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Five Movie Scenes Inspired by Paintings

Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese

For those who understand and cherish cinema, it goes without saying that cinema and art are intertwined, and cannot exist independently of each other, with each scene communicating to the viewer the director’s artistic and aesthetic vision. Sometimes you may have to re-watch the movie over and over again to comprehend what exactly this is. Furthermore, certain directors are directly influenced and inspired by artwork, and they place this inspiration into the centre of their movies. Sometimes the story of the artwork and the script reflect each other, though not always necessarily. So, let’s take a look at some paintings which have inspired movie scenes. 

1- Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s neo-noir psychological thriller, ‘Shutter Island’, tells the story of a psychiatric hospital where patients go missing in strange circumstances. One of the most iconic scenes is the scene where DiCaprio hugs his wife, the protagonist of The Kiss.  

The Kiss by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, is an oil painting, made on a canvas with gold leaf, silver and platinum. This famous painting dates back to 1907-1908, which historians call the “Golden Period”. When one sees the scene and the painting side by side, it awakens an incredible feeling. 

2- Shirley: Visions of Reality directed by Gustav Deutsch

‘Shirley: Visions of Reality’, directed by Gustav Deutsch. In this case, the script of the movie, and the painting, are directly connected with each other. Shirley reimagines the story of a woman that we see in Edward Hopper’s paintings. Hopper is a realist, and has a painting named New York Movie (1939), which tells the story of Hollywood taking the audience to fake worlds in movie theaters.

  ‘Shirley: Visions of a Reality’ is a homage to Edward Hopper. Thirteen of Hopper’s paintings are re-imagined by director Gustav Deutsch, and cinematographer Jerzy Palacz. In the scene Shirley leans back against a wall, with a sense of boredom reflected on her face, as per the original.

Shirley: Visions of Reality directed by Gustav Deutsch

3- ‘Dreams’ directed by Akira Kurosawa

 ‘Dreams’ directed by Akira Kurosawa. One of the most important Japanese directors, Akira Kurosawa’s movie ‘Dreams’ is a collection of eight dreamlike vignettes, based on his own experiences. Kurosawa plays tribute to Van Gogh throughout the film. The artist is even featured in the film, and played by fellow director Martin Scorsese.  

Wheatfield with Crows is perhaps one of Van Gogh’s most interesting works, and it is often believed that this paint was the last work he painted before his suicide. Because of that, Kurosawa, 80 years old at the time, most probably uses the scene as a metaphor here. 

‘Dreams’ directed by Akira Kurosawa

4- ‘A Clockwork Orange’ directed by Stanley Kubrick

‘A Clockwork Orange’ directed by Stanley Kubrick. Well-renowned director Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is one of the most debated films of all time. The film deals with the actions of sadistic young criminal Alex DeLarge who is imprisoned and volunteers for a behaviour aversion experiment which doesn’t go as planned.

 There is a scene in which prisoners circle around the centre of a small space as a part of the daily prison routine. The scene is clearly reminiscent of Van Gogh’s painting, Prisoners Exercising. Here the master director is of course making a deliberate homage to the piece; Van Gogh painted the piece during a time at which he had voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital.  

‘A Clockwork Orange’ directed by Stanley Kubrick

5- ‘Heat’ directed by Micheal Mann

 ‘Heat’ directed by Micheal Mann. In the movie, a group of professional thieves start to feel the heat from the LAPD when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist. A must-watch in the criminal genre, Heat brought the two greats Al Pacino and De Niro together. 

  On the left side, is Pacific painted by Alex Colville. Both in the movie and painting; there is a man staring out to the ocean, accompanied by a gun on a table. This painting, with its motifs of alienation and implicit violence, proves an apt choice for depicting the emotions in the movie. 

‘Heat’ directed by Micheal Mann


Written by Bade Balık for Artleove Magazine

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