Vincent Van Gogh & The Doctor

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is, without a doubt - my favorite Doctor Who episode. It is what made me fall in love with Matt Smith’s Doctor. And why he will likely be my favorite rendition of the character.

While Tony Curran’s portrayal of Van Gogh is unparalleled. Matt Smith’s Doctor, and Karen Gillian’s Amy Pond are just as imperative to the story.

When we meet Van Gogh at the beginning of the episode, he is a penniless drunk - and the town’s joke. He only sold one painting in his lifetime, and struggled with mental illness until his suicide at the age of 37. While there is much debate of the effect his mental illness had on his late paintings, his art expresses that he was at the peak of his ability, and completely in control - longing for concision and grace.

Understanding Van Gogh takes more than an appreciation of his art. He frequently wrote his younger brother, Theo - who provided Vincent primary emotional, and financial support. These letters provide us insight into why Vincent painted, not just for the love of art. But for the love of nature, color, and what he believed to be a necessary response to his torment.

One of my favorite quotes from his letters to Theo states “I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort—and disappointment and perseverance.”

Van Gogh produced over 2,100 artworks in his lifetime, his best-known in the last two years of his life. He had such a command of color because he saw things beneath the surface. I believe that he saw these things because he looked for them, not just because he was gifted.

In another letter to Theo he wrote: “At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

In this episode, Vincent is able to see something that Amy and The Doctor, and even the viewer cannot. We are only able to see it through his portrayal. Not only that, but Vincent has insight into Amy’s loss, even though she is not aware of it herself.

Vincent takes the Doctor and Amy’s hands at the end of the episode, and shows them the way he sees the world.

Vincent: “Hold my hand, Doctor. Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is, in fact deep blue. And over there: lighter blue and blowing through the blues and blackness the winds swirling through the air and then shining, burning, bursting through: the stars!”

[the sky gradually transforms into van Gogh’s painting Starry Night]

Vincent: ”And you see how they roar their light. Everywhere we look, the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes. It seems to me there’s so much more to the world than the average eye is allowed to see. I believe, if you look hard, there are more wonders in this universe than you could ever have dreamt of.”

The Doctor: “I’ve seen many things, my friend. But you’re right. Nothing’s quite as wonderful as the things you see.”

While the Doctor and Amy are able to save Vincent from the danger at hand, they are unable to save him from himself. Amy spends the majority of the episode hoping that time can be rewritten, and that Vincent will live a long life since they “saved” him. However, when they return (without Vincent) to the present - Amy despairs that there aren’t any new Van Gogh paintings. She turns to the doctor with tears in her eyes and says: “We didn’t make a difference at all.”

The Doctor turns to Amy, embraces her and says:

“I wouldn’t say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.”

I find myself on both sides of this story. There are times when I feel tormented, and I will never be understood, or appreciated. I battle not giving into despair or the sickness I feel inside myself. There are times I feel that I’m sacrificing my sanity for powering through, or pulling myself out of bed on days when I simply do not want to exist.

Then there are times when I meet someone else in the midst of their despair. I recognize it immediately, and I want to save them. Perhaps some of that is empathy, some of that is hope that I can be saved myself. Of course, the problem is that we can’t save anyone from themselves, no matter how badly we want to.

I think that it’s important not to expect anything in return for our compassion, or love. We want so desperately to be able to make a difference, and we count everything as a loss if we feel that we don’t.

It’s important to know that you can make a difference, and it still matters even if you can’t save someone from themselves (in the end).

So often, we consider a single defeat to define us, or others. But when I look at Van Gogh, as tragic as his suicide was - his art changed the world. It changed me - it speaks to, and comforts me on a regular basis. And that is more than a victory against death.

I know it’s hard to see past our own lifespan, or the lifespan of others. But I promise - when you make something that lasts, when you pour your heart and soul into something - it will speak longer than you ever could.

We can always make a difference...????????


Submitted: November 06, 2019

© Copyright 2021 AngelDelight98. All rights reserved.

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Hey dear author ! this is liaison, an editor from I just read your book .I love it so much If you wanted to see whether you can get paid by distributing the current work or getting financial support by writing new work, you might want to contact ? A brief introduction, some sample chapters or links will be appreciated when reaching out.

Sun, October 11th, 2020 2:03pm

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