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Author Topic: Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013) - a film based on 13 Edward Hopper Paintings  (Read 595 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: April 07, 2017, 01:58:06 AM »

I recently saw the trailers for a 2013 film called Shirley: Visions of Reality, a painting based on 13 of Edward Hopper's paintings.

Here are some of the video clips on YouTube of Shirley: Visions of Reality: trailers and behind-the-scenes stuff:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcQ4JKxxukY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n12IqtouuqY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj_oe08rOTY


I have discussed Hopper extensively in two threads on these boards devoted to art: This thread specifically focuses on the influence of paintings on Leone's movies http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=8921.msg138371#msg138371 and this thread is a general thread about paintings, not specifically related to cinema http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11436.msg159579#msg159579

Edward Hopper was probably the most cinematic painter of them all - particularly noir-like paintings. But lots of others as well.

BTW, interesting thing about that: A while ago, TCM had a Hopper night - movies inspired by Hopper or Hopper-like. One was The Killers. Apparently, the opening scene, set in the diner, was based on Hopper's most famous painting, Nighthawks https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nighthawks which is undoubtedly the most famous noir-like painting ever. Ben Menckiewicz said that Hopper himself loved Hemingway's short story The Killers, and that Hopper said that he was even thinking of the book when he painted Nighthawks. So, this movie was a case of art imitating art imitating art!

Austrian filmmaker Gustav Deutsch made a movie based on 13 of Hopper's paintings. Each of the 13 includes a woman, and the movie is about this woman, named Shirley in the movie. From what I've read about it, basically, the woman has various experiences through which we see American history in the 30's through the 60's. The scenes are set to look exactly like those 13 paintings.

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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 02:16:18 AM »

The movie is available on Region 1 DVD, and on Amazon streaming. It is not available on iTunes, or on Netflix DVD service; I am not sure about Netflix streaming service.

I have been reading some reviews/articles about the movie.

Problem is, this is not merely showing the history of America during these years, but it is political, as the Hollywood Reporter notes here http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/shirley-visions-reality-berlin-review-420118


Here are the first three paragraphs of the Hollywood Reporter review  


Thirteen works by popular American painter Edward Hopper spring to life in this experimental Austrian tour-de-force.
Iconic American painter Edward Hopper is such a household god that oil-on-canvas reproductions of his work are sold online; why not, then, attempt to bring his art to life through the magic of cinema? In Shirley, Visions of Reality, Austrian filmmaker, architect and experimental artist Gustav Deutsch scores a remarkable success in reproducing 13 of Hopper’s most famous oil paintings on film, setting off his own meticulous production design with the brilliant lighting by cinematographer Jerzy Palacz.

More controversially, he connects the paintings through the fictitious story of a red-haired New York actress who leads the viewer through America’s wars and social history from 1931-63. The highly political dimension Deutsch adds to Hopper’s work risks enraging some and boring others. Yet if one allows the filmmaker the artistic license to experiment with a unique interdisciplinary art project, and to weave his own story around another artist’s ambience, Shirley opens up these 20th century American scenes to alternate interpretations. In any case, this feature-length film composed of nearly static tableaux vivants is earmarked for art museums, many of whose patrons are likely to find it beguiling.

We first meet Shirley (Canadian-born dancer and choreographer Stephanie Cumming) aboard a train reading a book of Emily Dickinson’s poems. The painting it re-creates is Hopper’s 1965 “Chair Car” and it introduces several motifs that Deutsch favors throughout the film: incredible colors, strong diagonals, bright lighting, huge empty windows promising a larger world outside the confines of one’s own life. The next scene is “Hotel Room” set in Paris in 1931, where our heroine contemplates her return to New York after a European holiday. Though the set ably captures the cramped atmosphere of the painting, in this case it is a less slavish imitation. The space is rationalized somewhat by shifting the window to another wall, and so on.


---
Here is another review

http://thewallbreakers.com/13-edward-hopper-paintings-recreated-as-sets-for-indie-film-shirley-visions-of-reality/

---

I really wish it weren't so political.

I may well agree with much or all of the political viewpoints, but it doesn't matter. I wish it had been done without a political angle; I just want to enjoy the Hopper-movie connection without political shit.

Anyway, I am a huge Hopper fan so I will have to check this out.

p.s. one cute item: One of my favorite Hopper paintings is New York Movie (1939) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79616
I always wondered what film is playing on the screen. the bit of the movie screen that is visible seems to just show a generic shot of clouds.
But in Shirley: Visions of Reality -  as you'll see in this comparison shot https://goo.gl/s2zTyy - on the screen is a shot of Claire Trevor and Humphrey Bogart in Dead End (1937), which I just happened to have seen last night!  Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2017, 04:26:22 AM »

Interesting, thanks Afro

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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2017, 07:57:34 AM »

Yes very interesting! Thanks for posting.

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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2017, 06:28:05 PM »

I just rented the film from Amazon. $2.99

 You have seven days to start watching it, and from when you start watching it you have seven days to finish it.

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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2017, 06:28:51 PM »

Good news for CJ: several of the paintings the movie is based on are nudes  Evil

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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2017, 06:36:26 PM »

Good news for CJ: several of the paintings the movie is based on are nudes  Evil

Thanks for your concern.  Shocked

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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2017, 01:27:04 AM »

I just saw the movie, and I am disappointed.

My review in a nutshell: If you are a Hopper fan you may want to see this as a curiosity, but this is really not very good.

Here goes:

The movie takes 13 of Edward Hopper's paintings that include a woman, and makes a mini-episode out of each of them. The entire movie is around 90 minutes long, so each episode is just a few minutes. It's the same woman – named Shirley – at 13 different times in her life, based on the date of the paintings, set from the 30's through the 60's.

