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Monday, August 08, 2005

Of Haystacks and Chocolate Factories: Brief Thoughts on Inspiration

Much has been made of the fact that Tim Burton's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not entirely faithful to the book. Even if you haven't seen the film (which is delectable), you probably know that a backstory was added to explain Wonka's psyche. This tinkering stoked the wrath--or at least suspicion--of several critics, but many critics were also quick to point out that the new movie is more faithful to the spirit of the book than the old movie, and so forth.

To which I say, the critics are missing the point entirely. When art (such as Dahl's book) inspires more art (such as the films based on said book), the retelling should be no more faithful to the original than Monet's paintings to actual haystacks. Unless the filmmaker has a new vision for his book-of-inspiration, he is no better than a wedding band attempting another "true" rendition of "Unforgettable" (although hopefully his inspiration is more potent than that overplayed piece of schmaltz. Apologies to Nat King Cole. May he rest in peace.) Let's face it, the most boring and crass art EVER was Superrealism, as exemplified by Chuck Close's early work. (I know I'm supposed to think he's a genius, but. I. Don't.)

To sum up: Innovation is key in creating art, especially when that art is inspired by art. Otherwise, we're all just singing "Heat Wave" again.

Note to those who are now worried: I did not hire either of those bands for the wedding. Have a little faith, eh?


Anonymous ben said...

I don't really go for superrealism, but I like hyperrealism, which is the same as superrealism but in color, oversaturated just a touch and also shifted just a bit toward green. If I had the equipment to print my own color photos, they would all be a little too green. For example: real, ben-real.

An interesting thing, though, is the description of Chuck Close's work that you link to basically describes what he did as art inspiring art where the product is a duplication of the original (boring) brought about using alternate media (less-boring). Imagine if someone made a film version of a book that exactly replicated the experience of having read the book, only through moving pictures with sound. That could be pretty interesting, perhaps.

9:46 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I could go for hyperrealism, because it's not just a matter of exact replication in another medium. (Nice greenish phone, btw.)

Chuck Close's early art is an exercise without heart. He replicated photos exactly in paint, sometimes adding silly little rules, like not using more than 3 tbsp of paint on a given piece. I think it's cocky and soulless. After he was paralyzed, however, he had to invent a new way of painting, and then his art became more interesting. Perhaps he was humbled, so that his heart could shine through. (I still don't like it THAT much, though...)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Not only is art not required to be faithful to the "original," it isn't really required to be faithful to *anything*. When you expect something of art beyond thought-provoking-ness, you should prepare to be disappointed.

I like Chuck Close's work; I think it's intriguing. Really, I'm fascinated with photorealism in general. I *love* Robert Cottingham.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's all very nice, but the Wonka backstory still sucked.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Ann said...


1:35 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I liked it, it ebing great in that weird Tim Burton way, but I'm just glad we're all judging it on its own merits/lack thereof.

1:45 PM  

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