“I envy the Japanese” Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. In the exhibition on which this film is based – VAN GOGH & JAPAN at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – one can see why. Though Vincent van Gogh never visited Japan it is the country that had the most profound influence on him and his art.

One cannot understand Van Gogh without understanding how Japanese art arrived in Paris in the middle of the 19th...