Thursday, January 11, 2018

For 'Loving Vincent', Substance and Style May Be the Same Thing

If nothing else, Loving Vincent is worth a watch because it’s the first of its kind – a fully painted animated feature film – and it’s probably the most beautiful, poignant tribute to Vincent van Gogh since Don McLean’s masterful ballad “Vincent.”  It explores the tragic of life of the painter, as the son of his friend Postman Roulin looks into the curious nature of his death.

Last year, I read a review of this film that it’s more “style over substance.”  For the reviewer, “substance” basically equates to the narrative.  Well, there’s some validity in that.  Maybe.  The film indeed doesn’t have a notably strong story and pacing, but it’s by no means tedious and uninteresting – at least, in my opinion.  I think the narrative has a genuinely emotional resonating touch.

Furthermore, I may even argue that, considering the nature of this film, its substance may very much be found in its style.
The gorgeous animation of the film mimics van Gogh’s technique, and several scenes, characters, and elements are based on his paintings – either presented as they are or with alterations in varying degrees – as the entire storyboard was built up from them.  The film is made up of 65,000 frames and each one of them is an oil painting from canvas – a feat performed by a team of 125 painters (that means a strenuous job of 520 paintings each!).  Of those 65,000 paintings, only 1,000 survived from the process of transferring them into film.

In the end, being invested on Loving Vincent almost solely relies on whether the charm of the dazzling, groundbreaking visuals sustains for you or it fades somewhere during its runtime.  Personally, I was captivated by this film from start to finish.  Whatever failings its script may have, its visual storytelling is more than ample to pick up the slack.

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