Samuel Walpole | 01/10/2915
Loving Vincent is a unique aesthetic experience that masterfully captures the world in the style of Van Gogh’s work in an engaging exploration of his life and the human condition.
2017 has been a significant year for Van Gogh’s work in Australia, from the recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria to the premiere now of this unique Polish-UK production. Loving Vincent commences a year after the tragic death of the brilliant, but tortured, Vincent Van Gogh, noted in the film as the father of modern art. It traces the journey taken by Armand Roulin, a member of the Roulin family immortalised as subjects of Van Gogh’s work, as he struggles to deliver a letter written by Vincent and intended for his brother Theo. This takes the young man, himself struggling with his own personal demons, to the village of Auvers where Van Gogh ended his days, as he seeks an audience with Dr Gachet (Van Gogh’s doctor and the subject of another of his famous works).
What is beautiful, and unique, about Loving Vincent is how it is presented: it exists in the reality of Van Gogh’s work, with all of its animated frames consisting of actual oil paintings in Van Gogh’s style. Many reflect or draw homage to Van Gough’s actual works. In doing so, the film captures the vivid and colourful imagery that marks Van Gogh’s work and one cannot help but wonder how works of such vivid colour can capture so much melancholy. The result is something truly unique, although a bit of a sensory overload at first, and it is unlike any standard animated film. It allows the viewer to experience a world created in the imagery of Van Gogh’s works and this feat of production involving over 100 artists is something that must truly be marvelled at.
Through this imagery, interspersed with black and white scenes of the darker parts of Van Gogh’s times in Auvers, we experience Armand’s confusion as he seeks to determine what led Vincent to his fate, what actually happened to him and, indeed, why? In doing so, we see Armand – and those he encounters – grapple with the depths of the human condition and struggle to understand what is perhaps one of its most tragic mysteries (whatever the ultimate cause of Vincent’s fate).
Having been a fan of Van Gogh’s work for some time, it was quite an experience to immerse oneself in the aesthetic of his painting, whilst understanding more about this great artist or, as he described himself in letters to his brother, “your loving Vincent”. This is a distinctive piece of film making and deserves to be seen and, indeed, experienced.
Loving Vincent is a vivid and unique aesthetic experience that explores the human condition – making it a fitting tribute to Van Gough and his work. It really is a work of art itself.