The fascination of this film and the story it tells, is the common theme of dedication to preservation. Through the museums research and extensive restorations; to Van Gogh’s dedication to preserving a technique and emotion through the colour of the sunflowers. This leads us through the life and mind of Van Gogh and his sunflower collection in what was, a very short period of time in his 10 years of being an artist.
SUNFLOWERS does not go in depth into the most famous and well-known aspects of Van Gogh, such as the mutilation of his ear and time in an asylum leading up to his death in 1890. It follows the path of his passion for colour, recreation, impressionism and realism in his artist’s journey. Beginning in 1886 his work began to incorporate more colour from his previous portraits, which started when he used flowers as his subject. As he says in a letter, he “lacked money for models” and was “struggling for life and progress in life”, comparing himself to other painters.
The sunflowers became an outlet for Van Gogh as much as a way of studying composition and colour. What is talked about within this film was the idea that Van Gogh wanted to continually adapt and learn, through his 11 paintings of sunflowers he was able to apply ideas he had learnt from other artists into his work.
We see these paintings which are now scattered around the world from London and Munich to Japan and Philadelphia. Still, after all this time, a fascination to art lovers. The interviews with the specialists give an insight into other artists of the time as well as the subject of flowers, specifically sunflowers. Giving context to Van Gogh’s art in the late 1800’s.
This film being released during the northern hemisphere's summer is appropriate for the amazing scenery bathed in light which mimics the brightness of sunflowers and Van Gogh’s interpretation of them. The relaxing feeling portrayed through this film transports you to the rural scenery of the south of France. Relaxing and visually stunning.
While the paint has dulled the intensity of the colours over time, the observations made through this film show Van Gogh’s love for colour and inspiration he found all around him in spite of his mental health issues during this time. SUNFLOWERS can be beautifully wrapped up in one comment by Van Gogh. In a letter to his brother Theo, he says about his friend and artist Paul Gauguin; “Gauguin… (had) seen a painting by Claude Monet of sunflowers… very fine. But he likes mine better.”
SUNFLOWERS IS SCREENING IN SELECT CINEMAS FROM MAY 20.