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MatViola
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« on: April 22, 2010, 04:33:12 PM »

I just read the following quote from Frayling in an interview posted on this site: "Leone showed Tonino Delli Colli the paintings and engravings of Rembrandt before shooting 'Once Upon A Time in The West'. The monocohrome darkness and portraits of faces. Not portraits of aristocrats but ordinary people like his (Rembrandt's) mother, his friends, someone he met in the street. Rembrandt invented the physiological portrait. In that film you can read the person's history on his face".

Does anyone know of any specific paintings, by Rembrandt or anyone else, that inspired the look of OUATITW. I swear I saw something on this site once that compared shots from Leone films to specific paintings. Does anyone remember where that might be?

Thanks,

Mat

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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2010, 06:15:54 PM »

Well I think it was Giorgio de Chirico surrealist paintings that inspired the camera angles and compositions of the larger shots i.e. the landscapes the town shots etc., while as you say Rembrandt for the closeups.

Here are some of de Chirico's paintings:











I also remember a discussion of Leone's influence on Kubric's "Barry Lyndon" and his (Kubric's) reference of the paintings of Canaletto.

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MatViola
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2010, 07:29:57 PM »

Yeah, I was just reading Frayling's discussion of Leone's favorite painters. He cites the following:

Edgar Vegas
Max Ernst
Magritte
Giorgio De Chirico
Miro
Velasquez
Vermeer
Goya
Rembrandt
George Grodz
Otto Dix

So, I quickly Googled these painters and took a look at some of their work. I have to say I didn't find a single painting that struck me as having an obvious resemblance to anything in Leone's films. Maybe the influences are too subtle for this untrained eye to detect, I don't know.

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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2010, 02:17:49 AM »

I know practically nothing about paintings but here are some notions I made while googling those painters mentioned ^

I can't see Vegas in Leone's work, either. There's something in the way Ernst uses light that resembles Leone's films. Evidently Leone was a big fan of surrealists, like Ernst, Magritte, de Chirico and Miro, which shows in many individual scenes like Tuco and Blondie's journey through the desert, the three way duel, the ridiculously big stagecoach in DYS etc. plus the whole way of cinematic thinking: Leone didn't let logic restrict his work.

Was this the painting that inspired the execution scene in DYS?


Girgio de Chirico's influence on Leone's westerns is impossible to deny; just see some of his paintings. The long shadows and especially the Mediterranean style arches seem very familiar to anyone who's seen AFoD. Margitte's blue skies with pure white clouds appear in Leone's films, too.

Vermeer I just can't see in Leone's films, not in any obvious way. His light is always pure white or bluish, coming through a window; not very leonesque, IMO. But I think it's safe to say that Vermeer has had some kind of effect on everyone working with visual media.

Rembrandt is more present in OUATIA than in Leone's westerns, but there are a couple of scenes in them, too, where I see Rembrandt: most notably the bar scene in OUATITW.

One thing yet: Frayling, or somebody else on the OUATITW commentary (I can't remember who), talked about High Noon during the scene where Frank's own men try to shoot him in the town, saying that the empty clock face was an homage to that movie. I haven't seen High Noon but that scene reminds me somehow of the Dali painting with the melting clocks. Cheesy

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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2010, 02:29:16 AM »


One thing yet: Frayling, or somebody else on the OUATITW commentary (I can't remember who), talked about High Noon during the scene where Frank's own men try to shoot him in the town, saying that the empty clock face was an homage to that movie. I haven't seen High Noon but that scene reminds me somehow of the Dali painting with the melting clocks. Cheesy
Or the dream sequence (no doubt itself inspired by Dali) that opens Wild Strawberries ? Smiley

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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2010, 02:57:30 AM »

Or the dream sequence (no doubt itself inspired by Dali) that opens Wild Strawberries ? Smiley
I haven't seen Wild Strawberries either but I guess this is the scene you're talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgtTBAQjK3w&feature=related It really has a strong resemblance. Only if we knew whether Leone ever saw the movie or not... It's somehow hard for me to imagine that he would have been a huge Bergman fan.  Cheesy

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MatViola
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2010, 06:18:26 AM »

Thanks for the comments, moviesceleton. I agree with you about the arches in de Chirico's paintings, however, that seems to have inspired Simi's art/set direction more than Delli Colli's cinematography/lighting. Frayling says that Leone and Delli Colli discussed certain paintings/painters before shooting OUATITW, but although the lighting is very "painterly" I haven't yet seen any single painting that jumps out at me as obviously having an influence.

You mention the bar scene in OUATITW: I assume you're talking about the Monument Valley rest stop scene (and not the scene towards the end at the Flagstone saloon). Is there a particular painting you had in mind?

