Britain’s museums are full of art that offers endless inspiration to today’s film makers. From material history (what the past looked like) to appreciation of the power of colour and composition, art can inform moving image production in so many ways.
Tate Britain has many fascinating paintings maybe not all of them in the great ‘canon’ of world art, but inspirational nonetheless. I’ll be off to the Art and Empire show next week, can’t wait.
However this one here is one of the great masterpieces in the Tate, John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose”. He painted it during magic hour one autumn, in the garden, only a few minutes per evening to catch the fleeting perfect pink light. ‘Magic Hour’ greatly inspires film makers too – Jack Cardiff called his (fascinating) autobiography Magic Hour, and Terence Malick famously shot most of Days of Heaven during Magic Hour, meaning that the film took ages to complete. Like Sargent, Malick had a very limited amount of time to catch the light.
I don’t think you can reproduce ‘magic hour’ with digital technology. I have never seen a decent reproduction of “Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose.” Nor have I seen anything quite as stunning as Days of Heaven done with digital. *
I’ve written more about ‘magic hour’ in art and film in Art History for Filmmakers.
John Singer Sargent; Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose; © [Tate] Photographic Rights © Tate (2014), CC–BY–NC–ND 3.0 (Unported), a link back to the material
* (Lee Rose and John Toll’s work on Vanilla Sky (2001) – film – comes pretty close to perfect.)
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