65,000 frames, 853 oil paintings, and 90 design paintings all come together into 1 hour and 35 minutes of exploration into the mind of Vincent van Gogh.
Set approximately one year after the unexpected death of Van Gogh, Loving Vincent, directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, follows the path of Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), a model for several of Van Gogh’s portraits, as he attempts to deliver Vincent’s last letter to his brother, Theo Van Gogh. Armand quickly becomes a kind of pseudo-detective, setting himself upon discovering what caused Vincent’s sudden death. Wading through rumors of murder, suicide, and mental illness, Armand struggles with the question, “How does a man go from calm to suicidal in two weeks?”
The film devotes itself to looking at the world through Vincent’s eyes. It inserts not just Van Gogh’s friends and family into his paintings, but the viewer as well. Sitting with Armand inside Cafe Terrace at Night, the oil painted medium swirls and warps the screen with each shot, finally stopping on instantly recognizable Van Gogh paintings. With all the motion involved in the animation, the screen is almost chaotic as globs of paint come alive and move across the screen. The words of Vincent’s doctor (Jerome Flynn) come to mind: “Great artists are not peaceful souls.” Indeed as Armand interviews each of Vincent’s friends and relations, he realizes that maybe he has gotten Vincent wrong this whole time. Loving Vincent poses a new question, bending along with the paint in Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows. “You want to know so much about his death. But what do you know of his life?” Vincent himself would probably be proud of the work these artists have done to memorialize his brilliant career. I came as a relatively ignorant Van Gogh enthusiast, but I left loving Vincent.
Dietrich Balsbaugh is a sophomore studying English and mathematics.