Notes on At Eternity's Gate

September 29, 2019

I just watched Vincent Van Gogh’s biopic, At Eternity’s Gate. I don’t like most biopics. They are more focused on the drama and the love stories than the actual individual’s thought process and mastery of the craft. It was different this time, I enjoyed how the director portrayed his life by focusing on his art and philosophy. It even gave me a lot of food for thought.

You’re never really creating if you’ve never experienced great solitude. There are things you can only express through your work, but sometimes your work just doesn’t resonate with others and you enter an existential crisis. Creation is an act of sharing, a gift people can refuse.

Van Gogh was also a great example of what I have in mind when I hear the word traveler - someone in a constant search for the beauties this world has to offer. The movie shots perfectly illustrate how traveling, both physically and intellectually, is part of the creative process. Creation is a movement.

What is the frontier between relentless discipline and madness? Developing a passion is developing an addiction, in a sense. Van Gogh couldn’t live without painting, and his genius is the result of countless hours of practice. A spiritual quest to catch the perfect light in a canvas.

There are but a handful of movies which actually managed to depict this well the journey to mastery. Whiplash is another one. I’m glad I can add this biopic to the list of movies to regularly come back to for inspiration.