The animated movie Loving Vincent is the world’s first totally oil-painted feature movie. Its graphics are based on the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.
The movie is set one year after Vincent’s death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Joseph Roulin (voice of Chris O’Dowd), postmaster and Vincent’s close friend, has an undelivered letter that Vincent wrote just before his death. The letter is addressed to Vincent’s brother Theo. Joseph entrusts the delivery of the letter to his son Armand (voice of Douglas Booth). When Armand attempts to deliver the letter he discovers that Theo is also dead, leaving Armand wondering to whom he should deliver the letter.
Armand travels to the town where Vincent lived, hoping that he might find out how the artist could go from being reportedly content to suicidal in six weeks. Armand soon finds that everyone who knew Vincent has a different view on how he met his death.
By the movie’s end the audience gains some insight into the life and trials of the painter, who produced over 800 paintings in eight years but sold only one. But there are still many unanswered questions surrounding his death.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Suicide; self-mutilation; sexually transmitted diseases; mental illness
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Loving Vincent has some animated violence. For example:
- The movie has several physical fights, in which people punch each other in the head and kick each other in the stomach.
- There are several verbal arguments.
- Vincent’s severed ear is wrapped in a napkin and given to a woman. He’s seen lying on a bed holding the side of his head with blood covering his hand and face.
- There are references to Vincent killing himself because he had a breakdown.
- Bullies torment Vincent by throwing rocks at him and taunting him while he’s painting. Later, people talk about the same bullies being responsible for stabbing him.
- In one scene Vincent staggers along while holding his stomach, with a large patch of blood seeping through his shirt and blood on his hand. He says that he tried to kill himself. Later Vincent lies in bed with Theo holding his hand as he dies.
- A doctor talks about how Vincent was shot, discussing the angle of the bullet’s entry and exit.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Loving Vincent has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- A group of teenagers torment Vincent by placing a live snake in his paint box.
- Characters talk about how Vincent’s death has destroyed his brother, and Theo is distraught as he cries over his brother’s death.
- There are images of Vincent laid out in a coffin at his funeral.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the themes and scenes in this movie.
Loving Vincent has some sexual references. For example:
- There’s a reference to a man who has died from syphilis.
- There’s a reference to Vincent presenting his severed ear to a ‘whore’.
- A woman makes suggestive remarks about Vincent seeing a woman, but the woman is out of his league.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Loving Vincent shows some use of substances. For example:
- People drink wine, beer and spirits socially in several scenes.
- In a couple of scenes men drinking alcohol get drunk. They stagger, slur their words and become aggressive. In one scene several drunk men have a fist fight, and one man ends up in jail.
- Men and women smoke cigarettes throughout the movie, and men also smoke pipes.
Nudity and sexual activity
Loving Vincent shows some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Sexily dressed prostitutes flirt with men in a brothel.
- A fully clothed man and woman have sexual intercourse.
Loving Vincent has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Loving Vincent is an animated drama targeting older teenagers and adults. It has particular appeal for lovers of van Gogh’s art, who will enjoy the unique animation. The movie was entirely handpainted in oils by over 100 artists, with over 60 000 individual frames painted over seven years.
Because of its disturbing themes and images, Loving Vincent is not recommended for children under 13 years. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years, and there’s a lot in this movie you could talk about with children in this age group.
The main message from this movie is that talented artists can be troubled by psychological problems that lead to them being excluded, misunderstood and undervalued by those around them.
You could talk with your children about why people shun Vincent and discriminate against him. Are they scared of him because he’s different? Is it his psychological disorder that they don’t understand and are afraid of, or are they ignorant of his genius?