Loving Vincent

I can’t remember the last time I was at the movies, so to say I’m completely out of touch with what’s on right now would be an understatement. My curiosity has been piqued though by the latest Golden Globe awards as I’m a great fan of the bould Martin McDonagh and am keen to see his Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. My man McDonagh calls himself an ‘equal opportunities offender’ … gotta love it. In an interview with Yahoo News, McDonagh spoke about about the rewatchability of movies – and the blandness of today’s offer. We chose tonight to go to the flics and picked one randomly from the choice of English-language or subtitled films showing early evening. Loving Vincent. And, rather coincidentally perhaps, it has to be one of the most rewatchable movies I’ve seen. Ever.

Set a year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, the movie – in its entirety – is painted. Yep. Each scene. Fabulous stuff. And it took forever. The Guardian ran a piece on it back in October, when it first came out. The opening scene took 6 hours per frame so each second took 2 weeks.

The entire script was shot in live action in 14 days, on partial sets and in front of green screens at 3 Mills Studios in London. This footage was then handed over to a team of over 50 painters in Gdansk, who meticulously turned each frame into an individual painting. In the end, the team produced more than 65,000 frames in oil paints, on more than 850 canvases.

When each new character is introduced we see them for the first time in the position Van Gogh painted them. No wonder it all looked a tad familiar. The animation is brilliantly done and the characters look like the actors who play them. It bugged me no end because I couldn’t remember what I’d seen Chris O’Dowd in (Calvary) but I was quite chuffed to recognise Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders) and, of course, Saoirse Ronan and the gorgeous Aidan Turner (quite the nod to Ireland in this line-up).

The film is beautiful. Spellbindingly beautiful. And to think that Van Gogh started painting in his late 20s and in 7 short years painted 800 or so paintings, selling only one in his lifetime. So much about the man I didn’t know. But he’s been on my mind. At a workshop recently, the topic of how to pronounce his name came up – Van Go, Van Goff, Van Gock…. the jury was out. I checked with the BBC Pronunciation people and they advised:

At the Pronunciation Unit, we don’t expect non-native Dutch speakers to pronounce his name with a perfect Dutch accent. Instead, we recommend the established Anglicisation van GOKH (-v as in vet, -g as in get, -kh as in Scottish loch).

The things you learn.

Art is definitely featuring in my life so far this year. But more on that in the days to come. If you’ve not seen Loving Vincent, it’s worth a gander.

5 Responses

  1. Sounds wonderful. And yes the bare bones of his story that we have are amazing. I would quote his lack of success with the critics in his lifetime as proof that so much is down to convention and people relying on others to interpret art for them

    1. It’s well worth seeing and I suspect I’ll be watching it again, now that I better appreciate what went into making it. So much to see in his paintings. I never knew that when he cut off his ear, he gave it to a gal.

  2. I’d not come across this film before but I remember studying Van Gogh at school and being fascintated by his paintings. What a brilliant idea to create a whole film out of oil paintings, incorporating so many of those iconic artworks!

    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

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