Loving Vincent reviewed by Marcus Hobson


Everyone likes to claim that they are the first at something, and film makers are no exception. ‘Loving Vincent’ is the world’s first full painted feature film, although you will find it in the animated film categories at the BAFTA and Academy Awards.

Very simply it is the best film I have seen in years. Perhaps you have to be a big Van Gogh fan to feel that way, but I thought it was unique, beautiful and moving. A team of 125 different painters were responsible for painting all the scenes. Expect to see a flood of Van Gogh forgeries appear on the market very soon. Seriously though, the film is composed of so many scenes from Van Gogh’s work that you keep recognising paintings as they flash past. They have used real actors and part animated them as well as painting them to look like some of the familiar faces that appear often in Van Gogh’s portraits. Café scenes from his paintings become action settings for the film.

Doctor Gachet by Van Gogh

The doctor who treated Van Gogh for his mental troubles, called Doctor Gachet, appears quite late in the film. We cut to him sitting next to a table and I gasped because the painting was so familiar and there was an actor looking just like the painting. That is the thing with this film, you keep thinking how realistic everything looks and you forget that the team of artists are simply copying the original paintings.

Postman Joseph Roulin

There is a plot and a story. Postman Joseph Roulin has a letter from the now dead Vincent which he feels should be returned to Vincent’s brother Theo. So Roulin sends his son Armand to track down Theo in Paris, only to find that he too has committed suicide. Attempts to find a recipient of the letter take Armand to the village of Dr Gachet and the place where Vincent died. There he uncovers many aspects of the suicide that don’t add up, as well as hints of a relationship between Vincent and Gachet’s daughter (played by the brilliant Saoirse Ronan).

Saoirse Ronan plays Marguerite Gachet

Vincent is supposed to have shot himself in the stomach, but some believe that was not possible.

There are so many familiar scenes in the film, all lifted from one painting or another, sometimes just a glimpse. The Church at Anvers, for example, is one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings, but it appears for just a second or two in the film as part of a passing piece of scenery. That is the joy of the film, enjoying the technique and the talent of the painters as well as the film at the same time. At one point Vincent plunges his hands into a

bowl of water in his room. Watching the ripples slowly clear to leave his reflection behind is one of the most stunning pieces of animation that I have ever seen.

The church at Auvers – my own favourite

A DVD  is available which I will certainly buy so that I can enjoy the pictures all over again.

Many of the illustrations are taken from the definitive biography, “Van Gogh The Life” by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Published in 2011 and at around 900 pages it will tell you everything you need to know about Vincent.

‘Van Gogh The Life’ – all you need to know

Marcus Hobson is the ARTbop Contributions Editor. He is a writer and reviewer, as well as a passionate book collector. Many of his stories feature themes of art and artists and he is married to an aspiring painter. Marcus lives at the foot of the Kaimai Ranges near to Katikati.

Marcus Hobson is a regular contributor to ARTbop, you will find a wide-range of articles in the ARTbop archives. Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty residents in particular will enjoy his contribution “Thoughts on our new museum by Marcus Hobson”   http://artbop.co.nz/thoughts-new-museum-marcus-hobson/

ARTbop has included a YouTube video we know you will enjoy.

ARTbop (in conjuction with Dhaivat Mehta’s incantation poetry consortium and the Black Sheep Bar & Grill, Whakamarama) has organised alchemy, informal conversations and spoken word poetry.   Our next gathering at the Black Sheep is Wednesday 9th May 2018:  come along.



Join us every second Wednesday of the month,

6.00pm to 8.30pm

     at the

   Black Sheep Bar & Grill

Cnr SH2 and Plummers Point Road, Whakamarama

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810

Performance poet Dhaivat Mehta will facilitate alchemy, (Image Lee Switzer)



the Bay of Plenty’s creative arts magazine!

           read us online anywhere, anytime!


And don’t forget the next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of  May 2018.  The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Bar & Grill complex.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. And we’ll have a Pamper (think delicious treats) you can wiin.  If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity you can contact us at aaafair17@gmail.com

We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road. 














About Author

Leave A Reply