Films about art and artists can only turn out one of two ways: They can turn out to be fascinating stories with well-written characters and a strong storyline; or they can be miserable failures with bad acting and a romanticization of the biographical details. So whenever a film about art or an artist comes out, I’m always very wary. Mr. Turner (2014), about the last years of the British painter J.M.W. Turner, was particularly fascinating, being that many people don’t know much about him or his work. But whenever a film is made about a famous artist, like Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, or Michelangelo Buonarroti, the filmmakers tend to dance around certain details, or focus on some things more than others. So, when I heard someone was making a film about Vincent Van Gogh, I was skeptical at first. But then I saw the trailer, and then I saw it wasn’t going to be your average biopic.
Loving Vincent is a new movie, scheduled to come out later this year. It’s technically an animated film, but the animations are not what you’d expect. For the past few years, the film has employed scores of artists to create hundreds of thousands of Van Gogh-style oil paintings as if they were frames in a stop-motion film. The film features settings, characters, and events from over one hundred of Van Gogh’s paintings, and the plot is a recreation of events found in the eight hundred letters that Van Gogh wrote throughout his life. It will be “the world’s first feature length painted animation with every shot painted with oil paints on canvas, just as Vincent himself painted.” The film features Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, and Chris O’Dowd among others to provide voices for the characters. You can click here to see the trailer at the film’s website.
Van Gogh’s life and work have been continually shrouded with mystery, and people are still making discoveries today. For instance, it was recently discovered that it was likely that Van Gogh was colorblind, and the rich colors that he used in his works were likely just plain yellows and blues if seen through his eyes. It was also possible that Van Gogh himself made up the story of him cutting off his own ear to protect his friend Paul Gauguin, who may have cut it off during an argument. Many have given different interpretations of Van Gogh, from Tony Curran in Doctor Who, to Tim Roth in Vincent & Theo; even musicians like Don McLean and Bob Dylan have given us their take on the famous painter. So it will definitely be interesting to see how the filmmakers will show Van Gogh, his life, and his work.