FYI, that’s not you pronounce Van Gogh. It is van GOKH.
Starry Night is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world and was created by none other than Vincent Van Gogh. He is one of my favorite painters, but to be quite frank, I do not know much about his life other than the basics: he didn’tsell any of his most famous paintings until after his death, he cut his ear off, and he committed suicide in a somewhat mysterious way. When my friend suggested that we go see Loving Vincent, I was a bit on the fence. What else did I have to know about Van Gogh? I did eventually decide to go after much deliberation, and man, was I blown away.
Loving Vincent follows the story of Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), who is set with the task of delivering a letter from the late Vincent Van Gogh (Robert Gulacyzk) to his brother, Theo. When he arrives in Paris, he finds out that Theo is no longer alive and has to find someone else to accept the letter. He soon finds himself travelling around France to talk to Van Gogh’s paint supplier, his doctor, and the townspeople of Auvers-sur-Oise. The audience discovers that everyone has minute differences in their stories of Van Gogh. Everyone had their own perspectives of him, both good and bad. Roulin runs himself ragged trying to find out how and why Van Gogh killed himself. Eventually, he comes to terms with the fact that he will not discover what really happened.
The story of Loving Vincent is so intriguing to me. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time trying to decide whose side I was on. I couldn’t decide if I liked Van Gogh’s former doctor or if I believed the “mad man’s” theory. The film was very cerebral for me. I could not relax, my mind was going a thousand miles a minute trying to decide who I believed. The yearning Roulin had for the truth was transmitted to the audience and really allowed for us to feel his emotions. At the end, I felt slightly angry because there was no answer, but at the same time, I felt at ease. How Van Gogh died doesn’t matter; all that matters is his portrayal of himself in all of his work. He was a genius, and a beautiful person, which can be seen in his art today.
What makes this film so special is that each frame was hand-painted by a team of over 100 artists who hail mainly from the Netherlands and Poland. Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film, at least according to its website. The entire movie is painted in two different styles. One is in the style of Van Gogh, with loose brushstrokes and bright, contrasted colors; the other is a more photographic, black and white take. The Van Gogh frames are reserved for when the narrator is just living his life and talking to the townspeople. The others serve as a contrast to the Van Gogh style ones and show while the townspeople are telling their stories to Roulin.
The presentation of the film is so beautiful. I don’t think I blinked the entire time. The colors and the styles look just like Van Gogh’s, which really connects him to his art. There are theories that the way Van Gogh painted was the way he saw the world. If this is true, the audience is able to see the world as Vincent did, even if it is just for 95 minutes. The music paired with the paintings also added to the experience. The music was calming and could be considered “traditional” French. It allowed for the audience to feel as if it is connecting to the world Vincent lived in even more.
I would 100% recommend seeing Loving Vincent. It was a great film that made me think and value the importance of hearing different perspectives. The only problem I had with the film is finding it. I saw it at a film festival in Amsterdam, but in the U.S., there are not as many showings. I suggest planning a little in advance if you want to see it– trust me it is worth it. Loving Vincent is an absolutely stunning film that people from all walks of life can come to appreciate.
Loving Vincent is rated PG-13.