Monday, 16 May 2011

The Influence Of Edward Hopper

Considering a question recently posted on a film forum about whether it is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of art history in order to appreciate good cinema, I revert to the influence a painter had on a series of filmmakers. Edward Hopper, the American realist painter who lived between 1882 to 1967.

It is interesting to observe Hopper’s cinematic compositions and dramatic use of light and dark in his large collection offal paintings. This specific use of dramatic light has made Hopper a favorite among filmmakers. For example, the house in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Psycho, is taken from the painting, House by the Railroad. The same painting has also been cited as being an influence on the home in the Terrence Malick film Days of Heaven. German director Wim Wenders also cites Hopper in The End of Violence (1997). This film incorporates a tableau vivant of Nighthawks, recreated by actors. The diner and the patrons in Nighthawks is noted by surrealist horror film director Dario Argento, where he blatantly recreated the diner as part of a set for his 1976 film Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso). The same painting has been cited by Ridley Scott as a visual inspiration for Blade Runner.

The paintings of Hopper has continually been a source of inspiration for filmmakers in the establishment of the lighting of scenes. This array of influences Hopper’s paintings depicts, answers the question of whether it is necessary for a film appreciator to have a knowledge of art by showing the intense link that exists between art forms as an inevitable collaboration between different, yet not so different mediums.

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