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Editors Note: The below taken from press information on the forthcoming 'Loving Vincent' painted film, set for general release on the 13th October in the UK. It looks like it could be one of, if not the biggest art movies of all time, and anyone with a remote interest in the arts, would be doing themselves a disservice by not seeing this movie.


Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 13.44.08Vincent (Robert Gulaczyk) in colour

LOVING VINCENT, the world’s first fully painted feature film, is written & directed by Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, and produced by Poland’s BreakThru Films & UK’s Trademark Films.

The film brings the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every frame of the film, totalling around 65,000, is an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professional oil-painters who travelled from around the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production. As remarkable as Vincent’s brilliant paintings, is his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death.

No other artist has attracted more attention than Vincent van Gogh. Variously labelled a martyr, a lustful satyr, a madman, a genius and a layabout, the real Vincent is at once revealed in his letters, and obscured by myth and time. Vincent himself said in his last letter: ‘We cannot speak other than by our paintings’. We take him at his word and let the paintings tell the real story of Vincent van Gogh.

Loving Vincent was first shot as a live action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils. The final effect is an interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent’s famous portraits, and the performance of the painting animators, bringing these characters into the medium of paint. Loving Vincent stars famous faces to match the famous paintings they portray:

Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending, Noah) stars as Armand Roulin

Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, Jack the Giant Slayer) is Adeline Ravoux;

Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) plays Doctor Gachet (the painting ‘Portrait of Doctor Gachet’ held the record for the world’s highest priced painting for fourteen years, the longest time ever);

Saoirse Ronan (Academy Award nominee for Brooklyn & Atonement) plays his daughter Marguerite Gachet;

Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd) is Postman Joseph Roulin;

John Sessions (Filth, Gangs of New York) is Vincent’s paint supplier, Pere Tanguy;

Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Poldark) is the Boatman from Vincent’s Banks of the River Oise painting;

Helen McCrory (Harry Potter) plays Louise Chevalier, house-keeper to Doctor Gachet;and introducing theatre actor Robert Gulaczyk in his first film role as Vincent van Gogh.

Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 13.18.48

France, Summer 1891. Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), a feckless and directionless young man, is given a letter by his father, Postman Joseph Roulin (Chris O’Dowd), to hand-deliver to Paris. He is to deliver it to the brother of his father’s friend Vincent van Gogh who, they have just heard, killed himself. Armand is none too pleased with the mission: he is embarrassed by his father’s association with Vincent, a foreign painter who cut off his ear and was committed to the local asylum.

In Paris there is no trace of the brother. Armand’s search leads him to the paint supplier, Pere Tanguy (John Sessions), who tells him that the brother died shortly after Vincent, apparently destroyed by the death of his older brother.

Pere recounts how the brother helped Vincent on this incredible transformation from a down-and-out at 28 who had failed at three careers and was living in a barn in the mining district of the Borinage in Belgium with a bunch of books and no idea what to do next, to the new artistic sensation of Paris at the time of his death 10 years later. After hearing this story Armand believes he may have misjudged his father’s friend, and really wants to know why, after such struggle, Vincent chose the moment of impending success to take his life: Pere has no answer to this.

Armand journeys on to Vincent’s final destination, the quiet village of Auvers-sur-Oise, an hour outside Paris, to meet Doctor Paul Gachet (Jerome Flynn), Vincent’s doctor in his final weeks, to find the answer. The doctor is away for couple of days. Armand resolves to wait, during which time the villagers tell him different theories of why Vincent took his life and who is to blame.

While in Auvers-sur-Oise Armand stays at the Ravoux Inn, where Vincent stayed for the last 10 weeks of his life, and where on 29th July 1890 he died of a bullet wound to his abdomen. Here Armand meets the Inn-keeper’s daughter, Adeline Ravoux (Eleanor Tomlinson). While he awaits Doctor Gachet’s return, Armand also interviews Doctor Gachet’s housekeeper, Louise Chevalier (Helen McCrory), the Doctor’s daughter, Marguerite Gachet (Saoirse Ronan), and by the river where Vincent often spent his days he meets the Boatman (Aidan Turner).

