Loving Vincent is a 2017 experimental animated biographical drama film about the life of the painter Vincent van Gogh, and, in particular, about the circumstances of his death. It is the first fully painted animated feature film. The film, written and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, is a Polish-UK co-production, funded by the Polish Film Institute, and partially through a Kickstarter campaign.
Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Clint Mansell|
|Box office||$42.1 million|
Each of the film's 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh, created by a team of over 100 painters. The film premiered at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.
One year after Vincent van Gogh's suicide, postman Joseph Roulin asks his son Armand to deliver Van Gogh's last letter to his brother, Theo. Roulin finds the death suspicious, as merely weeks earlier Van Gogh claimed through letters that his mood was calm and normal. Armand reluctantly agrees and heads for Paris.
Père Tanguy, a Montmartre art supplier, tells Armand that Theo actually died six months after Vincent. He suggests that Armand travel to Auvers-sur-Oise and look for Dr. Paul Gachet, who housed Van Gogh after his release from an asylum, shared his love for art, and attended the funeral. Once there, Armand learns that the doctor is out on business. So he stays at the same inn that Van Gogh did during his time in the area. There he meets the temporary proprietress Adeline Ravoux, who was fond of Van Gogh and who was also surprised by his death. At her suggestion, Armand visits the local boatman, who informs him that Van Gogh kept close company with Dr. Gachet's sheltered daughter, Marguerite. When Armand visits her, Marguerite denies and is angered when Armand implies that Van Gogh's suicidal mood could have resulted from an argument with her father.
Throughout the investigation, Armand begins to suspect a local boy named René Secretan, who reportedly liked to torment Van Gogh, was in possession of a gun, and had often drunkenly waved it around town. Dr. Mazery, who examined Van Gogh, also claims that the shot must have come from a few feet away, ruling out suicide. When Armand implicates René, Marguerite confesses that she was in close, but not romantic, relations with Van Gogh, but she does not believe that René was capable of murder.
Dr. Gachet finally returns and promises to deliver Armand's letter to Theo's widow. He admits there was an argument between them – Van Gogh accused Gachet of being a coward for not pursuing his dreams, to which Gachet angrily accused Van Gogh of deteriorating Theo's health by overly depending on his brother. Gachet posits that this accusation drove Van Gogh to suicide in order to release Theo from the burden. After Armand returns home, postman Roulin later receives word from Theo's widow, Johanna, thanking Armand for returning the letter. Johanna attaches to her letter to Armand one of van Gogh's letters to her – signed, "Your loving Vincent."
- Robert Gulaczyk as Vincent van Gogh
- Jochum ten Haaf as Vincent van Gogh (voice)
- Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin
- Jerome Flynn as Paul Gachet
- Saoirse Ronan as Marguerite Gachet
- Helen McCrory as Louise Chevalier
- Chris O'Dowd as Postman Joseph Roulin
- John Sessions as Père Tanguy
- Eleanor Tomlinson as Adeline Ravoux
- Aidan Turner as Boatman
The filmmakers chose classically trained painters over traditional animators. Welchman said he wanted to avoid animators with "personalised styles" and opted for people who "were very pure oil painters". In total there were 125 painters from over twenty countries, which was more than envisioned and due to a difficulty in obtaining funding, resulting in a shorter schedule for the crew to work within. There were, in total, about 5,000 applicants, many of whom became interested after watching an online "recruitment teaser" for the project.
Van Gogh paintings informed the storyboard for the project, which were modified for the screen. These modifications ranged from simple alterations to re-imaginings incorporating different weather effects or time of day. A total of 65,000 frames were painted, but since artists painted multiple frames from the same shot on a single surface, only 1,000 paintings survived.
The film uses a form of rotoscoping. Production for the film began with a live-action cast filming against a green screen. After filming, editors composited Van Gogh paintings into scene backgrounds, and finally cut the movie together as usual. However, once the actual film was complete, they shot each individual frame onto a blank canvas, and artists painted over each image. The entire process, from the actual filming to completion of the paintings, took four years to finish. Even Welchman himself admitted, "We have definitely without a doubt invented the slowest form of filmmaking ever devised in 120 years."
The movie is considered a box office success, grossing over an estimated $42.1 million (in USD) worldwide on a budget of $5.5 million, with United States earnings totaling $6.7 million. The film has most notably grossed $3 million in South Korea, $2.1 million in Italy and $10.8 million in China.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 155 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Loving Vincent's dazzling visual achievements make this Van Gogh biopic well worth seeking out – even if its narrative is far less effectively composed." Metacritic reports a score of 62 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
A. O. Scott, writing for The New York Times, found the visual aspects of the film to be innovative stating: "the viewer also becomes accustomed to the images, and astonishment at the film's innovative, painstaking technique begins to fade. But its charm never quite wears off, for reasons summed up in the title." Actress Angourie Rice had similar sentiments, writing in an essay that “it was such a fascinating experience to witness the actors’ performances turned into van Gogh style paintings. The great thing about this film is that it also made me question what the merging of artforms meant for art, film, and everything in between.”
Giuseppe Sedia of the Krakow Post praised the impressive visual style of the movie. However, he added, "In their concern to keep the viewers interested, directors Kobiela and Welchman have built an over-narrated and spirit-dampening movie in which the preponderance of the dialogues hinders the viewers’ immersion into the violent beauty and materiality of Van Gogh’s oeuvre".
Awards and accolades
The film won the "Most Popular International Feature" award at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival. It was nominated in the Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017 for Best Original Score in an Animated Film. It won the Audience Award at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the Golden Goblet for Best Animation Film at the Shanghai International Film Festival. It won the XII Festival de Cine Inédito de Mérida (FCIM) after obtaining the highest score among the projected films and also the highest score obtained in the history of the event. On 9 December 2017, the film won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin. The film also received Best Animated Feature nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
|2017||30th European Film Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman||Won|
|Shanghai International Film Festival||Best Animation Film||Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman||Won|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017||Best Original Score||Clint Mansell||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Film||Loving Vincent||Nominated|
|2018||Vilnius International Film Festival||The Audience Award||Loving Vincent||Won|
|75th Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman||Nominated|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|22nd Satellite Awards||Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature||Loving Vincent||Nominated|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Animated Film||2nd Place|
|23rd Critics' Choice Awards||Best Animated Feature||Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman||Nominated|
|90th Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature||Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart||Nominated|
|45th Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature — Independent||Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production||Clint Mansell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dehnel||Nominated|
|71st British Academy Film Awards||Best Animated Film||Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart||Nominated|
|North Texas Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman||2nd Place|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Film||Loving Vincent||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Denver Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Art Directors Guild||Production Design in an Animated Feature||Matthew Button||Nominated|
|Golden Eagle Award (Russia)||Best Foreign Language Film||Loving Vincent||Won|
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