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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2010, 07:59:13 AM »

Thanks for the comments, moviesceleton. I agree with you about the arches in de Chirico's paintings, however, that seems to have inspired Simi's art/set direction more than Delli Colli's cinematography/lighting. Frayling says that Leone and Delli Colli discussed certain paintings/painters before shooting OUATITW, but although the lighting is very "painterly" I haven't yet seen any single painting that jumps out at me as obviously having an influence.

You mention the bar scene in OUATITW: I assume you're talking about the Monument Valley rest stop scene (and not the scene towards the end at the Flagstone saloon). Is there a particular painting you had in mind?
Yea, I meant the Monument Valley scene. Not any particular painting, just the way Rembrandt often uses dark environments with a kind of a spotlight highlighting certain elements, most often human faces. I think that scene has a similar thing going.

I highly doubt that Leone would have copied any paintings directly into his movies, except for one that Frayling mentions on the DYS commentary. I can't remember which painting it was or even who was the artist, but I have a feeling it was the one I posted in my first post.

My guess is that paintings were just inspiration for Leone, not a source of ready compositions and pictures to choose from for takes in films. And probably a handy tool for telling what he wanted. People who collaborate a lot with each other often develop a language of their own; I imagine that Leone could just mention some painting or artist to Delli Colli and he'd know what Leone was aiming at. But that's all just speculation, of course.

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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2010, 08:32:54 AM »

I'm not suggesting that Leone would outright copy a painting, of course. I'm simply looking for a specific painting bearing a similarity to the lighting used in OUATITW. So far, I really haven't seen much that bears more than a marginal resemblance. Certainly those de Chirico paintings Cigar Joe posted do not.  They don't remind me of the lighting in OUATITW at all.

In Frayling's Once Upon a Time in Italy, Fralyling asks Delli Colli point blank: "But didn't SL use paintings as reference points for the visuals? Giorgio De Chirico, for example?"

Delli Colli's reply: "While we were actually working, we didn't refer to paintings. Sometimes we referred to them during the preparation stage as a kind of shorthand for costumes and sets., but that's about it. For documentation rather than composition. Maybe for lighting, sometimes...I don't remember De Chirico. The resemblance could be by accident."

The part that interests me the most is when he says "maybe the lighting, sometimes." I guess what I'm really looking for is a painting that I could put up against a frame from the film and see a definite similarity.

 

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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2010, 03:25:19 PM »

In OUATIA, the easiest to spot, to me, is Degas (although I have to admit every time you see a girle dancing you can think about Degas):




More that the common subject of the pictures, we find in these images the same use of sepia: low contrast, and "burnt" white to underline where the viewer's eye is supposed to focus.



In CJ's post, the use of lighting is quite stricking: in GBU and OUATITW wide shots, you always have these very low sun projecting all the shadows almost directly toward the camera. Never a real back light, but always close.
The composition is also quite familiar with some OUATITW compositions. For instance, the use of a vertical line right in the middle of the picture (which is against all the "rules" of composition, hence it gives always an akward feeling to the pictures where it is used): one of the first shots of Elam, for example.


« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 03:49:33 PM by noodles_leone » Logged


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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2010, 02:44:12 PM »

Nice little quote from here from an article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2000/feb/19/1) in a UK newspaper:

"Frayling believes Leone's visceral grasp of imagery, the way he put together Ennio Morricone's music, sun and shadow, made him an artist of collages - the preferred surrealist technique. (He once saw a surrealist painting by De Chirico that Leone bought the year he made The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: high-contrast light on a colonnade and on a cow-catchered western locomotive - the whole movie on a small canvas.) That made Leone, in Baudrillard's description, the first postmodernist director, "the first to understand the hall of mirrors within the contemporary culture of quotations"."

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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 06:54:20 AM »

RE: OUATIA: Yeah Degas made many paintings with girls dancing, that influenced the scene of Young Deborah dancing, according to Frayling. Here is Degas's gallery on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degas#Gallery

but IMO this one may have influenced that scene very much http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edgar_Degas_-_Dance_Class.jpg (note the mirror in back)

 although the lighting may seem a bit closer to this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas_004.jpg

Frayling also mentioned Edward Hopper as being an influence on OUATIA; his wikipedia gallery here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Hopper -- does anyone see any influences on composition and/or lighting to OUATIA?


And Leone said that the design of Peggy's brothel is based on Gustav Klimt; his wikipedia gallery here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Klimt#Gallery (I can't figure out where that came from... I presume Leone was referring to the physical design of the building and not all the naked chicks  Grin)

« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 07:01:48 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 06:58:55 AM »




as for the 3rd of May 1808 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:El_Tres_de_Mayo,_by_Francisco_de_Goya,_from_Prado_thin_black_margin.jpg

According to Frayling:


 it was one of Leone's favorite paintings, and as mentioned above by moviesceleton, influenced the firing squad scene in DYS. When Tonino Delli Colli first saw it, he exclaimed, "Oh My God! Goya invented backlighting!"


