If you’re like my family, at some point during the holiday season you will all sit around the television or load into the mini van and watch a movie. Usually it’s a Christmas classic or a newly released Christmas movie designed to get you in the holiday spirit. But why not mix it up a little this year and add in an art film? I think I have just the one.
Loving Vincent is an animated film about the last days of Van Gogh. It runs 94 minutes and is PG-13, so leave the really little ones with the babysitter. The film took 7 years to complete, employing 125 classically trained artists painting 65,000 individually painted oil frames! The movie takes place after Van Gogh’s death and is told through the eyes of people that knew him in his last days in Auvers-sur-Oise in northern France. The plot is pretty thread-bare, consisting of the main character learning about Van Gogh and exploring the mystery surrounding his death (was it a suicide or murder). But this is not a documentary; this is a visual tribute to Van Gogh and a celebration of his art and spirit, and it serves it’s purpose wonderfully.
I recently saw this film in Austin with my art club students. I had been waiting for this movie for years (literally) and was not disappointed. Loving Vincent is quiet, heartfelt, sincere, and visually mesmerizing. I loved watching his paintings come to life and move with each new brush stroke. It’s like watch an invisible painter create thousands of new paintings right before your eyes! As the movie ended, I was moved to tears, but I wasn’t sure what my students would think of such a movie (after all, there were no exciting plot twists, explosions, or sexy stars). But when I looked over they also had tears in their eyes. They loved it!
Unfortunately, the movie is no longer showing in Austin, but there are still many other cities where it is showing in the U.S. The DVD is also available on Amazon. If you’d like to learn more about the movie, the subsequent exhibition, or purchase paintings and prints from the movie, you can visit their website here.
Overall, I give this movie an 8 out of 10. It isn’t going to make you an expert on Van Gogh. It won’t reveal any new information about his mysterious death. It won’t keep you on your toes with witty dialogue or a riveting plot. But what it will do is tug at your heartstrings and give you a new appreciation for Van Gogh and his art.
“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” – Vincent van Gogh
(featured painting: The Red Vineyard at Arles, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, rumored to be the only painting officially sold during his lifetime.)