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Finding Inspiration from Moving Pictures

The other day I was looking at Brooke Shaden’s blog and she had done a post on 10 Amazing Fictional Characters That Taught Me Life Lessons.  I looked through all her characters, and I realised, that while, she looks at characters, I have films that I like purely for the visual eye candy, and how they influence my work because of the look of the film.  So today, I thought I would give you my 10 inspirational movies, so for me it is not about characters, but the visual appeal or the ideas/messages in the films.

I spent all day yesterday going through our DVD collection, thinking about what I like and why I like it.  I spent a most of my childhood on farms, or properties, and with only two brothers, I spent a lot of time alone.  Television was my saviour and books. I also spent a lot of time in my head.  I had to use my imagination a lot, so it is wonderful looking at movies and seeing how the imagination of others work.  Afterall, that is what art is, isn’t it, it is about you using your imagination to create work for yourself and for others!

So the movies, I have thought of 10 to tell you about and I have found trailers to most of them, just in case you don’t know the movie.

1. Bedknobs and Broomsticks

600full-bedknobs-and-broomsticks-screenshotImagination was certainly behind this idea.  I first saw this when I was about 8 years old and it was one of the first movies I ever really saw at a drive in theatre.  We didn’t really have movie theatres in the country, so if you wanted to see a movie you went to the drive in.  Of course, the drive in is now closed, but I remember going and I remember being mesmerised by this one.  The magic, going somewhere away from reality.  It was dark in places and colourful in other.  I wanted to be Angela Lansbury’s character and I wanted to be able to use magic to change things, there were times when I wanted to escape from where I was.

2. Picnic at Hanging Rock

936full-picnic-at-hanging-rock-screenshotThis Australian movie was made in the 70’s from a book by Joan Lindsay.  It was about a group of school girls who go on a picnic to Hanging Rock, a rock formation just north of Melbourne near Woodend.  They go there for a picnic in 1900 for St Valentines day.  Four girls wander off and only one comes back.  A search is set up to find the girls.  The movie is done so you almost think it is based on fact rather than fiction.

One of the things that is very distinctive about the film is the music.  Once you hear it, it is something you will never forget and really adds atmosphere to the movie.   Though, for me, the thing that made this movie attractive, were the costumes. I loved the dresses the girls wear, and where the film was shot.  Hanging Rock is beautiful and as my daughter has been learning to drive, we seem to be going near it all the time and I know, I do, that I want to go there and do some similar shots.

3. Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl-with-a-Pearl-Earring-scarlett-johansson-28599819-1280-717Another costume drama, and I am pretty sure you will find that majority of my favourites are.  This one, though the costumes were not as grand as others, it was about their life at that time, and of course, because it was about Vermeer and how he worked.  I do hope that the researches have accurately shown how a painter in that period painted.  I love watching how he sets up his subjects.  The sets were also amazing, and really who doesn’t love Scarlett Johansson, with her milky complexion, I love photographing skin like that.  So if Scarlett is ever reading this, I would love to photograph you and perhaps the next time you are in Melbourne we could organise it.

4. Dark City

dark-city-11Movies like Dark City all go to that question of philosophy and who is really in control, and can you trust your memories.  I love watching this film, not really for the story, which is not bad, but really for the visuals.  The darkness, the lighting, and how it is all put together.  I find it really inspirational to see all the different views of this world that were created for the movie.

5. Brides of Christ

Brides_007_displayThis isn’t really a movie, more a television mini series that was on the early 1990’s.  It was six episodes and was about two girls who became nuns, and about the convent they lived and taught at and some of the students.  It was interesting to watch the women who became nuns, why, and how they lived.  It was great to see nuns as human beings as well.  I’m not catholic, but of course, I know Catholics and what they went through growing up.

Again, another movie that was visually stimulating.  It was set in the Australia in the 1960’s, and in convents.  Convents are often the most amazing buildings.  I loved watching the scenes in all the different places where it was filmed.  There is also the aspect of these women hiding themselves away from the world, only coming out when it was necessary.

I tried to find a trailer for it, but there isn’t much available.

6.  Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful-Creatures-Lena-Duchannes-1350x2400You can see straight away, I think, why I love this film.  I don’t really know the story, I will admit, but I love looking at it.  The costumes, the settings, they are all visually appealing to me.  I love films that you can just watch and it doesn’t matter about the story.