Armand gets the sense that the truth is being hidden from him, and feels like a pawn in overlapping village feuds. Armand is determined to root out the truth, for his father, for Vincent’s memory, and for himself. A run in with the local police, an unexpected encounter with a second Doctor, and finally his much-anticipated meeting with the mercurial Doctor Gachet, lead to unexpected and heart-rending revelations, but also to Armand understanding and appreciating the passionate and surprising life of Vincent van Gogh.


Loving Vincent Oil – Painting Animation technique


Despite the film being animated, all of the characters in Loving Vincent are played by actors. These actors worked either on sets specially constructed to look like Van Gogh paintings, or against green-screens, with the Van Gogh paintings being composited in, along with computer generated animation, after the shoot. The live action shoot took place at Three Mills Studios in London and CETA studio in Wroclaw. The experienced film crew included cinematographers Lukasz Zal (Oscar nominated for Ida) and Tristan Oliver (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Chicken Run). The footage from the live action shoot then becomes the reference footage for the painting-animators.

Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 13.27.05Adeline Ravoux (Eleanor Tomlinson) folding napkins at the Ravoux Inn

The art form of film is different from painting. Painting is one particular moment in time, frozen. Film is fluid, seeming to move through space and time. So, prior to and during the live action shoot the painting design team spent a year re-imagining Vincent’s painting into the medium of film. There are 94 Vincent paintings that feature in a form very close to the original, and a further 31 paintings featured either substantially or partially.

Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 13.28.30Arles Cafe Terrace at Night

Vincent’s paintings come in different shapes and sizes, so the design painters had to work out how to best show these paintings within the frame set by the cinema screen. This required breaking outside the frames of Vincent’s paintings, while still retaining the feel and inspiration of Vincent’s originals. They also had to work out how to deal with ‘invasions’, where a character painted in one style, comes into another Vincent painting with a different style. Sometimes they must also, for story purposes, change daytime paintings into night time paintings, or re-imagine paintings which were done in Autumn or Winter, for summer when the journey of the film takes place.

The Character Design Painters specialized in re-imagining our actors as their famous portraits, so that they would retain their own features and at the same time recognizably take on the look and feeling of their character in painting form. There were 377 paintings painted during the design painting process.

Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 13.30.23Landscape Starry Night over the Rhone

The painting animators then use the reference footage, and paint over this with reference to the style (brushstrokes, colours, impasto) set by the design paintings to paint the first frame of their shot on canvas, sized 67cm by 49cm. They then animate the shot by re-painting, matching the brushstrokes, colour and impasto of their previous frame, for all parts of the shot that are moving. At the end they are left with a painting of the last frame of the shot. Each frame is recorded with a Canon 6D digital stills camera at 6k resolution.

The Painting Animators work in the Painting Animation Work Stations (PAWS) designed by BreakThru Films over the course of 2 years during the development of the project. PAWS allow the painter to focus as much attention as possible on painting and animating without being concerned about lighting and technology, and allow for consistency across the photographs being taken in 97 PAWS in 3 studios in 2 countries. 12 of these high-resolution photographs make up each second of the film. After the photographing of the frames of painting there is simply some flicker correction, as the light-bulbs change temperature during the animation, and some colour correction to balance between shots, and that’s it. So what the audience will be seeing is [65,000] high resolution photographs of actual oil-paintings.  


Loving Vincent will have its UK Premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on 9th October and is released in UK and Irish Cinemas on 13 October.

For additional information, see the website:


You may also like to read:

*  After Vincent’s Death

*  In Van Gogh's Foot Steps

*  Two Stolen Van Gogh Paintings Recovered After 14 Years


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