Rembrant (1936) Film Review

I watched this film a few nights ago on TCM.

It starred Charles Laughton as Rembrandt van Rijn. The film begins at the time in his life when he was very popular & accepted in society.

(Rembrandt van Rijn, Officers and Men of the Amsterdam Kloveniers Militia, the Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, signed and dated ‘Rembrandt f 1642’, canvas, 363 x 438 cm, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum)

But after the death of his wife, Rembrandt’s artwork became darker. When he revealed his painting, “The Night Watch”, people were shocked & disgusted. They ridiculed & denounced the work. Rembrandt, who was once so admired, became a symbol of failure.

It is hard to imagine why this classic painting was so reviled & criticized.  Many people believed that it was just too dark, & needed more light. Others thought that it showed the militiamen as too ordinary.

Throughout the next several years, Rembrandt suffered financial troubles & bankruptcy. He attempted to find comfort in a maid whom he wanted to marry, but this relationship only brought more ostracism. A judge accused them of being immoral.

His lover became ill & died before they were able to marry. Rembrandt fell even further from his former success. He walked the streets a beggar.

The film ends with him painting a self portrait & quoting Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

Although some of the monologues in this film drag on too long, it is still worth seeing if you are interested in the life of artists, or if you just want to see some very interesting costumes.


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