“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”
-Vincent van Gogh
Brilliant gold and bright yellow paints softly emerge from fields of rich greens. Pictures that are hand painted bloom on top of the large silver screen. My eyes widen a bit as I stare at the emerging images, inspired by famed Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Willem van Gogh, that has now come to life.
I was finally able to sit down at my local indie movie theatre to watch the film, “Loving Vincent,” the world’s first fully painted feature film directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman last week, and I was not disappointed.
I was in a constant state of awe at the beginning of the film as I was reminded, with every flicker of oil paint, that it took seven years for a team of 115 painters to hand-paint nearly 65,000 frames. I eventually became used to the moving paintings, that the artists had created by following a style intended to mimic van Gogh, as the biographical story of the painter deepened and brought up the mysteries that surrounded his death.
The story actually begins after the painter passes and follows a young man, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) who travels to Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent van Gogh lived after his release from a clinic where he was treated for his mental illness. Roulin attempts to deliver a letter to Vincent’s brother in the year following the artist’s apparent suicide. We learn by watching the film about van Gogh’s life from the point of view of the people closest to him in his final days.
“Loving Vincent” beautifully captures the genius and kindness of van Gogh whose work is known for color, emotion, and beauty. Watching the film reminded me why van Gogh has been regarded as the most celebrated Dutch painter since Rembrandt, and one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. However, it was hard to stomach the reminder that the painter remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life.
Better than just hearing facts and assumptions about van Gogh, the film took its audience on a ride into the soul of the painter. I was able to connect emotionally and better understand the artist through the work of art that encapsulated van Gogh’s works of art.