This is a new one for me, and it is a relatively new film.  My daughter loves it, and watches it quite a bit, so I am always seeing parts of it.

7. Muriel’s Wedding

muriels_weddingWho doesn’t love Muriel’s Wedding, or Muriel?  One of the best Australian Movies ever, well if you ask me.  The character of Muriel is one so many of us can identify with.  Not all of her, but I think most women would find a little something of Muriel in themselves.  Then there are the clothes, well what she wears, I think I would love to have the courage to wear what I liked.  I love Muriel.

8. Elizabeth

Article4.cate-blanchett-elizabethLook at the image above and you have to know why I love this movie and why it is inspirational to me.  The costumes are the number one reason and also the time it is set.  There is something so appealing to me about the 15th and 16th century.  The lives people lead, well for royalty and the aristocracy.  It is so interesting.  A beautiful costume drama and I want some of the those costumes for my images.  It would be wonderful, though, maybe use a modern take on them.

9. The Matrix

2This is one of the those films, though I mean all three, that I don’t necessarily think the story line is very good.  There are major problems with consistency and things making sense, but it was a film that I was really attracted to and still am.  I do have them on DVD and I do watch them often.  I find them visually stimulating and love watching certain parts of them.  I mostly like the bits they do that are outside the Matrix and in the “real” world.  Abandonment and what happens when humans have destroyed the planet has often been a theme of my work.

I first saw the Matrix when I went to back to study art and for me watching it also takes me back to that time of trying to sort out what I wanted and where I wanted to go.

10.  Lord of the Rings

Celeborn-and-Galadriel-galadriel-and-celeborn-9546924-943-526This trilogy is the best eye candy ever.  I love the story, I love the costumes, I love the settings, I love the characters.  It is probably the film/s I watch more than any other.  I love seeing all the details that have gone into it.  I find so much inspiration from this film, and it often informs work that I do.  A story that doesn’t appear to be set in any real time, yet there are things in it that allude to certain time periods.  There is that medieval aspect, which I have spoken about before, that I really love.  So many characters that are different, and each with their own way of dressing.  I would love to have been allowed to follow the making of this and to have taken my own photos.  It would have been such an amazing experience.

There you have my top 10 inspirational films.  It was such a hard thing to do.  There are probably more, but they are the ones I thought of for this.  I think you will understand that some are far more inspirational than others, and some were once, but not so much now.  It is a great thing to do, have you done it, worked out what films inspire you and influence what you do?

69 Comments
  1. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) #

    Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of my all time favourite movies simply and purely for the light. It’s amazing and every time I watch it, I am transported and inspired to look for interesting light situations in photography subjects.

    August 20, 2013
    • Oh yes, the light, Vermeer was also good at that in his paintings.

      August 20, 2013
  2. I have not seen all of these. But the ones I have seen – Elizabeth, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, have some stunning images.

    August 20, 2013
    • The images are so amazing. I think you should see if you can see the Australian ones, I have a feeling you would love them, especially Muriel’s Wedding, my daughters and I all love watching that one. It is very funny.

      August 20, 2013
  3. Great movies Leanne! Especially Matrix and Lord of The Rings. The 15th and 16th centuries are so fascinating! How fun we have that in common. One reason I am so interested in the United Kingdom.

    August 20, 2013
    • I think for me it has something to do with my fathers family coming from Scotland, there is something about old castles and big long dresses. I am sure it isn’t the dresses for you, but I love them. 🙂

      August 20, 2013
  4. I’ve seen all of these and agree with you. Coincidentally, I saw Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the drive-in too.

    August 20, 2013
    • How funny is that, I wonder how many people did see it at the drive in? Glad you like my list.

      August 20, 2013
  5. There’s a story in every one of your pictures. Maybe a whole book!

    August 20, 2013
    • It’s funny you say that as I was talking to a friend the other day who said my art work has always had some sort of narrative, which I hadn’t thought about, seems it is important. Thanks

      August 20, 2013
  6. Elizabeth… Do you remember the statues that leaned in and seemed to be listening, and the sheers in Elizabeth’s bedchamber that were printed with eyes… that seemed to be watching? Such a beautiful film, as were all on your list.

    August 20, 2013
    • It is a beautiful film, though I always get lost in the costumes, I will have to go back and take a little more notice now, look at more.

