Gauguin in Tahiti: Paradise Lost (2019) – Review

There is no doubt that this is an excellent documentary about one of the great painters in history and they will understand the man behind the genius.

The 1
April 1891, Paul Gauguin left Marseille aboard the Oceanien ship, with
Tahiti destination, in French Polynesia. He was 43 years old and that day marked the
beginning of a journey towards the essence of life and art, of the search for
the authenticity and, of the deepest explorations of a nature
lush and sensual, Gauguin will become one of the greatest painters
of all times.

This is how the documentary begins Gauguin in Tahiti: Paradise Lost, directed by Claudio Poli, author of the report Hitler Vs. Picasso and other modern artists. A report that is not content to show us the life and work of the artist in Tahiti, but rather delves into the principle to understand what led him to make the decision of such a trip.

With a 180 degree turn, he tells us a part of the painter's biography: he was born in Paris on June 7, 1848 and, two years later, his family marches to Peru. They live in Lima for four years, where the images of the Latin American country would end up being of great influence in Gauguin's art. At the age of fourteen he entered the naval preparatory school and then registered as a pilot assistant of the merchant navy. After serving in the French navy for a period of two years, he returns to Paris where he gets a job as a broker. He became a successful entrepreneur. In 1873, he married Danish Mette-Sophie Glad and they had five children. It was a middle class family, but their marriage collapsed after eleven years of living together, when Gauguin decided to paint full time, not as a simple hobby.

The documentary turns the adventure book that was Gauguin's life into images.

Anyway I will not tell you the biography of Gauguin, much less. The trip to the Marquesas (and other islands), was a kind of liberation for the artist, while the camera focuses on beautiful exotic landscapes that inspired some of the immortal works, carefully told by experts and historians. The best thing about the documentary is that it manages to play, perfectly, both aspects: Gauguin's work and life. It is not a simple walk through a museum or admire the beautiful island landscapes. Unlike. He enters the complex personality of the painter and, through his personal book, introduces us to man.

The documentary turns the adventure book that was Gauguin's life into images, but don't forget that it is also the story of a failure, because the artist could not free himself from his origins, from the ambitions and privileges of modern man. After all, we must not forget that he was a citizen of a colonial power: he painted palm trees, but his thoughts were directed towards the people of the West. A paradox that was reflected in the destiny of his work, since his paintings are preserved in the main international museums where millions of people stop every year in front of Tahiti canvases.

There is no doubt that this is an excellent documentary about one of the great painters in history and they will understand the man behind the genius. Go see it, don't think it's heavy. Everything is calculated to the millimeter, until the interventions of the biographers.


Synopsis Documentary that transports us to French Polynesia, Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands, where painter Paul Gauguin began his journey towards the essence of life and art, and the desperate search for authenticity and the ever deeper exploration of a exuberant and sensual nature. There, in the antipodes of civilization, he will become one of the greatest painters of modern times.
country Italy
Address Claudio Poli
Script Marco Goldin, Matteo Moneta
Music Anzovino Rowing
Photography Lorenzo Giromini, Alessio Viola
Gender Documentary film
Duration 88 min.
Original title Gauguin to Tahiti. Il paradiso perduto aka
Premiere 02/17/2020

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