Loving Vincent, a tribute to the greatest artist of the era from another great artist, emerges to be a harbinger of the concept that art presides technology. In an era where an animation movie is synonymous with depiction of cutting-edge technological expertise, this striking movie, the very first and unprecedented painting-animation feature film, taking a step back in technology (CG, NPR, or any other complex mechanics) has surpassed all the styles of movie-making.
The movie alienates a story about a diamond whose life was spent lying, ignored and rejected, beneath the bleak pile of coals. That diamond, Vincent Van Gogh, persecuted by life and rewarded by afterlife, had no inkling in his whole breath that posthumously his name would be sought as the most influential artist of Western art. Hit by circumstances, kept aloof from emotional support, unrecognized in work, rejected in love, Vincent had got a great deal of troubles at full length of his life. Finding solace in paintings, Vincent kept himself occupied with exploring various art forms and techniques. Although post-life he was glorified as the most illustrious Dutch Post-Impressionist painter and the contributor of the modern art, he was never bestowed with a taste of success alive. Though he was on the height of productivity during his tenure, he lost all hopes and decided to put an end to his life by self-inflicting bullet. His sudden death and the inherent mystery – suicide vs murder – caused a stir and became a promising subject for investigation.
To shed a light on Vincent’s tragic life story and to demystify the event of his death, his ardent follower, the Polish animator Dorota Kobiela, a graduate from the Warsaw Fine Art Academy, pitched her idea of a painting-animated film to the Oscar-winning producer Hugh Welchman. The idiosyncrasies of the concept and novelty of the story prompted Welchman to set his foot along with Kobiela. The idea was to let the paintings, the paintings depicting Vincent’s style, do the talking.
And thus the blueprint of the undertaking was laid out.
How was the idea of the movie conceived?
Dorota Kobiela, who has have been inspired by Vincent Van Gogh, wanted to pursue a painting-animation movie based on the life of her role model. The letters exchanged between Vincent and his brother Theo (and some other family members) became the foundation of the storyline. Kobiela’s knowledge gathered during her Master’s thesis on Vincent’s life also acted as a primer for information.
How the blueprint of the massive project look like?
The script decided the film to be 90 minutes long. The calculation arrived at an estimation of 12 paintings per second in order to turn the static paintings into a motion picture, which further gives us a total number of paintings required – 64,800. That is an enormous amount. That required the hands of the world-class painters – not one, not two, but a total of 120 renowned painters – who were roped in from varied geographies. These artists were trained rigorously for weeks to emulate the style of Vincent’s paintings. They were supposed to adopt themselves to the style and had to train their mind to produce a series of paintings suiting the sequence of a motion picture.
Once the artists were trained enough, they were given the outline sketches which were to be filled with colors and styles that of Vincent’s. To lay the foundation of the outline, the performance of real-time actors, filmed on a green screen, were captured on the computer screen. Their actions were converted into blackout lines which were then projected onto the artists’ boards. A finished painting was then photographed and sent for editing. The editing processes were followed by recurrent reviews, feedback, and reworks.
Who are the actors?
The story of Vincent is enacted by brilliant actors like Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, and other bounty of talents as listed in IMDB. The selection of actors were done based on the closest resemblance to the characters depicted in Vincent’s 120 portraits.
How did the funding pour?
After working for 1 year with just 4 painters, Welchman and Kobiela prepared their sample trailer for the production company Trademarks Films to seek funding. Ivan Mactaggart and David Parfitt of Trademarks initially hesitated to fund another tech-hungry animation film, but after watching the sample footage of the extraordinarily distinguished hand-made painting-animation instead of computer-designed art they changed their mind and extended their hands to support. The production house showered the funding of $5.5m and also helped to craft the script and on boarding of the star casts. Another financial shields for Welchman and Kobiela’s dream are Polish Film Institute for project development, Kickstarter for onboarding painters, Cinema Management Group for film selling, and many others.
Things you should know about Vincent Van Gogh – the protagonist of Loving Vincent
His life in nutshell
Vincent’s brief 37 years of timeline expands from 30-Mar-1853 to 29-Jul-1890. The dexterous Dutch Post-impressionist and the most influential painter of Western art, Vincent had created almost 2100 artworks including 860 oil paintings and 30 self-portraits. His subject matters included portraits and static life such as still-life, peasant laborers, portraits, self-portraits, olive trees, wheat fields, sunflowers and likes. His contribution towards spawning the concept of modern art cannot be dismissed. Being the victim of depression and ferocious luck throughout his life, he kept making rounds to numerous doctors to keep his mental health in check. Emotionally dejected by his parents and love, Vincent confided himself in two things – his paintings and his younger brother Theo with whom he kept in touch via letters. Those 800 letters later became the seed for the story of the iconic movie ‘Loving Vincent’. During the last couple of years before his death, Vincent’s productivity was at peak. Most of his celebrated paintings are the outcome of those time alone. Little did he know that he was a tad away from the recognition and fame and in this ignorance he took his own life by self-inflicting the bullet (an alleged fact).
What was his painting style?
The most famous post-impressionist artist, Vincent had set himself a class apart by his exotic style of brush strokes and the usage of thick, bold, and dramatic colors. His predilection for bright colors and bold palettes were considered evolutionary. His style of applying thick coating of paint on the canvas was known as impasto. The thick layer of color depicting clear visual of his brush movement rendered an unusual texture on the painting which worked miraculously under different shades of light. His Starry Nights and Wheat Field with Cypresses are the roses of impasto style. His paintings housed multitude of techniques such as broken brush stroke of Impressionist, Pointillist technique of Neo-Impressionist, Japanese prints (dark outline of the subjects), etc. He kept experimenting and evolving with his techniques to complement his subject matters and theme – starting with drawing and sketches, moving onto dark and melancholy colors, shifting slowly from light palettes to bold palettes and gradually transitioning from visually inspired art to out-of-memory art.
“Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully.” — Vincent Van Gogh
How did he become so famous posthumous?
Although Vincent’s electrifying creations had a sheer contribution to his success, but it was his brother Theo (Theodorous Van Gogh) and Theo’s wife Jo (Johanna Gesina Van Gogh) who worked immensely for getting his arts to the world. After Theo’s death, Jo kept working alone to put Vincent’s paintings on exhibitions. After a while, Vincent’s magical creations marinated with his piercing life story slowly took off the ground and touched millions of hearts.
Vincent Van Gogh was a supreme artist who dared to live on his own terms and own creativity no matter what pain it inflicted. His arts changed the definition of art itself and kept inspiring billions of artists. Loving Vincent is an ode to that statuesque maestro. Similar to Vincent’s artwork, this movie too has set a mark not only in the world of film-making and animation but also in the realm of creativity and imagination.
Keep a tab on this wonderful piece of art at http://lovingvincent.com/
Here is a small gallary from the sea of Vincent’s artworks:
Before you go:
Shweta Kumari Sharma
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