Loving Vincent

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Loving Vincent
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyTristan Oliver
Łukasz Żal
Edited by
Music byClint Mansell
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 12 June 2017 (2017-06-12) (Annecy)[2]
  • 22 September 2017 (2017-09-22) (United States)[1]
  • 6 October 2017 (2017-10-06) (Poland)[3]
  • 13 October 2017 (2017-10-13) (United Kingdom)
Running time
95 minutes[4]
  • Poland
  • United Kingdom
Budget$5.5 million[5]
Box office$42.1 million[6]

Loving Vincent is a 2017 experimental adult animated biographical drama film about the life of the painter Vincent van Gogh, and, in particular, about the circumstances of his death. It is the first fully painted animated feature film.[7][8] The film, written and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, is a Polish-UK co-production, funded by the Polish Film Institute, and partially through a Kickstarter campaign.[9]

First conceived as a seven-minute short film in 2008,[7] Loving Vincent was realized by Dorota Kobiela, a painter herself, after studying the techniques and the artist's story through his letters.[10]

Each of the film's 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, created using the same techniques as Van Gogh by a team of 125 artists drawn from around the globe.[8][11] The film premiered at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.[2] It won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards. The film marked Helen McCrory's final film role before her death in April 2021.[12]


One year after Vincent van Gogh's suicide, postman Joseph Roulin asks his son Armand to deliver Van Gogh's last letter to his brother, Theo. Roulin finds the death suspicious, as merely weeks earlier Van Gogh claimed through letters that his mood was calm and normal. Armand reluctantly agrees and heads for Paris.

Père Tanguy, a Montmartre art supplier, tells Armand that Theo actually died six months after Vincent. He suggests that Armand travel to Auvers-sur-Oise and look for Dr. Paul Gachet, who housed Van Gogh after his release from an asylum, shared his love for art, and attended the funeral. Once there, Armand learns that the doctor is out on business. So he stays at the same inn that Van Gogh did during his time in the area. There he meets the temporary proprietress Adeline Ravoux, who was fond of Van Gogh and who was also surprised by his death. At her suggestion, Armand visits the local boatman, who informs him that Van Gogh kept close company with Dr. Gachet's sheltered daughter, Marguerite. When Armand visits her, Marguerite denies and is angered when Armand implies that Van Gogh's suicidal mood could have resulted from an argument with her father.

Throughout the investigation, Armand begins to suspect a local boy named René Secretan, who reportedly liked to torment Van Gogh, was in possession of a gun, and had often drunkenly brandished it around town. Dr. Mazery, who examined Van Gogh, also claims that the shot must have come from a few feet away, ruling out suicide. When Armand implicates René, Marguerite confesses that she was in close, but not romantic, relations with Van Gogh, but she does not believe that René was capable of murder.

Dr. Gachet finally returns and promises to deliver Armand's letter to Theo's widow. He admits there was an argument between them – Van Gogh accused Gachet of being a coward for not pursuing his dreams, to which Gachet angrily accused Van Gogh of worsening Theo's health by overly depending on his brother. Gachet posits that this accusation drove Van Gogh to suicide in order to release Theo from the burden. After Armand returns home, postman Roulin later receives word from Theo's widow, Johanna, thanking Armand for returning the letter. Johanna attaches to her letter to Armand one of Van Gogh's letters to her – signed, "Your loving Vincent."


Directors Dorota Kobiela (center) and Hugh Welchman (right) at the film's French premiere in Paris, with actor Pierre Niney (left).

The leading cast is as follows:[13][14]


The filmmakers chose classically trained painters over traditional animators because, as Welchman said later, he wanted to avoid artists with "personalised styles" and employ people who were "very pure oil painters" instead. A total of 125 painters from over 20 countries travelled to Poland to work on the project following selection from around 5,000 applicants, many of whom responded to an online "recruitment teaser". The number of participants was greater than originally envisaged, which meant that due to difficulties in obtaining funding the task had to be completed in a correspondingly shorter period of time.[8][15][16]

Creation of the film storyboard was informed by Van Gogh's paintings, sometimes with only minor alterations to the latter, but on occasions more complex transformations involving changes to the weather or time of day were carried out. Since artists typically painted over frames once they had been photographed, of the 65,000 produced during the course of the project only 1,000 survived.[15]

The film uses a form of rotoscoping. Production for the film began with a live-action cast filming against a green screen. After filming, editors composited Van Gogh paintings into scene backgrounds, and finally cut the film together as usual. However, once the actual film was complete, they shot each individual frame onto a blank canvas, and artists painted over each image. In all the project took 6 years to complete,[8] and in describing the laborious process involved Welchman noted that the film's creators had "definitely without a doubt invented the slowest form of filmmaking ever devised in 120 years."[17]


Box office[edit]

The movie is considered a box office success, grossing over an estimated $42.1 million (in USD) worldwide on a budget of $5.5 million, with United States earnings totaling $6.7 million. The film has most notably grossed $3 million in South Korea, $2.1 million in Italy and $10.8 million in China.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 162 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Loving Vincent's dazzling visual achievements make this Van Gogh biopic well worth seeking out – even if its narrative is far less effectively composed."[19] Metacritic reports a score of 62 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20]

