“It’s not a documentary, it’s a fiction film” said Loving Vincent’s Co-Director and Producer Hugh Welchman, in a recent interview. It’s no exaggeration to say that Loving Vincent is one of the most unique films of this century, so far. It is the first feature length painting animation ever made, and will document the life and tragic death of one of the world’s most revered and influential painters Vincent Van Gogh, a man whose art mixed a beautiful melancholy with innovative painting techniques.
The brainchild of classically trained painter Dorota Kobiela, whose previous projects have included Little Postman, the worlds only 3D animation, Chopin Drawings and The Flying Machine, a 3D feature film combining live action and animation.
Loving Vincent’s artistic process is an innovative one, as Hugh explained – “Painting 56,800 individual frames of oil paintings. We currently have a team of 16 painters, and we will build this up to 60 painters in the course of this year. The characters in his paintings are played by actors, and we shoot the film first on blue screen, and then composite them together with the environments of his painting. This serves as the basis for the animation.”
The beauty of Loving Vincent’s stylistics is the teams astute understanding of Van Gogh’s aesthetics, his fine brush work and powerful artistic emotions. The momentum is strong throughout the film, pirouetting seamlessly. Along with incorporating 120 of Van Gogh’s paintings, the plot is inspired and drawn from 800 of Van Gogh’s own letters.
Hugh elaborated further on the plot and what it explores – “The film follows the journey of Armand Roulin, son to Postman Roulin, Vincent’s closest friend in Arles. When his father hears that Vincent shot himself, he sends Armand to deliver a letter to Vincent’s brother Theo. Armand arrives in Paris only to find that Theo is dead too. He is drawn into the mystery of Vincent’s death, as he finds out more about Vincent’s amazing life, he really wants to know the truth about his death.”
It’s clear that Loving Vincent has taken a great deal of time and dedication by a devoted team. The narrative is a rich and emotive one, cradled by Van Gogh’s own personal style. Like looking at a dream sequence, Loving Vincent will surely enthrall many.