      August 20, 2013
  7. I haven’t seen Girl With a Pearl Earring, but I need to! And I’m sure the cinematography is as good as the film. And the movie, Elizabeth, is also one of my favorites because you see someone of royalty who is a prisoner of her birth, more so than privileged, an absolutely haunting film, I think, with a lot of powerful images like the one you depict in your post. And, overall, even if you’re not a photographer, the light and the art come through for your average moviegoer and affect your perception of the film, I think. Often, though the thing that draws me to a film is not the light as it did in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – but the darkness like DARK CITY or PITCH BLACK or MAX PAYNE. However, thank you for mentioning Bedknobs and Broomsticks, such an incredible film that brought back a lot of memories, regardless of why it’s mentioned! 🙂

    August 20, 2013
    • Yes, do see Girl with a Pearl Earring, fantastic. I like darkness in films too, but I think for me, costumes is always going to be a winner and a great set, as I said, sometimes the actual story is not even important as long as it has one or both of those. I am a sucker for big dresses, always have been. I love long big dresses. Not sure about the corsets, but love the style and the elegance of them.

      August 20, 2013
      • Me too! 🙂

        August 21, 2013
      • I really want to put them in my images, but I need to modernise them somehow, my mind is going wild now. 🙂

        August 21, 2013
  8. I would add “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for visual beauty and the strong woman warrior in it. Oh yeah. Interesting list, Leanne Cole.

    August 20, 2013
    • You are not the first person to mention that one, and we do have it on DVD, but I have never got around to watching it, I think I better. Thank you.

      August 20, 2013
      • Just to get you motivated–if you don’t want a video link, that’s okay, I won’t mind if your edit it out. But will share for sharing sake. http://youtu.be/iv_ed5VmoD8

        August 21, 2013
      • Haha, I don’t mind the link. I will check it out, thanks.

        August 21, 2013
      • Looks like it might be on the playlist today, thanks for the link, it worked to get me motivated.

        August 21, 2013
  9. I only saw three of these movies and didn’t like one of them (The Matrix). We visited the Netherlands last year and learned a lot about the art from the Dutch Golden Age. The The Girl with the Pearl Earring sort of followed us home. Vermeer’s famous painting was exhibited in a San Francisco museum for four months earlier this year and we saw the movie during this time. We liked LOTR mainly because of the scenery and when we visited New Zealand in 2011 we discovered that we liked the people as much as the scenery!

    August 20, 2013
    • I know many people that don’t like the Matrix, the actual story is not very good and the acting is so so, but I love it visually. I just like watching what happens behind the story, if that makes sense. Art from the Dutch Golden Age is just beautiful, the real one will never come to Australia, I don’t think, we have seen some of his other non important stuff. I love the scenery in LOTR, I would love to go there and look at it, take photos of people in it, that would be pretty incredible. New Zealand is a lovely place, or so I have heard and the people, I think are similar to us.

      August 20, 2013
  10. That made my night. Thanks!

    August 20, 2013
  11. ciao! great exercise…films do inspire….you’ve got me thinking of the 10
    that inspired me. great post.
    thebestdressup

    August 20, 2013
    • It is a great exercise, but not as easy as you would think. Took me ages. Thanks.

      August 20, 2013
  12. Did you know that Joan Lindsay wrote a final chapter for ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ that the publishers, and the film makers, took out? It explains what actually happened to the girls, and it isn’t what you think. (Worth a Wiki-search if you’ve ever wondered. It explains everything, but in a way you’d never expect.)

    August 20, 2013
    • Yes, I did know that, I remember when they released it, and I did the looking it up, was very disappointed. I think the editors decided that it was better without it and didn’t publish it and when they made the movie, I don’t anyone really knew then that there was another chapter, I think, don’t quote me on this, but it wasn’t released until after she died. The book creating its own mystery, quite funny.

      August 20, 2013
  13. I always consider Motion Pictures are the closest relative to still photography. And can a mental “freeze frame” and just imagine how it’d look as if they were a print. Motion pictures has some of the best lighting.

    August 20, 2013
    • Yes, motion pictures can be masters of lighting and you can learn a lot by watching them. I like what you say about the comparisons, great.

      August 20, 2013
  14. Reblogged this on Icanbeatit.

    August 20, 2013
  15. desfischersseele #

    I see we have a very similar taste. And most of the movies I’ve seen. Picnic at Hanging Rock was once again recently shown on German television even as a repeat. I think my favorite would be Elizabeth. Or no, but rather matrix … or Lord of the Rings?

