Who is Rembrandt according to the director and the actor?
If I were to look at who Rembrandt is by looking at the actor’s acting style, I would see a complicated individual, one of desire, flamboyance, passion, politics and commitment. The acting style communicated Rembrandt’s desire for his way of viewing the world, especially in the scene where he unveils the commissioned painting and people find they are in the shadows or their faces are not seen at all. Though the a theatrical soliloquy in a movie is now outdated, there was a passion, either about religion or love when we listened to long clips of dialogue. Just a look from the actor, a twitch of the face, a fish hanging by its tail, ready to enter his mouth was enough to flesh out the richness of the painter’s persona. This is also true of the repartee between Rembrandt and the beggar, when Rembrandt is looking for someone to sit for a painting of an Old Testament King. The spirit with which it was delivered fleshed out a Rembrandt who was living for us as a man, apart from his paintings.
Who is Rembrandt and how do we know that? In the twenty-first century we know Rembrandt was a painter of masterpieces that have endured for four centuries. But the mise-en-scene gave us an idea of who Rembrandt was as he painted. We saw the arch shaped bridges that go over the canals, and the tall thin houses that lined them. I am one of the people in the class who is lucky enough to have visited the Rembrandt house and museum in Amsterdam. Should you be lucky enough to go into that house, the guide will probably point to the walls in the entry and says something to the effect of, “Rembrandt had his painting hanging all over this wall, a gallery of his own, where he displayed pictures he had for sale. His shop was always open for commerce.” The film showed us similar walls in Rembrandt’s house, and people coming to buy from him. We know a small piece of who Rembrandt is, just by looking at his surroundings, how he lived in them, and how he painted them.