I finally got around to watching the 2017 animated film Loving Vincent (nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature) today. It packed quite the emotional wallop! I’m not typically a person who cries easily…or at all – while watching movies, but today, let’s just say I channeled my mama a bit! She is a notorious crier while watching movies. Me? Not so much!
The DVD cover of Loving Vincent
The movie chronicles the events happening both after VanGogh’s death and the events leading up to his death by (apparent) suicide in 1890 at the age of 37. Driving the plot is protagonist Armand Roulin’s quest to deliver Vincent VanGogh’s last letter, which was written to his brother, Theo. In a plot twist, the letter is undeliverable, since Theo has also since died (the movie insinuates he died of complications of syphilis). Theo died six months after his brother Vincent.
As for Roulin, he is the son of a postman, Joseph Roulin, whom is depicted in several of VanGogh’s paintings. He’s a pretty cool looking bearded dude who wears a postman uniform (I kind of like uniforms)! The postman’s son, however, is kind of a ne’er do well – a drunken layabout, though he does pursue the case of VanGogh’s demise in a pretty determined fashion. He goes around the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, interviewing multiple people who had interacted with VanGogh in the weeks before his death, and in particular, on the day of his actual death (July 29, 1890). The storyline even dabbles with the theory that maybe VanGogh didn’t kill himself – and that the gunshot wound was NOT self-inflicted. The fact that the shotgun bullet wound up lodged in his belly raised questions for Roulin, whom said that such a wound would have to have been the result of a point-blank shot, and that it would have been difficult for VanGogh to reach the trigger to fire the weapon. Other instances Roulin pointed out in the film raised questions about the suicide ruling as well. But you can read the wikipedia synopsis to learn more about that if you like! This blog is not intended to be a synopsis of this film!
Joseph Roulin, aka “The Postman.”
What’s really cool about this movie is that the whole story is told using paintings, all of which were hand-drawn in VanGogh’s style by a team of 100 different artists. So it was really kind of like seeing his paintings – and all of the now iconic people he painted – come to life.
To make a very offhand comment, this movie would probably be REALLY cool to watch while stoned! Not drunk, mind you – (oh the humanity) – but baked out of your mind on some good Ganja. I’m not saying y’all should go out and do this, by any means! 😉 But if you do, you will probably enjoy this flick on a higher level than I did just chilling on the couch on a Monday afternoon!
I went into watching the movie knowing that this tragic figure Vincent VanGogh would die an untimely death. I’ve always been fascinated with him – I’ve read two different biographies of his life, and I attended the Detroit Institute of Art’s exhibit of his works in 1999 with my mom. “Vincent” is also one of my favorite male names. But knowing how the story would ultimately play out didn’t make it any less of an emotional experience! It all came to a head during the end credits, when the Don McLean song Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) , was performed in the movie’s end credits by singer Lianne La Havas. Here come the waterworks!
Though better known for his #1 hit single American Pie, Don McLean’s single Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) hit #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1972. He was inspired to write the song after reading a biography of the artist. My mom used to play McLean’s records frequently (which is an important plot point).
Yup. Hearing this song in the end credits is what f—ing did me in. I was keeping everything together emotionally right up until that point and really enjoying the movie! That’s because the song took me back to my own childhood, when I would hear my mom play it on the record player. I can’t explain the whys, the wherefores or the how-comes. It just was. And it reminded me of how human I really am…
Maybe VanGogh was too big for the world. Maybe the world was too big for him. Maybe he was born in the wrong time. Imagine if he could have gotten real treatment for his ailments in his day and he wound up living a long, fulfilling life – happily spending his days painting in cornfields while crows flew around overhead. Obviously this was NOT his fate!
It’s not unusual for me to have emotional reactions to songs! Sometimes thing like this will hit me completely out of left field. With this, at least there was some buildup!
Here are some of the song’s lyrics:
Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
A silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
Now I need to watch something funny to counteract all of this! How about Dodgeball – A True Underdog Story?