Loving Vincent – An Ill-Fated Life, a Mysterious Death

Loving Vincent 2

Loving Vincent 2Distributed by Madman, a unique art house biopic cinematic experience Loving Vincent is opening in cinemas around Australia on November 2, 2017, relating the remarkable story of one of the world’s great artist’s Vincent Van Gogh and his ill-feted life and even more, mysterious death.

“I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say: “he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.” 

Vincent Van Gogh said in his last letter, ‘we cannot speak other than by our paintings’ and so the producers of Loving Vincent took him at his word, deciding to let his legacy of paintings tell their artist’s story.

Loving VIncent 11Loving Vincent was created with some 65,000 paintings in oils, which were rendered by some 125 professional painters. They travelled from all corners of the globe to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland And Greece to become integral to the production and help to bring the story to life.

Initially shot as a live action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils, the final effect is a sumptuous interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent’s most famous people in his portraits, with the characters on canvas hiding the real faces of a talented group of actors.

Loving Vincent 7They include Polish theatre actor Robert Gulaczyk in his first film role as Vincent Van Gogh, Saoirse Roman as his daughter Marguerite Gachet, John Sessions as his paint supplier and Aidan Turner as the boatman from Vincent’s Banks of the River Oise painting.

Eleanor Tomlinson plays Adeline Ravoux and Jerome Flynn Doctor Gachet, Vincent’s painting of the good Doctor held the record for the world’s highest priced painting for some fourteen years, the longest yet recorded.

Loving Vincent 3

The most amazing techniques were employed to taking painting, a static medium freezing a subject in time, to seeming to be able to move through it.

The lead up time and the preparation to create such an amazing phenomenon was lengthy, with the design team spending one whole year just re-imaging Vincent’s painting into the medium of film in the first place.

They had to break through boundaries and move some of his characters out of the spaces formed by their frames and purpose, changing daytime paintings into night or changing the seasons to suit the action taking place.

Loving Vincent 8Animating the shot matching the master’s brushstrokes, ingenious use of colour and impasto was only part of the process. The painter concentrated on

Since 2011 BreakThru films the production company has been pioneering a new film production method, combining live action, computer animation, visual effects and hand-painting and they are hoping to make more films using this very special technique.

Writer director Dorota Kobiela was a graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where she received the “Minister of Culture scholarship” for special achievements in painting and graphics for four consecutive years.

Loving Vincent is Dorota’s sixth animated short film project and she originally wanted to paint it all herself, although the reality proved impossible, she still manages to paint a few shots in the film.

Loving Vincent 1When Dorota first discovered animation and film, she immediately threw herself into learning new artistic disciplines. This included guiding the world’s first, and to her knowledge still only, Stereoscopic painting animation form, which won Stereoscopic Best Short Film at the LA 3D Film Festival, 3D Stereo Media (Liege), 3D Film & Music Fest (Barcelona).

Her co-writer, director and producer Hugh Welchman of BreakThru Films first fell in love with Dorotoa and then her ilm project, and they have worked on it together ever since.

Living Vincent 5The film score has been created by the man heralded as a soundtrack genius, Clint Mansell. The Head of Painting Piotr Dominak also worked with Dorota on her ‘Little Postman’.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands into a well-connected religious family, his father being a Parson although his son had no empathy or respect for his father’s profession, declaring himself against the church much to his father’s chagrin and despair.

His eldest brother Theo Van Gogh made a fortune as Holland’s pre-eminent art dealer. Vincent had an encyclopaedic knowledge of art but was a poor people person who was never able to please anyone around him especially his mothers and sisters who blamed him when his father died prematurely of a heart attack.

When he reached a low point in his life, refusing help from his Theo who tried to help him rise above the depression he suffered from constantly, Theo suggested he should become an artist.

Loving Vincent 9So Vincent taught himself to draw from manuals his brother provided and eventually his name became integral to the world of modern art, as he inspired and motivated those around him who were helping to imagine the future of art.

Theo’s connections saw Vincent getting into the Cormon Atelier, alongside other bright young painters like Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard where he was shunned by those believed to be the more talented painters at the time. He became the most sought after friend for painters, especially those working in the new styles.

Vincent because of his brother found themselves at the centre of a group of the most interesting new painters whose party life style was severely damaging. Theo’s health and also Vincent’s work stagnated until Vincent struck out on his own leaving for the South of France in search of sunshine and blossoms, as seen in the Japanese prints he was obsessed with.

It was snowing in Arles when he arrived to capturing the melt and the blossoms bursting forth to herald the arrival of Spring.

View of Arles with Irises in foreground by Vincent Van Gogh

View of Arles with Irises in foreground by Vincent Van Gogh

This is a rich story filled with new and lasting impressions.

When asked the following questions Dorota answered;

How did you choose which part of Vincent’s life to focus on; I wrote many stories: stories taken from his life; stories that started from particular paintings; stories exclusively from his Dutch period; stories when he was deep in the bohemia of Mountmartre in Paris. But the first concrete script that emerged was set during his last days.

This resonated, and also I loved the paintings involved, and the fact they included paintings of people who he had regular contact with at the end: the mecurial Dr Gachet; his mysterious daughter, Marguerite Gachet, painted three times, yet her face always concealed; and the spirited daughter of the owner of the Inn where Vincent died, Adeline Ravoux.

Loving Vincent 10Why the title ‘Loving Vincent’?

Several reasons. This project has been a labour of love. I’ve worked on it a total of 7 years full time, my love of Vincent’s work, his letters and my respect for his struggle sustained me through those 7 years. And it wasn’t just me that had to love Vincent.

Our team of painters were painstakingly painting [65,000] frames of oil painting, spending up to 10 days painting a second of film, moving each brush-stroke frame by frame.

That takes a lot of commitment, a lot of respect for his work.

Thirdly it is a reference to how he often signs off his letters to his brother ‘Your loving Vincent’. And perhaps most importantly we only decided to take the risk of making the world’s first fully painted feature film because of how much people around the world already love Vincent.

Loving Vincent 4I hope this film will inspire people to find out more about Vincent, read his letters, see his paintings in the flesh. I hope I will have, in some small way, helped introduce Vincent to more people. I think he deserved that. I want everyone to be Loving Vincent!

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

Watch the Trailer

RBF Productions
presents in association with
Silver Reel, Sevenex Capital Partners, Polish Film Institute,
Doha Film Institute and City of Wroclaw
A BreakThru Films & Trademark Films production

Loving Vincent

Douglas Booth
Jerome Flynn
Robert Gulaczyk
Helen McCrory
Chris O’Dowd
Saoirse Ronan
John Sessions
Eleanor Tomlinson
Aidan Turner

Picture stills used with permissions, Madman



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