Rembrandt (1936 film)

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Rembrandt
Dvdcover rembrandt.jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Alexander Korda
Written byJune Head
Lajos Bíró
Arthur Wimperis
Based onstory by Carl Zuckmayer
Produced byAlexander Korda
Starring Charles Laughton
Gertrude Lawrence
Elsa Lanchester
Edward Chapman
Cinematography Georges Périnal
Edited by Francis D. Lyon
William Hornbeck (sup)
Music by Geoffrey Toye
Production
company
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
6 November 1936 (UK)
25 December 1936 (US)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office£400,000 [1]

Rembrandt is a 1936 British biographical film made by London Film Productions of the life of 17th-century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. [2] The film was produced and directed by Alexander Korda from a screenplay by June Head and Lajos Bíró based on a story by Carl Zuckmayer. The music score was by Geoffrey Toye and the cinematography by Georges Périnal. [3]

Contents

Plot

Cast

Production

Alexander Korda had previously worked with Laughton on The Private Life of Henry VIII a hit “on both sides of the Atlantic” [4] —and wanted to re-create that success.

In an article on TCM.com, Seattle Times critic Sean Axmaker describes the detailed preparations for the film, which included Korda and Laughton's repeated trips to Holland and Laughton's taking up painting and growing a mustache. “There were problems on the set, notably a clash with stage legend Gertrude Lawrence... She was quite the raconteur on set, entertaining the cast and crew, and especially Korda, with gossip and ribald stories while Laughton tried to focus on his part. Laughton had soundproof screens put around the set to keep the chatter and bustle down, but Korda's perceived neglect of Laughton in favor of Lawrence led to a rift between the actor and the director that was never repaired.” [5]

The AFI Catalog offers more detail on the production, including Lawrence's behavior, as well as observations and quotes from Lanchester and Laughton, too numerous to paraphrase here. [6]

Laughton's wife, Elsa Lanchester plays Hendrickje, Rembrandt's maid and model, who becomes his lover and bears his daughter. Lanchester composed the music and lyrics for “Hendrickje's Theme”. [7]

Critical reception

In a 3 December 1936 review in The New York Times, B.R.Crisler, recommended the picture “in the strongest terms.”: "Charles Laughton and Alexander Korda have produced a great, and rich, and glowing motion picture in Rembrandt... a picture signed all over with distinction, like one of the master's own canvases... the noblest subject and the best likeness—so far, at any rate—in Mr. Laughton's inspired gallery of historical portraits”. Inspired “to raise ... perhaps undignified cheers,” the author pointed to the film's “courageous indifference to ‘romance,’ in the cheap Hollywood sense, its surprising, rather foreign awareness of the facts of life, and its resolute hewing to a line of individual integrity and character”. [8]

In her 15 March 1937, “Shots and Angles” column in Maclean's, Ann Ross recommended the “dignified, informative and beautifully acted picture.” [9]

Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a poor review, describing it as "a series of unrelated tableaux". Greene found that "the film is ruined by lack of story ['line'] and continuity [...] [which is the] drive of a well-constructed plot". Greene gave some praise for the acting of Laughton and Lanchester, but condemned the direction stating "I have called the film reverent, but pompous, I fear, would be nearer the mark." [10]

Time Out writes that although the film was "Less successful at the time than the earlier Private Life of Henry VIII, (it is) a far better film, thanks to a subtle, touching performance from Laughton as the ageing painter...Surprisingly sombre, it lacks a tight plot, but appeals through its vivid characterisation, superb Vincent Korda sets, and Georges Périnal's lovely camerawork." [11] [12]

In June 2018, The British Film Institute praised Rembrandt as “one of the most beautiful period films of its time. Laughton... is on fine form... the cinematography by Georges Périnal elegantly captures not just the painter’s life and times but also replicates the immersive, shadowy textures of his canvasses. One memorable scene, in which the widowed Rembrandt’s libido is reawakened by the sight of his maid walking up to her bedroom, is a tour de force of florid expressionism.” [13]

Leonard Maltin gives 3.5 out of 4 stars to this “Handsome bio of Dutch painter, full of visual tableaux and sparked by Laughton's excellent performance.” [14]

In 2007, Dennis Schwartz gave the film an A-minus: “(This) is a superior film and Korda has nothing to be ashamed of in the way he filmed it without the usual Hollywood action scenes. It features a marvelously spirited and subtle performance by Charles Laughton... Though the film only has a slight plot and there’s not much dramatic tension, it has a grand visual style.” [15]

As of July 2020, Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 71%, based on reviews by 7 critics, and 76% from audience ratings. [16]

Cultural References

The film is mentioned in the 1970 novel Bomber by Len Deighton which portrays an RAF night bombing raid on a German town in 1943. At the RAF bomber station at Warley Fen, as the aircrew prepare for take-off in the early evening, off-duty ground crew attend a screening of Rembrandt at the station cinema. The novel mentions that so many turn up to see the film, extra chairs have to be brought in from another building and latecomers have to sit in the aisles. [17]

Related Research Articles

The Private Life of Henry VIII is a 1933 British film directed and co-produced by Alexander Korda and starring Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Merle Oberon and Elsa Lanchester. It was written by Lajos Bíró and Arthur Wimperis for London Film Productions, Korda's production company. The film, which focuses on the marriages of King Henry VIII of England, was a major international success, establishing Korda as a leading filmmaker and Laughton as a box-office star.