    August 20, 2013
    • That is great, they are great movies. I can’t believe Picnic at Hanging Rock was on there, I can’t remember the last time it played here. Though I haven’t been looking for it. Haha, I found myself doing the same as I looking at them. Lord of the Rings was the first movie I thought of though.

      August 20, 2013
  16. Oh no! I haven’t seen any of them. But I gave up fils when they introduced colour 😊

    August 20, 2013
    • Hahahahahahaha that is too funny Andrew. 🙂

      August 20, 2013
  17. “Bide your time and everything will become clear…and you can act accordingly.” _ Terence Stamp in The Limey – Another great lesson from the world of film…

    August 20, 2013
    • I like that Robert, it is a great lesson. Thanks

      August 20, 2013
  18. I need to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Elizabeth and Muriel’s Wedding. Have you seen Gatsby? Great costumes!!

    August 20, 2013
    • Muriel’s wedding is so funny, though it might be a very Australian type of funny, I thought she was fantastic. The other two are great as well. I haven’t seen Gatsby, I was told it wasn’t very good, but I had considered the costumes, I will have to know. Thanks.

      August 21, 2013
  19. These are wonderful inspirations! It’s easy to see the influence of some of them on your work!

    August 21, 2013
    • Thank you, I think you are right, and I know that once I thought about it, some of them were very obvious.

      August 21, 2013
  20. Cynthia #

    An amazing list. I’m adding Picnic at Hanging Rock to my movie rental list. I’ve never seen it. Look forward to hearing the music. 😉

    August 21, 2013
    • If you watch the youtube trailer you will hear the music, it is on there. Just be prepared, the movie was made in the 70’s and it is pretty slow, but visually it is a lovely movie. 🙂

      August 21, 2013
  21. Reblogged this on deejayiwan.

    August 21, 2013
  22. Leanne, you must be the only other person in the world who loves “Picnic at Hanging Rock” as much as I do. No one else in my family appreciates it and they all think I’m weird because I like it so much. The cinematography is stunning and I loved Miranda. I was so excited when we finally went to Hanging Rock, but it freaked my girls out. On the other hand, my daughter can’t stand Muriel and we always make fun of her. Her worst nightmare came true when it was part of her senior English studies in year 12.

    August 21, 2013
    • I haven’t actually seen it for a few years, but I think I should see if I can find it on DVD. I love the costumes. I have been there once, many years ago, it was my first outing when I got my first slr camera. I want to go back with my daughter to take photos of her with the rock as the background. I love Muriel’s wedding and so do my daughters, I think there is something so relate-able about her. She is just brilliant, I don’t want to be her though.

      August 21, 2013
      • I have the DVD.

        August 21, 2013
      • Lucky you, so it is available, I might have to look for it and see if I can get it.

        August 21, 2013
      • If I lived in Melbourne we could have a PAHR appreciation evening!

        August 21, 2013
      • That would be so cool, so much fun. What a shame we are so far away from one another.

        August 21, 2013
      • Oh well, it’s a fun thought anyway! I am going to tell my family I have found a PAHR kindred spirit.

        August 21, 2013
      • Does that mean they will think I am crazy, hahaha.

        August 21, 2013
      • Probably, but who asked them anyway!

        August 21, 2013
      • Hahahaha, exactly.

        August 21, 2013
  23. Bedknobs and Broomsticks! I Love, Love, Love that movie!

    Substitutiary locomotion is the key!

    Traguna, macoides, tracorum sadis dee! I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times i’ve watched this movie…. nearly as many times as LOTR (like you, I think it’s probably the movies I’ve watched most — the whole thing is just beautiful to watch!)

    August 21, 2013
    • Haha, you really are a fan, I haven’t seen it for a while, I did watch it again with my children. It was great to see it again.

      August 21, 2013
  24. I ADORE Bedknobs and Broomsticks! Haven’t seen it since the kids were little – must find a copy for the Grand’s now!
    Totally agree with all your choices (I saw Picnic at Hanging Rock on HBO a while back) and would add Out of Africa and Passage to India for myself – stunning vistas, amazing landscapes.

    August 21, 2013
    • Yes, Niko and Angel will love it.
      I saw Out of Africa, but a long time again, I don’t think I have seen Passage to India. There are so many really good films, I was having a hard time working out which ones actually inspired me as opposed to which ones I just love to watch, LOL. Thanks Marie.

