BIG EYES

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“She painted it. He sold it. And everyone bought it.”
A few weeks ago, I checked out Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” from my town’s library, and had forgot about it. I kept on renewing it so it was never overdue, but upon finding out I couldn’t renew it anymore, I scrambled to find a good time to settle down and watch it. So just the other day, I was having a bit of a lazy day, and I decided that instead of watching reruns of Friends or Scrubs, I would turn on that movie to listen to while I drew.

It turned out that not much drawing was done because I had most of my attention on my computer watching the movie. It did not only include one of my favorite things (art), but it had wonderfully dynamic characters including a strong female lead, nostalgic 50s scenes and it was all a true story!

In summary, it starts out with Margret Keane walking out on her husband with her daughter, which is a very risky and unusual thing for a woman in the 1950’s to do. It shows her driving to a new place to start fresh, which happens to be San Francisco, which is where she enters art fairs in order to try and make money off of her work. A seemingly innocent young man approaches her venue at one of these fairs and tells her she’s selling herself short because she has enormous talent. Obviously charmed by the man, they begin to spend more and more time together. And when Margret gets a letter in the mail saying her ex-husband is attempting to claim full custody for her daughter because Margret is an unfit mother, the man, Walter, asks her to marry him so he can provide for them. After a brief moment of consideration she quickly agrees and they are whisked into the honeymoon stage of vacations and painting together. What Margret doesn’t know is that Walter is struggling to make a career in the art industry. He paints landscapes of Paris streets and it just isn’t enough to stand out. So when he hosts a “Keane Gallery” in a local bar, and see’s his wife’s paintings are much more popular than his own, he takes credit for her paintings when a customer accidentally mistakes him for the artist. Margret finds out, and lets it slide for the sake of making money off of her work. Except it quickly spirals out of control as the paintings gain popularity and Walter is thirsty for the fame. Margret creates more and more paintings and he sells them under his own name. While she is furious about letting this happen, she is afraid to stand up for herself because not only will Walter unhinge on her and her daughter, but the art world may cease to take her work seriously. So she continues to paint. It gets to the point where she has to lock the whole world out including her own daughter to hide the couple’s terrible secret. It all comes down to one painting, one “statement piece” for the Keane art empire. Margret tries to deliver this masterpiece, but when art critics find it unsatisfactory, Walter becomes infuriated. He drinks until he is drunk, and then throws matches at his wife and daughter until he burns down the whole art studio with all the paintings. Margret and her daughter flee once again from the maniac and seek refuge in Hawaii, a place always considered a paradise to Margret. There she meets people who inspire her to take a stand for herself. So she goes on the local news network to release her secret and soon it is international and is taken to court, where she wins her rights to all of her paintings and then money she made from them.

Now onto what made me enjoy the movie as much as I did. As you know I love art (here’s why), so at the library when I saw this movie by my favorite director about an art scandal? I almost died a little inside. I snatched it up off the shelf and brought it home and that was that. During the movie, the audience was constantly exposed to Margret Keane’s art work, and art studios that for sure satisfied my aesthetic. You could say I watched with “Big Eyes” as her sketches turned into drawings which turned into beautiful paintings which turned into an art empire. As much as I hate when people watch me paint, I loved getting to watch her paint her incredible masterpieces, and it inspired me to break out my acryllics as well and practice with them.

Secondly, I really liked getting to see the evolution of the characters throughout the movie. In the beginning, Margret was down on her luck after walking out on her husband, causing her to be weak and fragile and just overall very meak as a woman. Walter is seen as this big popular artist that can sell his paintings for tons of money and is extremely charming. Of course, as the story goes on, they change. Walter slowly but surely begins to become more and more controlling until he is not the man that he was before. He would lock his wife up and force her to paint, hide her from her friends, keep her as his own source of income so that he can afford fancy houses and cars and pools, and be the man he wanted to be from his own art. He ends up a desperate man as he attempts to make excuses in court and act as his own attorney. We see what once was a confident man crumble into a heap of failed artwork and alcohol. While quite the oppostie, Margret gets stronger and stronger as the story goes on. She begins as quiet, where she does what she is told, and nothing more. But as the story goes on, we see her become more and more frustrated with where her life had gone and what is happening. She starts to speak up for herself more, and by the end she tells her story to the whole world. Not only does she tell the truth but she has to make sure that his crazy lies don’t make people think anything besides the truth. It takes a lot of strength to stand up to someone that had dominated you like that for so long and had even been a threat to you and your family at some point. Margret’s strength towards the end of the story is why I mentioned that I liked the book because of the strong female lead. She knows what is right and what is wrong and now she knows that she doesn’t have to put up with it if she doesn’t want to, and obviously she showed people that just because you are a woman, you don’t have to subject to that kind of treatment. And not only women, everyone.

Finally, with the movie taking place in the 1950’s and 1960’s there was a lot of gorgeous scenery such as the San Francisco Area, and their neighborhoods, along with gorgeous dresses and costumes in general. Overall, while the actual plot was unveiling there was always a gorgeous back drop that stayed true to the time period, making the story even more beautiful than before.

In the end, I really enjoyed this movie and was very glad that I watched it, it was interesting, inspiring and overall a good movie. I’ve been working on a new post that goes with some pictures that I’m planning on putting up later and hopefully it will be up soon!

-Lily

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