Immersive #9: Loving Vincent

Oftentimes, adaptations of pre-existing work are translated into new mediums in order to expand upon the impact and outreach that the original work holds. However, given that every medium has its own advantages and disadvantages, these adaptations run the risk of losing the insightful themes and emotional responses that the original creator sought to invoke within their work. Nevertheless, when adaptations do manage to stay true to the original message, the end result can truly add onto the original contributions of the creator’s work in a meaningful manner.

One such adaptation that takes this approach of having a deep rooted understanding of the original work while transforming it into something revolutionary is through the 2017 feature film Loving Vincent directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman: from its conceptualization to implementation, Loving Vincent sought to put a new spin onto the life of Vincent van Gogh and the circumstances surrounding his death by having its animation consist entirely of hand-drawn paintings, becoming the world’s first ever fully painted film.

In having every frame of the film be painted in the style of Vincent van Gogh, Kobiela sought to build upon the words van Gogh stated in his last letter: “We cannot speak other than by our paintings.” And since such an ambitious feat had never been pulled off before, the creators had to spend 4 years developing the technique that would allow them to accurately capture the fluidity of film within frame by frame oil paintings. But after they managed to hone their technique, it took the team of over 125 painters another 2 years to finish the film, which consisted of over 65,000 frames painted over 1,000 canvases. The end result would be a nostalgic yet vivid world that truly allowed for its viewers to experience what it would be like to live within the contemplative and nuanced world of van Gogh.

Adeline Ravoux Folding Napkins

Overall, Loving Vincent embodies its name within all aspects of its production, retaining the expressive style and intentions of van Gogh while inspiring new life into his works through animation: it is truly a product of love for what van Gogh stood for and what he means for other creatives and admirers who gaze upon his work for inspiration. The film also serves as an indicator on how traditional mediums can be transformed into something new and innovative that adds onto the original work without subtracting from it. It is also a reminder that love for a project can go a long way in ensuring that all elements of the production work with intention and in harmony with one another, which is a mindset that I hope we are all able to embody within our own personal pursuits and creative endeavors.

Witness Loving Vincent: HERE

Liana Lau

Liana Lau is a student at the University of Michigan, who enjoys learning about interesting marketing campaigns and storytelling techniques. Her section, Immersive, is dedicated to captivating storytelling experiences across many different platforms that engage the viewer with its content through its art form.

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