The third film that I made with Rock, was Vincent and Me. Like all my films, it began with a chance event, in this case me seeing a wonderful retrospective of van Gogh’s art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
I was knocked over by the power and freshness of his work and decided to make some copies so that I could have them on my walls. Funnily enough, I didn’t feel completely comfortable about making such copies even though Vincent himself made copies of artists he admired.
This disquiet led me to writing a story about a young girl, Jo, a talented young artist who is accused of plagiarising Vincent’s work. She is devastated by the accusation and decides to go back in the past, find Vincent and ask him to clear her name, which he does. There is nothing in life worse than being falsely accused. Actually, nobody accused me of doing a bad thing by making copies and finally, I was able to use all the copies on screen. I’d had so much fun locking myself away in a dear friends Montreal basement to finish some 30 of the replicas.
Van Gogh was played by the great French actor Tcheky Karyo who we see painting one of the famous van Gogh canvases, the blue cart, just outside Arles. There is a touching moment which you can see in the clip, when Joe arrives in time for lunch and informs Vincent who, at this point has never sold a painting and has not much hope of ever doing so, that one day his paintings will sell for millions. Vincent breaks into incredulous laughter.
As a result of her brief appearance in our movie, we were able to get Jeanne into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest actress in the sense she does act because she plays a scene with Jo appearing on her character, though perhaps she thought Joe was telling the truth when she said she’d gone back in the past meet Vincent. This leaves the old lady incredulous, as you’d expect.
It was a pleasant surprise when Vincent and Me won an Emmy.