Vincent van Gogh & The Doctor

One of my all time favorite episodes of Doctor Who is “Vincent and the Doctor.” It is one of my favorites for two main reasons.

First, van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. I love his paintings and his style. The van Gogh section was the first thing on my list to see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City both times that I went. One of my favorite van Gogh paintings is titled “Wheat Field with Cypress.” I like it because of the color and the way the painting makes me feel like I’m standing right there in the field. And of course, all of van Gogh’s sunflower paintings are great, I especially like them because sunflowers are my favorite type of flower.

Here is a list of fun Vincent van Gogh facts:

  • He had a brother with the same name as him who died at birth.
  • He was planning to be a pastor like his dad.
  • He painted “Starry Night”, his most famous artwork, while in a mental hospital.
  • He wrote over 800 letters in his life, most of them to his brother, Theo.
  • He only sold one painting while he was alive.
  • In the last 10 years of his life he made around 900 paintings.
  • His most expensive painting, titled “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” is valued at $148.6 million.

 

The second reason I like this episode so much is because I love that the Doctor shows van Gogh how important he becomes to the world. I love that, even if it is only for a few minutes, van Gogh has hope of what the future will hold for him.

I think that we all need a little bit of that at some point in our lives. We all reach the point where we don’t know what’s coming next or if anything is coming next, and though is is impossible to jump ahead and see what’s coming, I think this episode shows that you never know what great things could be waiting for you ahead.

 

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Vincent and The Doctor

In S5E10, the 11th Doctor and his companion Amy travel back in time to figure out why strange creature is hiding in one of Van Gogh’s paintings. The episode does have some scenes that are more focused towards taking the creature out, but there also some scenes when the focus was on Van Gogh’s mental health. Specifically, Amy is very concerned for Van Gogh’s mental health while the Doctor is concerned but also knows that he cannot do too much to change history. The Doctor realize that Van Gogh is a troubled soul, but also the Doctor cannot say or do anything to Van Gogh to disrupt history. However, Amy does not see the situation through the Doctor’s perspective. This is where the problem comes in. Amy tries to figure out why Vincent van Gogh feels the way he does. Amy starts to build a friendship with Van Gogh, and he mistakes this friendship for love. Here is where I have a problem: even though, Amy is a good person and making sure someone is alright is fine. Despite this trait, the episode portrays Amy’s kindness as a cause of Vincent van Gogh’s downfall. It is evident that Amy is a caring person, but because she wanted to make sure that Van Gogh was okay, she ended up being a part of someone’s ultimate end. When the Doctor and Amy left Van Gogh without warning, Van Gogh felt abandoned by his friends. This might be me reaching for a reason to make Amy the villain, but she unwillingly made a mentally ill person attached to her all while knowing that she would have to return to her time period and leave Van Gogh behind.

 

 

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The Doctor and I (also my favorite episode)

Before I start everything, can we just take a moment and laugh about how I stared at my laptop for about 20 minutes without putting a single word down? For a show that I love so much, I hardly know where to start.

Doctor Who has accompanied through most of my college years. I started watching the show about three years ago, on a cold winter night (Christmas break). I must admit, between the rough British accent and the old TV production, it was a little difficult for me to completely understand the show. But I still remember the exact moment when I fell in love :

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Mickey: “Pi-pi-pi-PIZZA! ”

Without having to view the show with a critical mind, I simply enjoyed the drama, the thrill, the freedom of traveling through time and space. One of my favorite episodes is set in 1890, France. The 11th doctor (played by Matt Smith) and his companion Amy Pond visits Vincent van Gogh during the last few months of life before committing suicide at age of thirty-seven. Through out the episode, aside from the running alongside the doctor and chasing monsters, this episode touched based many times on the mental condition of van Gogh. Van Gogh had a mental melt down and even admitted to the Doctor upon their departure, that he “might not do so well on his own”. After hearing this, the Doctor decided to bring van Gogh to Musee d’Orsay museum in Paris to show van Gogh the impact of his work. At the museum, van Gogh was shaken as the collection’s curator described van Gogh in a way where “He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty… (van Gogh) is not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.” (Vincent and the Doctor, Doctor Who season 5, episode 10)

 

This episode was able to portrait the tormented artists within the limitation of essentially being a children’s program. Van Gogh’s mental anguish was displayed wonderfully by the actor Tony Curran. In my opinion, this episode is also a great representation of the essence of Doctor Who. There’s a little bit of history, a little bit of sic-fi. There’s enough emotions involved to bring people to tears and also a lot of moral stories that makes the viewers think more critically. The fact that the writer didn’t skirt around the metal illness impressed me very much.

In the end, meeting Vincent van Gogh and William Shakespeare, seeing a dinosaur in a spaceship and the end of time, these are merely a glimpse of what’s waiting in front of you, my dear classmates. Enjoy the class and the show!