And the hits just keep on coming. Tonight Doc Films will screen Jean Renoir’s The Golden Coach at 8:30 PM, and on Thursday at 6 PM the Film Center will present a second screening of Minnelli’s Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life. Both movies are essential works of Technicolor—and, by extension, 35-millimeter photography—suggesting oil paintings come to life. While there’s more to them than cinematography, seeing them on film heightens a dimension of their artistry that can only be hinted at by DVD.
Lust for Life, more importantly, is overwhelming on a big screen. It was Minnelli’s third film in MetroScope (MGM’s in-house response to Fox’s CinemaScope), and he uses the wide-screen frame masterfully. Interiors become vistas: when a character traverse a room—as Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn do repeatedly in one of the film’s long-take dialogue scenes—one feels some major evolution taking place within him. As for the rooms, they’re designed with the exacting, revelatory detail that marks even this director’s lesser work (if there is a heaven, then Vincente Minnelli is surely its interior decorator). For Minnelli, design is an extension of the soul—and Lust for Life communicates his philosophy beautifully.