10 Great Movie Scenes That Subtly Recreated Famous Paintings
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When one art form meets another, magical things can happen, and that’s especially true when a film pays homage to a famous painting by composing a scene in almost exactly the same way.
Whether it’s a subtle nod to a masterpiece or a feature film entirely dedicated to a painter’s masterpieces, here are several films that have recreated the look of famous paintings to infuse deeper meanings.
10. The Nightmare in Gothic (1986)
Gothic is far from the best film ever made, but critics can agree that its striking (and gruesome) visuals are what set it apart.
A weird, lowbrow horror that caters to cult fans, Gothic re-imagines the story of the Shelleys’ visit to Lord Byron and how Frankenstein was first written in 1818. So basically it’s about how the genre came about.
Ken Russell’s hallucinatory British horror wasn’t exactly hidden in his pastiche reference to Henry Fuseli’s painting The nightmare (1781). In fact, it was even on the movie poster!
Since the painting is considered a gothic classic, it was of course to make an appearance in a film literally titled Gothic!
9. In Prince Edward Island in Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Like all Wes Anderson movies, you can take a break Moonrise Kingdom at any time and be welcomed with a perfect setting. The splendid symmetry and precise color palettes of his films result in cinematic experiences that resemble two-hour moving paintings.
So why not throw a real painting in there? Moonrise Kingdom is a lovely pastel-colored learning tale in which two children decide to run away and live together in an island cove.
The most common screenshot you will find of Moonrise Kingdom shows Suzy (Kara Hayward) holding a pair of binoculars. The lush horizon is perfectly parallel to the frame on which she stands, pointing her gaze straight at us.
The scene echoes that of Alex Colville In Prince Edward Island (1965), a pointillist piece popular in the 1960s and depicting another little girl staring at us as the sea rolls behind her.
8. Napoleon crossing the Alps in Marie-Antoinette (2006)
Sofia Coppola clearly did a lot of research into the aesthetics of 18th century France for her film Marie Antoinette. Then she mixed it with her usual trademark style to give us a beautiful feminist romance drama.
Kirsten Dunst stars as the last queen of France before the French Revolution of 1789, leading a lavish existence that was terrible for the economy but brilliant to capture cinematically!
Although Napoleon Bonaparte is not in the film, Jamie Dornan appears on horseback as Count Fersen. The white horse, red cape, bicorn hat, and battle-ready posture are remarkably similar to Napoleon crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1801).
Sofia Coppola clearly has an artistic mind that considers every detail of every frame, especially this one.
7. The artist dying as a nymphomaniac (2013)
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With a title like Nymphomaniacyou probably wouldn’t expect it to refer to a classic Polish painting from the Victorian era.
The dying artist by Zygmunt Andrychiewicz (1901) depicts the dark scene of an artist asleep in his bed, unaware that death is sitting beside him. The fact that the skeleton man plays the violin makes it hauntingly beautiful.
Although paint isn’t exactly erotic material, writer/director Lars von Trier successfully incorporated it into his controversial two-part film. It’s a subtle reference, but certainly noticeable enough for art fanatics.
Nymphomaniac is essentially a great morality piece, with Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) mirroring the dying artist and Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) the immoral/deadly omen of darkness beside his bed.
6. Spoliarium at Heneral Luna (2015)
Spoliarium (1884) is the largest painting in the Philippines, imposing in size: 13.85 feet high by 25.2 feet wide.
A romantic oil canvas by Filipino painter Juan Luna, it served as an icon of Filipino nationalism, showing broken bodies being dragged across the bloodied stone floor.
Allan Paule plays said painter in General Luna, but that’s not really what the film is about. Director Jerrold Tarog focuses on the story of General Antonio Luna (John Arcilla), who was a key leader in the Philippine-American War.
The general’s brother, Juan Luna, may only play a small role in the film, but his influence extends everywhere. Behind the camera, cinematographer Pong Ignacio drew inspiration from many of Luna’s actual paintings as well as Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war film. paths of glory.
