Updated On: March 29, 2024 by   Maha Yassin   Maha Yassin  

Loving Vincent (2017)



1hr 34min

Loving Vincent (2017): The Tragedy of an Artistic Life

Everyone thinks that the lives of artists are always so glamorous and beautiful. They expect that just because someone produces beautiful things, they must have led a life just as amazing. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Many artists led a tragic life, and their art was a reflection of what they hoped life […]



Everyone thinks that the lives of artists are always so glamorous and beautiful. They expect that just because someone produces beautiful things, they must have led a life just as amazing. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Many artists led a tragic life, and their art was a reflection of what they hoped life would have been like. One of those artists is Vincent Van Gough.

The Dutch painter, who is famously known for his artistic ability to capture life in a swirl of colours, is one of the most renowned artists today. However, during his life, Van Gough lived as a poor man struggling with mental health issues. His life and death were a series of mysterious events that piqued the interest of historians for years.

Loving Vincent is a film made to capture the mysterious essence of Van Gough’s life while also shedding light on his beautiful work, not just the famous Starry Nights. Come with us as we review the film and how it affected Van Gough’s legacy in modern days.

Key Takeaways

  • Loving Vincent is the first fully painted feature film, using over 65,000 hand-painted frames to bring Vincent van Gogh’s artwork to life in a visually stunning way.
  • The movie follows a man who investigates the mysterious circumstances of Van Gogh’s death, uncovering truths and lies along the way.
  • Directed by Dorota Kobiela, an experienced painter herself, Loving Vincent showcases the power of art and storytelling through its innovative animation technique and attention to detail.

Loving Vincent: The Last Days of a Master

Loving Vincent (2017) delves into the life and mysterious death of Vincent van Gogh, one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Set in 1891, a year after Van Gogh’s death, the story is told through the eyes of Armand Roulin, a young man tasked with delivering Van Gogh’s final letter to his brother, Theo. As Armand travels to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent his final days, he becomes intrigued by the circumstances of the artist’s sudden death, which was ruled a suicide.

Throughout his journey, Armand encounters various individuals who know Van Gogh, including his paint supplier, Pere Tanguy, and Dr. Gachet, who treated Van Gogh in his last weeks. These encounters lead Armand to question the accepted narrative of Van Gogh’s suicide. He hears conflicting accounts and theories, uncovering the complexities of Van Gogh’s life, his mental illness, and his relationships with those around him.

The film’s narrative is intricately woven with flashbacks, depicting key moments from Van Gogh’s life and his prolific artistic career. These flashbacks are painted in black and white, contrasting with the vivid colours of the present-day scenes, reflecting the vibrant style of Van Gogh’s own artwork.

Loving Vincent is not just a biographical recounting of Van Gogh’s life; it’s an exploration of the mystery surrounding his death and a tribute to his artistic legacy. The film stands out for its unique visual style, with each frame hand-painted in oil paints, mimicking Van Gogh’s technique. This artistic approach adds a deeply personal and immersive quality to the storytelling, allowing viewers to step into Van Gogh’s world and see it through his eyes.

The Extraordinary Production of Loving Vincent

The production of Loving Vincent stands as a monumental achievement in the world of film and art, representing the first ever fully painted feature film. This extraordinary endeavour required a unique blend of artistic mastery and cinematic innovation.

The World’s First Fully Painted Feature Film

Loving Vincent (2017) holds the distinction of being the world’s first fully painted feature film, a landmark achievement in the fusion of traditional art and modern cinema. This groundbreaking project redefines the boundaries of animated storytelling by employing a technique never before used on such a scale in film history. Here are key aspects of its significance as the first fully painted feature film:

Unprecedented Artistic Endeavor

The entire film consists of 65,000 frames, each one a hand-painted oil painting on canvas. This required a colossal effort, blending the meticulous attention of classical painting with the dynamic flow of cinema.

Dedicated Team of Artists

A team of 125 professional artists from around the world was assembled to bring this vision to life. These artists were selected for their ability to replicate Van Gogh’s iconic style, ensuring that every frame of the film paid homage to his artistic legacy.

Revolutionary Technique

The process involved first shooting the film with actors and then hand-painting each frame based on the live-action footage. This method required each artist to paint over their previous frame, modifying it to create the next, resulting in a fluid, living canvas that brought the characters and scenes to life.

Van Gogh’s Style and Palette

The film is not just painted in any style; it meticulously emulates Van Gogh’s distinct brushwork and colour palette. This dedication to authenticity allows the film to immerse viewers in the world as Van Gogh might have seen and painted it.

Narrative and Aesthetic Fusion

The use of painting as the medium for storytelling is deeply symbolic for a film about Vincent van Gogh. It bridges the gap between Van Gogh’s emotional and turbulent life story and his artistic achievements, offering a unique perspective on his world.

Technical Challenges

The production faced numerous challenges, from ensuring consistency in the paintings to managing the sheer volume of artwork required. The project demanded not just artistic skill but also significant logistical coordination and technological support.

Impact on Film and Art

Loving Vincent has set a new benchmark for artistic innovation in film. It opened up possibilities for future projects that blend art forms, inspiring filmmakers and artists to explore new ways of storytelling.

The Cast and Crew Behind Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent features a talented cast and was directed by a team with a unique vision for blending cinematic storytelling with traditional art.

Dorota Kobiela (Co-director)

Kobiela’s journey to Loving Vincent is rooted in her passion for painting and filmmaking. Her initial inspiration for the film came from her own experience as a painter and her deep fascination with Vincent van Gogh’s work and life. This project was a personal one for her, blending her artistic sensibilities with her storytelling skills.