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Elsa Lanchester English actress (1902–1986)

Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was an English-American actress with a long career in theatre, film and television.

Alexander Korda Hungarian-British film producer and director (1893–1956)

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Saskia van Uylenburgh Wife of Rembrandt van Rijn

Saskia van Uylenburgh was the wife of painter Rembrandt van Rijn. In the course of her life, she was his model for some of his paintings, drawings and etchings. She was the daughter of Rombertus Uylenburg, the mayor as well as the justice of the Court of Friesland.

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Rembrandt Dutch painter and printmaker (1606–1669)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and draughtsman. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.

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Geertje Dircx

Geertje Dircx was the lover of Rembrandt van Rijn after the death of his wife Saskia. She was hired as a wetnurse to the painter's son Titus, but lived with Rembrandt as his lover for several years. The relationship broke up acrimoniously, leading to a lengthy court-case for "breach of promise", in which she claimed maintenance from Rembrandt. She was eventually imprisoned after displaying increasingly unstable behaviour. After her release she tried to sue Rembrandt for wrongful imprisonment.

Titus van Rijn Son of Rembrandt

Titus van Rijn was the fourth and only surviving child of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Saskia van Uylenburgh. Titus is best known as a figure or model in his father's paintings and studies but also because of a legal case as preferential heir.

Hendrickje Stoffels

Hendrickje Stoffels was the longtime partner of Rembrandt. The couple were unable to marry because of the financial settlement linked to the will of Rembrandt's deceased wife Saskia, but they remained together until Hendrickje's death. In 1654 she gave birth to Rembrandt's daughter Cornelia. In the later years of their relationship Hendrickje managed Rembrandt's business affairs together with the painter's son Titus.

Herbert Lomas (actor) English actor

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Rembrandt is a 1942 German historical drama film directed by Hans Steinhoff and starring Ewald Balser, Hertha Feiler, Gisela Uhlen, and Aribert Wäscher. It was based on the novel Zwischen Hell und Dunkel by Valerian Tornius and depicts the life of the Dutch painter Rembrandt.

<i>Lucretia</i> (Rembrandt, 1666)

Lucretia is a 1666 history painting by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It is an oil painting on canvas that depicts a myth about a woman named Lucretia who lived during the ancient Roman eras. She committed suicide to defend her honor after being raped by an Etruscan king's son. For her self-sacrifice she is known as a heroine to the Romans, who celebrated the feminine ideals of virtue and chastity.

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Terror in the Wax Museum is a 1973 American horror mystery film directed by Georg Fenady and starring Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Maurice Evans, John Carradine, Broderick Crawford, Louis Hayward, Patric Knowles, and Shani Wallis. The film was released by Cinerama Releasing Corporation in May 1973. It is set in London at the end of the Victorian era.

References

  1. Harper, Sue (1994). Picturing the past : the rise and fall of the British costume film . BFI Publishing. p.  27.
  2. "BFI Screenonline: Rembrandt (1936)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  3. "Rembrandt (1936)".
  4. "The Private Life of Henry VIII (1934) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  5. "Rembrandt". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  6. "Rembrandt". catalog.afi.com. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  7. "Rembrandt". catalog.afi.com. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  8. B.r.c (3 December 1936). "Laughton's Portrait of 'Rembrandt,' at the Rivoli, Bears the Authentic Imprint -- Criterion Items". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  9. ROSS, ANN. "Shots and Angles | Maclean's | March 15, 1937". Maclean's | The Complete Archive. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  10. Greene, Graham (20 November 1936). "Rembrandt". The Spectator . (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. pp.  117, 120. ISBN   0192812866.)
  11. "Rembrandt". Time Out London. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  12. Timeout incorrectly credits Elsa Lanchester with playing Saskia, Rembrandt's first wife, who is never seen in the picture.
  13. "10 great films set in the 17th century". British Film Institute. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  14. "Rembrandt (1936) - Overview - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  15. "REMBRANDT – Dennis Schwartz Reviews" . Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  16. Rembrandt (1936) , retrieved 28 July 2020
  17. Deighton, Len. Bomber. Grafton Books, 1987. p-273.

Bibliography