Much of what's going on in these scenes is told by voice-over - Shirley's thoughts - or by Shirley reading aloud. Some of the paintings only have one person - Shirley. To give context in the time period, each episode begins with a radio voice-over of the news of the day.

It sounds like a cute concept. Problem is, many of these episodes are political. Shirley is an actress - in the Group Theatre - and a Communist. In one episode, we see her reading a script for a play she will be performing in, directed by Elia Kazan; in another episode, around a decade later, Shirley describes her disgust at Kazan having named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Communism theme is in a number of other episodes. Now, maybe Gustav Deutsch is a Communist so he stuck this shit in there, but it is horseshit. if there is any story to be told by Hopper's paintings; it is certainly not Communism. Hopper was a lifelong Republican. So this whole political bullshit is crap.

The movie does a good job recreating the sets/colors of Hopper's paintings, though whereas the main sets are actual sets, the backgrounds are clearly painted. For example, for a Hopper painting that takes place in a room with a window, the corresponding episode in this movie takes place in a set that looks just like the room in the Hopper painting, but whatever is outside the window is clearly painted scenery.

The actress is not pretty at all, though she looks reasonably like the women in Hopper's paintings. (If the women in Hopper's paintings often look similar, there's a reason for it: Hopper's wife Josephine was the model for just about all the women in his paintings; ditto for the men, as Hopper himself was the model for just about all the men in his paintings.) But much of the movie is based on the actress speaking - whether actually speaking or in voice-over – and she has a lisp and there's no way an American director would ever choose her for this role; this Austrial idiot Gustav Deutsch didn't know the damn difference, or maybe he wanted someone who would come real cheap. I looked this Stephanie Cumming up on IMDB, and she has very few entries http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3447387/

Special for CJ: Ms. Cumming does have a nice body. Of the 13 episodes, one is a full-body nude, and two have her just wearing a shirt, you see her ass  Wink

And in an early episode, set in the early 30's, she does a little swing dance. She does a good swing dance. (In just a shirt, with her naked ass swinging, too.)

Anyway, this movie is disappointing. If you're a Commie loser, you're probably love it.

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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2017, 04:49:36 AM »

D & D, thanks for the recommendation of Shirley: Visions of Reality. I love Hopper and like you I was quite thrilled when I saw a film based on Hopper paintings, but I always find it quite boring when a filmmaker literally stuffs his personal opinions about politics down the unwilling audience's throats.

Looking at the links you supplied, it seems to be a movie that should be watched for the visuals (which seem to be great) and nothing else. Sounds familiar.

As for Hopper, Edward Hopper and Film Noir was a never-ending love affair. Hopper loved cinema and not only inspired many (Noir) filmmaker but was in return again inspired by them. He was Noir's muse, as the melancholy, loneliness and isolation in his art found its cinematic equivalent in Noir. Even the lighting in his paintings was perfect for Noir. Hopper's compositions could almost literally be translated onto the screen, and many of his paintings had approximately the aspect ratio of a movie screen.
As you said, his famous Nighthawks is the essence of noir aesthetic distilled and Robert Siodmak literally copied it for his opening shot of The Killers. Hitchcock replicated Hopper's drawing Night Shadows for The 39 Steps.

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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2017, 08:30:53 AM »

Speaking of Hitchcock being inspired by Hopper: the Bates house in PSYCHO was inspired by the house in another of Hopper's most famous paintings, HOUSE BY THE RAILROAD https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78330

Also, you know how, in VERTIGO, Judy's hotel is bathed in green light? I have speculated - and this is a total speculation; I have never seen this mentioned anywhere - that perhaps that was inspired by NIGHTHAWKS, which is also bathed in green light.

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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 09:39:31 AM »

Speaking of Hitchcock being inspired by Hopper: the Bates house in PSYCHO was inspired by the house in another of Hopper's most famous paintings, HOUSE BY THE RAILROAD https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78330

Also, you know how, in VERTIGO, Judy's hotel is bathed in green light? I have speculated - and this is a total speculation; I have never seen this mentioned anywhere - that perhaps that was inspired by NIGHTHAWKS, which is also bathed in green light.

Yea it could be.

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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2017, 11:50:45 AM »

Yes, definitively Psycho. At some time I'll sit down and write a lengthy essay about it all.  Tongue

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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2017, 09:52:22 AM »

Found something that could be quite interesting. A book about stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper. Got a lot of good reviews.

https://www.amazon.com/Sunlight-Shadow-Stories-Inspired-Paintings/dp/1681772450/ref=pd_sim_14_10?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1681772450&pd_rd_r=9F62Y4C4CRB1CW6570YV&pd_rd_w=4z924&pd_rd_wg=b2LE1&psc=1&refRID=9F62Y4C4CRB1CW6570YV

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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2017, 10:04:38 AM »


interesting thanks

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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2017, 04:53:41 PM »


this is another book of writings inspired by Hopper https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Hopper-American-Imagination-Deborah/dp/0393313298/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494456314&sr=1-15&keywords=edward+hopper

Hopper seems to be the most cinematographic, narrative, painter ever. But he himself probably would oppose people reading any "story" into his paintings, as illustrated by this incident (I've seen it slightly different ways in several places with slightly different words, but the gist of it, paraphrased, goes like this) :

Hopper made a painting called Cape Cod Morning; shows a woman looking out a window in the morning http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=10760
Discussing this painting, Hopper's wife Jo commented that the woman is looking to check the weather. Hopper snapped back: What do you think this is, Norman Rockwell?? She's just looking out the window!

 Grin


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