Vincent Van Gogh was the most famous post-impressionist artist of the 19th century. His expressive artworks and use of bold colours, which were quite unorthodox at that time, vastly contributed to the groundwork of modern art even though he was never revered in his lifetime.
His life and work subjects have intrigued people worldwide for more than a century, earning places in celluloid in the past few decades focusing on different stages of his life.
Loving Vincent, released in 2017, focused on the after stages of Van Gogh’s death and searched for the reason behind it.
The making process of the movie is unique - the whole film is a compilation of 65,000 oil paintings drawn by 125 artists in almost a decade, making it the first fully painted animated feature film ever.
The paintings are based on 120 of Van Gogh’s well-known paintings, seemingly giving a well-deserved tribute even in the film’s creation.
Although Van Gogh remains the movie’s soul, the real-life subjects from his Roulin Family series run the show.
Armand Roulin, son of the Roulin Patriarch, is tasked by his father Joseph to deliver the last letter of Van Gogh to his brother Theo, one year after Gogh’s death. Joseph does this not only to respect his friend’s last wish but also to confirm his suspicions about his death.
The iconic yellow jacket-wearing Armand goes to Paris to complete his father’s task but gets into a lengthy investigation - why would Van Gogh kill himself? What if this was not a suicide?
Armand arrives at his destination just to know that Theo died six months earlier. A suggestion from one of Van Gogh’s friends prompts him to visit the city where the painter spent his last days, Auvers-Sur-Oise.
Knowing Van Gogh’s struggle and artistic ability, Armand decides to see the bottom of the unnatural death. But he never gets a common answer from anyone; all acquaintances and friends of Van Gogh here seem to have different opinions about his last days.
There is no solid evidence to rule out the cause of suicide; the actual incident is left for the audience open to interpretation.
Van Gogh’s artwork is critically acclaimed as one of the most prolific artists of the 19th century. As a lifelong sufferer of depression, he found a way to portray his pain in art with a great passion that no artist ever did before.
He is so unique in using his sadness to depict the joy and magnificence of the world in bright colours that perhaps no artist will ever draw like him. His art showed happiness, but his sadness engulfed him enough to take his own life, which bewilders every art enthusiast to this day.
Loving Vincent can be considered one of the expressions of the search to satisfy that curiosity.