The way the desert sequences of GBU were shot, was very influenced by surrealist painters.


This is very far-fetched, but what about this Monet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Claude_Monet_011.jpg as an influence on Tuco with the parasol riding the horse as Blondie down on the ground stumbles along (I know Money was Impressionist, but wtf, I just couldn't resist the idea of the big figure of Tuco on the horse with the parasol towering over Blondie walking (and then crawling) ahead



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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2012, 09:05:19 AM »

Frayling also mentioned Edward Hopper as being an influence on OUATIA; his wikipedia gallery here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Hopper -- does anyone see any influences on composition and/or lighting to OUATIA?

Well the only visible influence, to me, is Hopper's most famous work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nighthawks
Of course, the extended shot from outside Fat Moe's (when the old Noodles calls him from the phone boot) uses a similar idea, but it's not a very original idea. It may be more about the meaning. That painting is very often shown in exhibitions about America. It really captures something about America. Anyone, seeing this picture, knows it's in America and not anywhere else, although there is no evidence of that.
So may be it's just about the feeling/meaning rather than real composition/colors.


And Leone said that the design of Peggy's brothel is based on Gustav Klimt; his wikipedia gallery here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Klimt#Gallery (I can't figure out where that came from... I presume Leone was referring to the physical design of the building and not all the naked chicks  Grin)

Again, I think it's more about an atmosphere than anything else. i'm not even sure Klimt ever painted a room. He was far more into portraits.


OFF TOPIC: when I search for "ouatia fat moe's" on Google Image, I get pictures of CJ and DJ! https://www.google.fr/search?sugexp=chrome,mod%3D15&q=ouatia+extended+shot&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=fr&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=NnwFUKHoJKic0QWW8NTVBw&biw=1440&bih=785&sei=OHwFUK70Mcqi0QWjgeHdBw#um=1&hl=fr&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ZHwFUO1f547QBbvkxMAH&ved=0CEEQBSgA&q=ouatia+fat+moe%27s&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=5415c953d8c07667&biw=1440&bih=785

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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 08:22:33 PM »

Well the only visible influence, to me, is Hopper's most famous work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nighthawks
Of course, the extended shot from outside Fat Moe's (when the old Noodles calls him from the phone boot) uses a similar idea, but it's not a very original idea. It may be more about the meaning. That painting is very often shown in exhibitions about America. It really captures something about America. Anyone, seeing this picture, knows it's in America and not anywhere else, although there is no evidence of that.
So may be it's just about the feeling/meaning rather than real composition/colors.

....

OFF TOPIC: when I search for "ouatia fat moe's" on Google Image, I get pictures of CJ and DJ! https://www.google.fr/search?sugexp=chrome,mod%3D15&q=ouatia+extended+shot&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=fr&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=NnwFUKHoJKic0QWW8NTVBw&biw=1440&bih=785&sei=OHwFUK70Mcqi0QWjgeHdBw#um=1&hl=fr&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ZHwFUO1f547QBbvkxMAH&ved=0CEEQBSgA&q=ouatia+fat+moe%27s&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=5415c953d8c07667&biw=1440&bih=785

haha nice! you even see Groggy's signature in there!

btw, Fat Moe's was not a real bar; it was a set, shot in Rome. The exteriors of the street outside Fat Moe's was a street in Williambsurgh, Brooklyn. They rebuilt part of the street, detail by detail, in Rome, so that when they filmed the interiors, the street outside the restaurant would look the same as it does for the big exterior scenes shot in Williamsburgh. Also, the wide alley on the side of Fat Moe's was in Rome, cuz there was no space for such a alley in Williamsburgh. So for those scenes on that street near Fat Moe's: for the interiors of the restaurant (and the speakeasy and back room/office, that was all in Rome. The scenes in the alley (eg. the boys being beaten up, Young Noodles sneaking into the restaurant after Deborah) were in Rome. But for the big exterior scenes on that street, that was done in Williamsburg. Unfortunately, the street today doesn't look anything like it was in the movie. Apparently, there was an empty lot on which they built only the exterior of Fat Moe's; when cj, dj, and I visited that street, it looked completely different: a building had been built in what was then the lot that Far Moe's was built on. And all the buildings in the movie had been re-dressed with period exteriors, and signs to make it seem like Jewish shops of the Lower East Side. So it's completely different; if you walk down that street today, you wouldn't recognize it. I couldn't even believe that the street I was standing on was the same on. Ditto for the street where Noodles drives down, near the river, upon his return in 1968: now, they have built a huge kosher catering hall right near the water, so it looks completely different than it was then.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 12:35:19 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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