Western audiences may not have heard of General Lunabut it is one of the most expensive Filipino epic films ever made.
5. Wheat Field with Crows in Dreams (1990)
It was only time before Vincent van Gogh appeared in this article. Not only is Van Gogh one of the most famous painters in history, his visual style is incredibly fun to explore in movies.
Legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, best known for Rashomon and Seven Samurai— also has a passion for painting, hence his creation of a film as artistically whimsical as dreams.
dreams is made up of eight vignettes, each reenacting one of his many real-life dreams that Kurosawa repeatedly had.
The fifth part is titled Crows in direct reference to Van Gogh’s post-impressionist landscape of 1890 Wheat field with crows. In it, an art student stumbles into the world of Van Gogh himself, played (unexpectedly) by Martin Scorsese.
4. Saturn Devouring His Son in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
The black paints was the name of the fourteen-part series by Francisco Goya, painted directly on the walls of his house in Madrid. Having lived in a country torn by war and serious illness, Goya translated his pessimism into famous and bizarre works of art.
One of the most disturbing was called Saturn devouring his son (1819-1823), which shows the Titan Cronus literally eating one of his descendants. Yeah, it got pretty dark sometimes.
Guillermo del Toro is a champion of the dark fantasy genre, with most of its strange creatures portrayed by Doug Jones. The pale man of Pan’s Labyrinth is particularly creepy, devoid of any elements except for oversized, saggy skin dripping from his bones.
At one point, the pale man bites off the head of a nearby fairy. Del Toro admitted that this scene was inspired by Goya, the Pale Man coming “straight from Goya’s painting of Saturn devouring his son.”
3. Nighthawks in Pennies From Heaven (1981)
It doesn’t seem like much is going on in nightjars (1942), but it remains one of the most recognizable oil paintings: four people in a late-night restaurant window.
Herbert Ross pays homage to the American art classic in his musical drama pennies from heaven, with Steve Martin. The film opens with Chicago in 1934, with so many scenes and settings based on post-war and Depression memories – photographs, paintings, books, etc.
The most obvious is certainly nightjars, with Steve Martin seated in a fedora hat next to Bernadette Peters. It’s not the only painting by Edward Hopper to appear on this list!
2. Paintings from Edward Hopper to Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013)
Shirley: visions of reality does not feature just one painting by Edward Hopper. It basically showcases its entire canon.
The modern artist was known for his poignant use of realism and block colouring, which experimental filmmaker/architect/artist Gustav Deutsch brought to life. His multiple disciplines allowed Deutsch to bring Hopper’s paintings to life in ways that Hollywood directors would never have imagined.
Shirley: visions of reality might feel like a bit of a cheat, as it’s a documentary (of sorts) and entirely based on paintings, not just one stage. However, we have yet to find a movie quite like this!
Deutsch uses this Shirley (Stephanie Cumming) to navigate Hopper’s world, cinematically invigorating thirteen paintings to tell the story of a woman who rejects reality and reconstructs her own.
1. Paintings by Van Gogh in Loving Vincent (2017)
Loving Vincent is another movie that has not just a re-enacted painting in scene, but the whole movie! However, unlike Shirley: visions of realityDorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman use a famous narrative structure and cast that we are more familiar with.
Loving Vincent is the only film of its kind: an experimental animated feature biopic of the legendary Vincent van Gogh, with all 65,000 frames comprising individual oil paintings in the style of Van Gogh, created by a dedicated team of 125 artists .
Originally conceived as a short film, Loving Vincent received funding for the entire 95 minute run and won numerous awards.
Although they were (sophisticated) drawn, the actors are still recognizable, with Douglas Booth in the center, surrounded by Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory and Chris O’Dowd.
If you liked those funny movies that reference real-life paintings, here are some additional honorable mentions to immerse you further: