by Elizabeth Gerken – Staff Writer
The worlds first fully painted feature film, Loving Vincent, is a triumph in both story and visuals. Taking place one year after Vincent van Goh’s death, the film depicts the son of Vincent’s postman, Armand Roulin played by Douglass booth, going to deliver the final letter from Vincent to his beloved brother Theo. He learns that Theo had died a few months after Vincent from his old paint supplier Père Tanguy. However, during their discussion Vincent’s old doctor, Dr. Gachet, prompting Armond to travel to Auvers-sur-Oise to visit the doctor and deliver the letter. During his stay he learns more about the mysterious circumstances of Vincent’s supposed suicide and learns what people thought of the mysterious and eccentric painter.
The film works in two distinct styles, a style reminiscent of van Goh’s work to portray the story of Armond and the events that take place in the present, and a black and white realistic style that depicted the life of van Goh leading up to his death and any events that took place near the time of his death. By using these styles, the film creates a stunningly effective divide from what is real and what is rumor, a divide often missed or blurred in live action media. Rumors and first-hand stories are the primary way that we learn about Vincent’s life and death in the film and while this lead to inconsistencies, they feel purposeful seeing as everyone who knew him viewed him differently. Apart from word of mouth, we know little about his personal life or early childhood events that may have lead to his mental decline. The black and white scenes we see and the stories the characters tell also give us insight onto the different aspects of his life such as the friendship he had with Dr. Gachet and his life hanging around with the young rebellious socialites of the era. Loving Vincent isn’t just a film with an incredible story though, the visuals are the shining star of this feature.
As previously stated, Loving Vincent is the worlds first fully oil painted feature film and this is no small feat. Despite having over 100 separate artists working on creating each frame, the style is unbelievably consistent and stays true to the brushwork of van Goh’s work. Environments are sometimes hard to read, and some distant forms are lost but this is all reminiscent of Van Goh’s works witch occasionally lost details in the broad and colorful strokes of paint. All of the characters in the films appearances are based off of Vincent’s paintings and sketches and are often introduced by placing them in the environment of the painting they were featured in creating beautiful callbacks to his work and demonstrating how his life and the people he knew influenced his art. Overall, Loving Vincent is a true labor of love that is visually stunning and hosts a compelling story that will surely go down as one of the greatest technical achievements in modern film.