In the Paris of the 1880s, Paul Gauguin (Kiefer Sutherland) is a successful stockbroker who loves his Danish wife Mette (Nastassja Kinski) and four children. But he loves painting even more and when one of his idols, Camille Pissarro (Alun Armstrong) compliments him on his work, Gauguin decides to throw it all in to become a painter himself. Soon, the family is reduced to poverty with Mette and the children moving back to her family home in Copenhagen. Paul follows and tries his hand at a business career but his heart isn't in it. He returns to France to pursue his dream, but in search of fresh inspiration - and cheaper overheads - he sets sail for Tahiti. Gauguin sides with the Tahitians in their conflict with the colonial administration and missionaries, who are destroying the islanders' traditional faith. He produces some of his best work, which when exhibited in Paris, earns Gauguin nothing but ridicule and humiliation. All except Mette and Pissarro turn their backs on him. Hurt but more determined than ever, Gauguin returns to the South Seas to continue the fight.
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