A. O. Scott, writing for The New York Times, found the visual aspects of the film to be innovative, stating: "the viewer also becomes accustomed to the images, and astonishment at the film's innovative, painstaking technique begins to fade. But its charm never quite wears off, for reasons summed up in the title."[21] Actress Angourie Rice had similar sentiments, writing in an essay that “it was such a fascinating experience to witness the actors’ performances turned into Van Gogh style paintings. The great thing about this film is that it also made me question what the merging of artforms meant for art, film, and everything in between.”[22]

Giuseppe Sedia of the Krakow Post praised the impressive visual style of the movie. However, he added, "In their concern to keep the viewers interested, directors Kobiela and Welchman have built an over-narrated and spirit-dampening movie in which the preponderance of the dialogues hinders the viewers’ immersion into the violent beauty and materiality of Van Gogh’s oeuvre".[23]

Awards and accolades[edit]

The film won the "Most Popular International Feature" award at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival.[24] It was nominated in the Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017[25] for Best Original Score in an Animated Film. It won the Audience Award at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival[26] and the Golden Goblet for Best Animation Film at the Shanghai International Film Festival.[27] It won the XII Festival de Cine Inédito de Mérida (FCIM) after obtaining the highest score among the projected films and also the highest score obtained in the history of the event.[28] On 9 December 2017, the film won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin.[29] The film also received Best Animated Feature nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.[30][31]

Year Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2017 30th European Film Awards Best Animated Feature Film Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman Won [32]
Columbus Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Loving Vincent Runner-up [33]
Shanghai International Film Festival Best Animation Film Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman Won [34]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017 Best Original Score Clint Mansell Nominated [25]
Florida Film Critics Circle Best Animated Film Loving Vincent Nominated [35]
2018 Vilnius International Film Festival The Audience Award Loving Vincent Won [37]
75th Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman Nominated [31]
St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Nominated [38]
Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated [39]
22nd Satellite Awards Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Loving Vincent Nominated [40]
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Animated Film 2nd Place [41]
23rd Critics' Choice Awards Best Animated Feature Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman Nominated [43]
90th Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Nominated [30]
45th Annie Awards Best Animated Feature — Independent Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Nominated [44]
Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production Clint Mansell Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dehnel Nominated
71st British Academy Film Awards Best Animated Film Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Nominated [45]
St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Nominated [38]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Film Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Won [46]
Georgia Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart Nominated [47]
Art Directors Guild Production Design in an Animated Feature Matthew Button Nominated [48]
Golden Eagle Award (Russia) Best Foreign Language Film Loving Vincent Won [49]


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  4. ^ "Loving Vincent (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
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  8. ^ a b c d "Łukasz Żal – Lumière Award and Honorary Fellowship". The RPS Journal. Vol. 159, no. 9. Bristol: Royal Photographic Society. September 2019. pp. 614–620. ISSN 1468-8670.
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  11. ^ "How do you paint 65,000 pictures like Van Gogh?". BBC. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Helen McCrory death: Actor dies from cancer, aged 52". The Independent. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  13. ^ Waring, Olivia (23 March 2016). "This animated Van Gogh movie rendered entirely in paint looks unbelievably stunning". Metro. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
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  24. ^ "Indian Horse Wins Coveted VIFF Super Channel People's Choice Award" (Press release). Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society. 13 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Hollywood Music in Media Awards Announces Nominees in Film, TV, & Video Game Music". Shoot Online. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
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  27. ^ "Winners Of 20th Golden Goblet Awards". siff.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  28. ^ "'Loving Vincent' gana el XII Festival de Cine Inédito de Mérida con la mayor puntuación de la historia del certamen". 20minutos.es (in Spanish). 25 November 2017.
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  30. ^ a b "2018 | Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". www.oscars.org. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
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  35. ^ "'The Shape of Water' Leads 2017 Florida Film Critics Awards Nominations". Florida Film Critics Awards. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  36. ^ "'Dunkirk' Wins Top Prizes in 2017 Florida Film Critics Awards". Florida Film Critics Awards. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  37. ^ Blaney, Martin (3 April 2018). "'Winter Brothers' triumphs at Vilnius Film Festival". Screen Daily. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  38. ^ a b Amidi, Amid (12 December 2017). "2017 StLFCA Annual Award Winners". St. Louis Film Association. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  39. ^ Brown, Tracy (7 December 2017). "The 2017 WAFCA Awards". Washington D.C. Film Critics Association. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  40. ^ Pond, Steve (28 November 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
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  43. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards: 'The Shape of Water' Leads With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  44. ^ Hipes, Patrick (4 December 2017). "Annie Awards: Disney/Pixar's 'Coco' Tops Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  45. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (9 January 2018). "'The Shape Of Water' Leads BAFTA Film Awards Nominations – Full List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  46. ^ "2017 AWFJ EDA Award Nominees". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. 3 January 2018. Archived from the original on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  47. ^ "2017 Awards". Georgia Film Critics Association. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  48. ^ "Art Directors Guild Awards: 'Dunkirk,' 'Shape of Water,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  49. ^ Золотой Орел 2017 [Golden Eagle 2017]. Ruskino.ru (in Russian).

External links[edit]