best chance of doing it is here, where my roots are... the people I know, the earth I know. "