Hugh Welchman (Co-director)

Welchman, an Oscar-winning producer for his work on Peter & the Wolf (2006), brought a wealth of experience in animation and film production. His expertise was crucial in handling the logistical and technical aspects of such an ambitious project. His role was integral in transforming Kobiela’s artistic vision into a tangible, cinematic experience.

Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin

Booth, known for his roles in Noah (2014) and The Riot Club (2014), brought depth and nuance to the character of Armand Roulin. His portrayal is central to the film’s exploration of Van Gogh’s life, providing the audience with a relatable point of view.

Jerome Flynn as Dr. Paul Gachet

Best known for his role in Game of Thrones, Flynn’s portrayal of Dr. Gachet is complex and vital. His character offers insight into Van Gogh’s final days and the mystery surrounding his death.

Saoirse Ronan as Marguerite Gachet

Saoirse Ronan, a critically acclaimed actress recognized for her roles in films like Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), brings a sensitive and compelling performance as Marguerite Gachet, adding emotional depth to the film.

Chris O’Dowd as Postman Joseph Roulin

O’Dowd, known for his comedic roles in Bridesmaids (2011) and The IT Crowd, brings warmth and humanity to the role of Joseph Roulin, a friend and subject of Van Gogh’s paintings.

The cast’s performances were initially captured through live-action filming. These performances were then used as a basis for the paintings, with the actors’ expressions and movements meticulously translated into Van Gogh’s style by the team of painters.

The combination of Kobiela’s artistic vision and Welchman’s production expertise, along with the cast’s strong performances, created a film that is not only a tribute to Van Gogh’s art but also a unique cinematic experience. Their collective efforts resulted in a film that is both a technical marvel and a deeply human story, reflecting the passion, turmoil, and beauty of Van Gogh’s life and work.

Critical Reception For Loving Vincent

The innovative animation and storytelling of Loving Vincent received positive reviews, with recognition given to the director’s background as a painter.

Positive Reviews for the Innovative Animation and Storytelling

The innovative animation and storytelling in Loving Vincent have received positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The film’s unique approach of using hand-painted frames, created by over 125 animator-painters, has been praised for its beauty and attention to detail.

The oil painting technique used in the movie brings Vincent van Gogh’s artwork to life in a mesmerizing way. Additionally, the storytelling captivates viewers as they follow the protagonist on a journey to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding Van Gogh’s death.

This combination of visually stunning animation and engaging narrative has earned Loving Vincent accolades and recognition for its artistic achievement.

Acknowledgement of the Director’s Background as a Painter

As the director of Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela brings her background as a painter to this unique film. Her experience and understanding of painting techniques contribute to the film’s authenticity and artistic vision.

By using oil-painted frames, she creates a stunning visual homage to Vincent van Gogh’s work. Kobiela’s expertise adds depth and nuance to the storytelling, capturing the essence of Van Gogh’s artistry and tragic life.

This acknowledgement highlights her artistic sensibilities and reinforces the film’s dedication to honouring Van Gogh as both an artist and a complex human being.

The Impact of Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent has had a profound impact on the world of film, showcasing the power of art and storytelling through its innovative animation and unique oil-painted frames. The movie has garnered critical acclaim for its ability to bring Vincent van Gogh’s work to life, further solidifying his artistic legacy and sparking a renewed interest in his paintings.

Showcasing the Power of Art

Loving Vincent is a groundbreaking film that showcases the incredible power of art and storytelling. Through its unique animation technique using hand-painted frames, the movie brings to life the artistic genius of Vincent van Gogh in a way never seen before.

The exquisite attention to detail in each frame imitates Van Gogh’s painting style, immersing viewers in his world and allowing them to truly appreciate his artistic legacy. By delving into the life and mysterious death of this troubled artist, Loving Vincent not only entertains but also educates audiences about an important figure in art history.

This film is a testament to how art can touch our hearts and capture our imagination, serving as a reminder of the profound impact that visual storytelling can have on our lives.

Accolades and Recognition for Vincent Van Gogh’s Work

Loving Vincent has played a significant role in garnering accolades and further recognition for Vincent van Gogh’s work. The film beautifully captures the essence of his artistic genius by showcasing his vibrant paintings through oil-painted animation.

This unique approach not only brings van Gogh’s masterpieces to life but also introduces them to a wider audience. The innovative storytelling and animation techniques employed in the film have been highly praised, allowing viewers to gain a deeper understanding of the artist’s turbulent life and tragic death.

Through Loving Vincent, van Gogh’s artistic legacy continues to shine and inspire audiences around the world, solidifying his status as one of history’s most celebrated artists.

Loving Vincent is a beautifully artistic film that celebrates the life of a talented artist who changed the artistic scene with his work. He might not have stayed alive to live through his success, but hopefully, our acknowledgement of it will be enough. If you’re an artist yourself, you will absolutely love this film, but even if you’re not, the human experience is universal, and Loving Vincent will teach you that.

What is the film Loving Vincent (2017) about?

Loving Vincent is a biographical drama that tells the story of the life and death of Vincent Van Gough using adult animated images acted out on canvas.

Is Loving Vincent (2017) only an artist’s biography?

No, it is not! Due to the mysterious circumstances of Van Gough’s death, the film feels like a murder mystery and a thriller alongside the biographical side.

What is the art style used in Loving Vincent (2017)?

Loving Vincent uses Van Gogh’s unique post-impressionist style, characterized by vibrant colours and bold, expressive brushstrokes.

Is Loving Vincent (2017) historically accurate?

Yes, every detail, including each canvas in Loving Vincent, aims at being true to history and giving real facts about his life and works.

Does Loving Vincent (2017) take place in France?

Yes, just like Van Gough’s real life, the events of the movie mostly take place in France especially in the town of Auvers-sur-Oise.

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