Julian Schnabel

USA, France, 2018 / 111 min / English and French OV with French and Dutch subt. (EN & FR OV with FR & NL subt.) / Drama, Biography

In collaboration with MUDAM Luxembourg

An account of the last days of famed but tormented artist, Vincent van Gogh.

To escape the lacklustre light of the north, Vincent van Gogh settles in Mediterranean Arles, France, in 1888, where he embarks on the most creative phase of his work and develops his unique, colourful style of painting. He is smitten with the natural landscapes and everyday objects, as well as with the local people he paints, who treat him as an outsider despite his efforts to forge connections. Rather than recognising his sensitivity, those around him see only madness: the beauty that drives him to ecstasy is considered ugly by others. While grappling with religion, mental illness and a tumultuous friendship with French artist Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh begins to focus on his relationship with eternity rather than the pain his art causes him in the present.

Schnabel’s vision of Van Gogh’s final days is a view into the artist unlike any other. This is a story that pursues what the act of creation – that visceral, searing magic that defies all words and obliterates time – feels like from the inside, the strenuous physicality of painting and the devotional intensity of the artist’s life, especially the way painters see. The result is a kaleidoscopic and surprising movie experience – one that becomes just as much about the role of the artist in the world, about being alive and reaching for the eternal, as it is about the beauty and wonder Van Gogh left behind, never knowing his profound impact.


Wed 13/03 19:00 Kinepolis Kirchberg EN OV with FR & NL subt. Public

“Willem Dafoe has his greatest role since Jesus Christ in Julian Schnabel's luminous present-tense drama about the last days of Vincent van Gogh. […] At Eternity’s Gate, Julian Schnabel’s fluky and transporting drama about Van Gogh’s tumultuous, fervid, and artistically possessed last days, is a movie that channels the light, the evanescent glow of Van Gogh’s painting and being, like lightning in a bottle. Shot with a hand-held camera, and set during the time Van Gogh spent in the small Provençal town of Arles in the south of France, where he at one point completed 75 paintings (many of them legendary) in 80 days, it’s a flowingly intuitive and celebratory biopic — a bursting sunflower of a movie. Schnabel, the director of Before Night Falls and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, has stripped down his filmmaking in the most seductive way, all to achieve something audacious and elemental. He’s out to imagine what Vincent van Gogh was really like, and to bask in Van Gogh’s presence with an experiential, present-tense immediacy.” Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 03/09/2018

“Vincent — a magnificent Willem Dafoe — is not defined by that [madness] but by the art with which he at once communes with the world and transcends it. Schnabel is interested in this difficult, mercurial man and attentive to his hardships. Strikingly, though, his interest has a rare quality of tenderness to it, perhaps because, unlike most filmmakers who make movies about great artists, he is fundamentally preoccupied with art itself. […] The movie is a freely subjective portrait of Van Gogh by another artist trying to see, paint and feel as he did. Schnabel draws on the historical record when it suits him, including by pulling lines from Van Gogh’s letters. At one point, Vincent says that a “grain of madness is the best of art,” an observation borrowed from one of his missives. This man, much like the real one, is acutely aware of his fragilities. Yet by adamantly focusing above all else on Van Gogh’s work — and its transporting ecstasies — Schnabel has made not just an exquisite film but an argument for art.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times, 16/11/2018

“There have been plenty of films about the tortured Dutch artist, but none as evocative and affecting as Julian Schnabel’s latest, starring Willem Dafoe. […] In At Eternity’s Gate, Schnabel goes deeper than ever before into the art of making art and the human toll it exacts. Dafoe, looking like a Van Gogh self-portrait come to life, becomes the ideal canvas for Schnabel to paint his feelings on film. You can argue about At Eternity’s Gate, debate its merits as drama and its fullness as biography, but Schnabel and Dafoe make you feel it in your bones. And that, no question, is an artistic triumph.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, 14/11/2018

“There may never have been a painter as sure of his artistic vision, yet as emotionally needy, psychologically troubled and socially isolated as Vincent van Gogh. Willem Dafoe’s magnificent performance captures every bit of the artist’s complexity in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate. With stunning visuals and a judicious balance of poetry and drama, Schnabel draws us into both Van Gogh’s genius and his tortured life. […] Dafoe, with reddish hair and beard, piercing blue eyes and a craggy face, looks the part, but the brilliance of this performance comes from the way he quietly conveys the painter’s thoughts, insecurities and moments of inspiration.” Caryn James, BBC Culture, 19/11/2018

“Beautifully shot, with splashes of bright colours perfectly corresponding with his famous paintings and warm sunlight permeating every other shot, At Eternity’s Gate is truly quite a treat to look at.” Marta Balaga, Cineuropa, 4/09/2018

  • Satellite Award – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, for Willem Dafoe, Satellite Awards, 2019 (USA)
  • Green Drop Award, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
  • Volpi Cup – Best Actor for Willem Dafoe, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Lolita Chammah, Amira Casar
Jean-Claude Carrière, Julian Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg
Benoît Delhomme
Jean-Paul Mugel, Thomas Desjonquères, Dominique Gaborieau
Stéphane Cressend
Tatiana Lisovskaya
Rahway Road, Iconoclast
The Searchers

The painter and director Julian Schnabel was born in New York City in 1951. He attended the University of Houston from 1969-1973, receiving a BFA, and returned to New York to participate in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. In 1978 Schnabel travelled throughout Europe and, inspired by Gaudí’s work in Barcelona, made his first plate painting, The Patients and the Doctors. In 1979, he landed his first solo painting exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York. An important figure of neo-expressionism, Schnabel’s work has been exhibited all over the world, in the Tate Gallery, Centre Georges Pompidou or the San Francisco MoMA among many others. In 1996 Schnabel wrote and directed the feature film Basquiat (1996) about fellow New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film was in the official selection of the 1996 Venice Film Festival. His second film, Before Night Falls (2000), is based on the life of exiled Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas, and won the Grand Jury Prize in Venice. In 2007 Schnabel directed his third film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), earning him a Best Director award in Cannes and 4 Oscar nominations. His fifth film, Miral (2010) was shown at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. At Eternity’s Gate (2018), Schnabel’s sixth feature, premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2018.

  • 2018 – At Eternity's Gate
  • 2010 – Miral
  • 2007 – Berlin (documentary)
  • 2007 – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • 2000 – Before Night Falls
  • 1996 – Basquiat