      August 22, 2013
  25. It impossible not to lose yourself in these movies due to the emphasis placed on costume and detail… we watched The Hobbit last weekend, and it was if I was absorbed into it… it’s quite a long movie but went quickly. I remember that same absorption in the novel, and at the time of Picnic at Hanging Rock, both the novel and the film. I see very clearly these influences your work, and it was a great idea to use the premise to share this.

    August 23, 2013
    • I love love love a good period drama, with big big dresses. The Hobbit is fantastic. Thank you EllaDee, glad you enjoyed seeing what movies inspire me.

      August 23, 2013
  26. Though I haven’t seen all of these, I do watch films mostly for the techniques used.

    For instance, the George Clooney film, “O, Brother, where art thou?”, which I own, had an extra feature explaining how they used a special color process to get a ‘drier’ look to it. I, then, began experimenting with Color Balance and Selective Colors in Photoshop, to give my stills a different look than ‘regular’ images might have. I feel I’ve been pretty successful.

    “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is sensational…the director did his utmost to control the lighting and color processing to get the true ‘feel’ of Vermeer’s time.

    It’s a good thing to do, Leanne, looking at others’ work, then sorting things out and finding a new way to present images!

    August 25, 2013
    • I love watching films for similar things.
      I don’t know the George Clooney film, but that is interesting, I have to admit I have done similar with Lord of the Rings, sometimes the special features are more interesting.
      Vermeer is one of my favourite artists, and the movie didn’t change that.
      I think so, it is good to study others, and films are great to study.

      August 25, 2013
      • I have a Vermeer ‘coffe table-sized book, about 15″ high and 14″ wide, with full-page repros of his paintings. I love just sitting and studying his work, and that of Leonardo and many others. It helps with photo composition I feel, and color perception.

        August 26, 2013
      • I love art books and have a number myself, including one on Vermeer. My favourite is a series of books in a box on Edward Hopper, I have other books on him as well. I don’t think I have one on Leonardo though.

        August 26, 2013
      • The ones I have on Leonardo are also huge, and show full-page close-up of portions of all his paintings, and the other shows all his sketches/drawings, many reproduced in the reddish-sienna chalk he was so fond of using. I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying in both of these, and though I draw well (when I FEEL like drawing!), I’ll never be as good as he was.

        August 28, 2013
      • Leonardo was a master that is for sure. It is good to study masters.

        August 28, 2013
  27. I love this post, seeing what you see. It is very interesting to learn what inspires a visual artist. My mom was like that, very visual, and it was interesting to be around her throughout her life. Even during the long period when she had almost no memory, her visual sense was not at all changed. Her sense of aesthetics persisted despite a lot of brain damage.

    Yes, movies inspire me but TV shows do more so. I am looking at what the writers are doing and marveling and literally taking things I notice and the ideas they inspire in me and applying it to my own work-in-progress. For example, I’m very interested in how they are handling the romance and the heroes in a show called Necessary Roughness (which we purchased from Amazon Video on Demand and project from the computer onto a movie screen, very hi-tech hubby!) So as a writer I am always looking at how the story arcs are put together. There are commonalities in story telling (The Hero’s Journey is a huge one in Hollywood, and there are classic romance and character arcs as well) and so I am always watching for these.

    This discussion also reminds me that I finally clicked onto a key aspect I decided to mine in my “voice” as we call it, and it was through movies. Old movies with very snappy dialogue and very feisty women: His Girl Friday, Philadelphia Story and To Have and Have Not.

    You have inspired me, so I’m going to do some writing!

    August 29, 2013
    • I am a very visual person, so visual that you can’t tell me directions, you have to show me, I like to see what I have to do, if that makes any sense. Show me don’t tell me, that is how I learn.

      I love many tv shows too, but as most of them are fairly modern day dramas I don’t get the same inspiration from them as I do from movies. I am sure you could tell I love the period dramas. Though Game of Thrones is pretty good in that respect. I love romance stuff too, I don’t find it as inspirational the way you do, but I love watching them. Now if they are wearing big dresses, well, then I would find some inspiration. I haven’t heard of that show that you referred to. Sounds like a great way to watch tv, we have a big television, but nothing like that, it wouldn’t work in the room we have, it is too light.

      I am so glad that the post helped you to sort of out some things in your own writing. Sounds like you had a light bulb moment, I am really happy that I helped with that.
      Yes, go do lots of writing, thanks Nia.

      August 29, 2013

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