Van Gogh Brought to Life in ‘Loving Vincent’

By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter

The world’s first-fully painted feature film is coming to the Getty Villa.

Written and directed by Polish animator Dorota Kobiela, “Loving Vincent” explores the life and unusual death of Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh though his own medium.

The film, which took seven years to make, is comprised of thousands of oil paintings that come together to offer viewers a substantial, yet sometimes fictional, understanding of the artist.

As with his work, the truth behind van Gogh’s motivations are often left up to interpretation, yet Kobiela still seems to get much of the artist’s documented life correctly until the story devolves into a murder mystery that examines the suicide of van Gogh through the film’s narrating detective, fashioned after one of the artist’s portrait subjects.

No such detective existed when van Gogh walked into a wheatfield alone on July 27, 1890, and shot himself in the chest. But as a plot device the inaccuracy is easily forgiven.

(One of van Gogh’s final paintings depicted an extensive stretch of wheatfield that lies under a turbulent sky filled with crows—a backdrop of which van Gogh himself said was meant to convey a sense of “sadness and extreme loneliness.”)

Dramatizations aside, the film incorporates plenty of authentic traces of the painter that should satisfy both art historians and those who are new to van Gogh’s legacy.

Previewing at the Getty Villa on Saturday, Sept. 9, Kobiela will be in attendance for a special audience Q&A session directly following the film.

Tickets are free with advanced reservation at getty.edu.