'Loving Vincent': A Film As Astonishing As The Man Who Inspired It
Most people will know that Vincent Van Gogh was an artist who cut off his ear. And that’s about it.
Admittedly, my knowledge of Van Gogh was similarly limited, but after travelling to The Netherlands, I soon learnt that he was more than just an artist; a tortured soul and a cultural icon, Van Gogh’s artistry was undeniably masterful, yet it’s his life story that’s arguably more colourful and astonishing than any of his paintings.
Van Gogh was an ostracised, aloof, misunderstood, and eccentric man, plagued by alcohol abuse and mental illness throughout his life, suffering from regular psychotic episodes that led to him cutting off his own ear and eventually committing suicide. In every way, he was the quintessential flawed genius, typifying the romantic ideal of a tortured artist.
All the ingredients to make a compelling film, one might think.
Enter, Loving Vincent, the first fully painted animated film, portraying Van Gogh’s story in a wholly unique and original way.
Centring on a young man’s (Douglas Booth) quest to deliver one of Van Gogh’s many letters to his brother, Theo, the film is a cleverly veiled murder mystery, with the self-appointed detective seeking to uncover the truth behind the artist’s suicide and potential murder through a series of dream-like black and white flashbacks.
Whilst the plot is unquestionably packed with suspense, it’s the impressionistic style of storytelling that really captures the imagination of audiences.
Visually, Loving Vincent is a masterpiece, expertly encapsulating the moods and tones of many of Van Gogh’s most notable paintings, including Café Terrace at Night, Portrait Of Dr. Gachet, and Starry Night Over The Rhone. The entirely hand-painted film took over seven years to make, with a team of 115 supremely talented painters creating 65,000 oil painted canvases in Van Gogh’s signature style which were used throughout the film.
With Loving Vincent, directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchmen have managed to create a mesmeric piece of art befitting of a genius like Van Gogh. Like many of his paintings, the film is a powerful sensory experience, and even the musical score is majestic, providing a haunting realism to the poignant and melancholy moments in the film that sadly became more and more frequent in Vincent’s life.
Make no mistake, this is the tragic and remarkably sad, real-life tale of a man so obviously flawed yet irrefutably gifted. The juxtaposition of this against the backdrop of such a gorgeous and vivid backdrop is what makes Loving Vincent so utterly compelling.
Quite simply, I have never seen a more beautifully presented film than Loving Vincent; looking at one of Van Gogh’s paintings can stir up a whole cocktail of emotions, so imagine what it’s like to witness a whole series of them come to life over the course of 90 minutes.
This is a film that has to be seen to be appreciated, so I implore you to go and watch it for yourself; if the art world holds Van Gogh’s work in the highest regard, then the cinematic world is bound to hold Loving Vincent in similarly high esteem.
Loving Vincent is in cinemas on 13th October. Check out the trailer below:
Images via BreakThru Productions/Trademark Films/Good Deed Entertainment