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The Famous Artworks That Inspired 15 Films

There is a fascinating interplay between the visual cultures of film and art. Directors have frequently used imagery from painting and other art forms to shape the look and meaning of their works. Earlier this week, website Philebrity appealed to our inner art history nerd and reminded us of a strong visual influence behind Terrence Malick’s 1978 film Days of Heaven. We feature the movie’s art-world doppelgänger after the jump, along with other artworks that informed frames and entire visual themes in different movies.

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Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven

Terrence Malick captured the light, textures, and stillness of Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World in his film about a tragic love triangle set on a farm in the Texas Panhandle during the early 20th century. There’s also a fascinating connection between the criticisms aimed at Malick and Wyeth — known as a “painter of the people” — for being too “sentimental.”

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9 comments
BryanRoth
BryanRoth

They left out "The Death of Marat," by Jacques-Louis David, which is recreated in the bathtub scene of "About Schmidt," with Jack Nicholson.

Ximena Aguilar
Ximena Aguilar

Great list, however Guillermo del Toro is Mexican, not Spanish.

Blagica Zdravkovska
Blagica Zdravkovska

Also.."The potato eaters" by Van Gogh in Bela Tar's "The turin horse".

slywlf
slywlf

Good list. What was the painting referenced in the transformation scene in Altered States? When I saw the movie I was sure I had seen that image elsewhere but never tried got around to tracking it down.

grahamhall
grahamhall

@BryanRoth  when I first saw that image, the whole movie froze. I am never sure of the importance Alexander Payne placed on that scene or why is was the exact image of the death of Marat. That image has kept my art practice going since 2002

BryanRoth
BryanRoth

@grahamhall @BryanRoth I wasn't really sure why that scene was in the movie, either; I just assumed he did it because he could, as sort of an inside joke to art lovers. I still don't see any connection with the movie, really. But it was kind of cool. The movie literally froze when I saw it, because I was watching it with friends, and put it on pause to go get a picture of the painting to show them, so they wouldn't think I was nuts! lol


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