ARTS & CULTURE

Watch Actors Transform Into Living Van Gogh Paintings Before Your Eyes

The mesmerizing stills are from the upcoming, entirely painted biopic "Loving Vincent."

09/22/2017 10:26 EDT
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Chris O’Dowd as Postman Roulin in "Loving Vincent." In the film, the postman sends his son, Armand Roulin, on a quest to deliver a letter and find out what really happened to van Gogh.

Art history buffs, prepare yourselves.

Loving Vincent,” a star-studded biopic about the life of Vincent van Gogh that’s been hailed as the first fully painted feature film ever made, debuts on Sept. 22. And while the whole “fully painted feature film” thing sounds really cool in theory, seeing it is a whole different starry night. 

To make this wildly ambitious film a possibility, directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman recruited a team of 125 artists to study van Gogh’s singular brushstroke in Gdansk, Poland. After mastering his craft, the artists transformed 120 van Gogh paintings into painted frames based on live-action sequences and computer animation.

The painted images converge to tell the story of van Gogh’s extraordinary life and mysterious death. A character based on real-life portrait subject Armand Roulin serves as the film’s narrator and pseudo-detective, retracing van Gogh’s steps and most iconic artworks in search of a plausible explanation for the artist’s contested suicide. In the end, the film features 64,500 frames, which together combine live action and art history into a fluid, cinematic fantasy. 

The process of creating the film sounds, to put it mildly, intense. And though we have yet to see the final movie, the stills showing the transition from actor to painted person are simply jaw dropping. The “Loving Vincent” team supplied HuffPost with images of actors including Chris O’Dowd, Saoirse Ronan and Aidan Turner before and after their van Gogh makeovers, alongside the paintings that inspired their new looks. See those below.

For more on “Loving Vincent,” check out the trailer and some behind-the-scenes clips we debuted last year. Head to the film’s website to see if “Loving Vincent” is playing in a theater near you.

BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Polish theater actor Robert Gulaczyk stars as Vincent van Gogh.
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Eleanor Tomlinson as Adeline Ravoux, the "lively inn-keeper's daughter."
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Douglas Booth as Armand Roulin. "'Loving Vincent' follows the journey of Armand Roulin, son to Postman Joseph Roulin. In the film Armand’s father sends him to deliver a letter to Vincent’s brother Theo, after hearing that Vincent shot himself. Armand arrives in Paris only to find that Theo is dead, too. He is drawn into the mystery of Vincent’s death, as he finds out more about Vincent’s amazing life and seeks out the truth about his death," a description on the website for "Loving Vincent" reads. "Vincent painted Armand three times, and his portrait of Armand Roulin in a yellow jacket is the one from which we took a lead for 'Loving Vincent.'"
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Aidan Turner as Boatman, reportedly inspired by van Gogh's portrait of a young peasant.
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Helen McCrory as Louise Chevalier. "Louise Chevalier was Dr. Paul Gachet’s housekeeper in Auvers-sur-oise," a description on the "Loving Vincent" website reads. "When Vincent van Gogh left the asylum in Saint Remy in May 1890, he went to live in Auvers, so Dr. Gachet could keep an eye on him. In the film, our hero Armand Roulin comes across Louise on his journey to discover more about van Gogh, and she shares her opinions and theories about the artist and his mysterious death with Armand. Vincent didn’t paint Louise, so we decided to use the two portraits he did of an unnamed woman in Auvers, 'Girl in White' and ‘Peasant Woman Against Background of Wheat’ for her character in the film."
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Jerome Flynn as Dr. Gaschet. "Dr. Paul Gachet was passionately involved with the bohemian world of the impressionist artists of Paris," a description on the website for "Loving Vincent" reads. "He was a physician to many painters including Cezanne, and became van Gogh’s doctor in Auvers-sur-oise after Vincent left the Saint Remy asylum, following a recommendation from Camille Pissarro to Vincent’s brother Theo. Vincent lived in Auvers so he could be treated by Dr. Gachet from May 1890 until his death in July that year."
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
John Sessions as Père Tanguy. "Julien Tanguy, affectionately nick-named Père Tanguy, ran a paint supply shop in Paris, and Vincent van Gogh was one of his frequent customers and a loyal friend," a description on the website for "Loving Vincent" reads. "Père Tanguy was a passionate supporter of the ’new painters’ including the impressionists, exhibiting them and often accepting payment for supplies in paintings.  In Loving Vincent, Tanguy’s shop is Armand Roulin’s first stop on his journey to discover the truth about van Gogh."
BreakThru Films and Good Deed Entertainment
Saoirse Ronan as Marguerite Gachet, the daughter of Dr. Paul Gachet. Van Gogh frequently joined the Gachet family for meals and painted Marguerite twice, though her face remains partially hidden in both.
Also on HuffPost
Vincent van Gogh