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Director Tim Burton Hypnotizes Fans With Latest Film Big Eyes

by Photo of Marianna Giusti

‘Big Eyes’ directed by Tim Burton tells the story of painter Margaret Keane.

Director Tim Burton Hypnotizes Fans With Latest Film Big Eyes

Released on December 25th, the latest Tim Burton film Big Eyes tells the true story of Margaret Keane (who is age 88 in present day) once the unknown painter of the bug-eyed children that for years were credited to her husband, Walter Keane, in a dark vicissitude of long-kept secrets and world-scale lies.

Starring Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, and accompanied by Lana del Rey’s mellifluous soundtrack, Big Eyes has received three Golden Globes nominations, for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Original Song.

Director Tim Burton was familiar with Keane’s quirky art since his childhood days, in the sixties, when big-eyed portraits were hanging on the walls of Keane's fans' homes, all over America , as canvas, posters, and pictures. Nonetheless, Burton claims his main fascination to the story has been Margaret’s attitude.

After her marriage with Walter Keane, as a divorced mother, in 1955, her talent suddenly unveiled in incredible sales, which began in her husband’s name, since "lady art doesn't sell", as Walter states at the beginning of the film. Since then, she was painting the big eyes in her home studio, 16 hours a day, as her husband went off to receive the world’s appreciation.

Although the plot so-told sounds like the perfect storyline for a good cliché pro-fem blockbuster, Big Eyes does not stick to the stereotype. The film engages with truthful dynamics in the real story of Margaret Keane, while also resulting in some cinematic downsides.

Margaret is portrayed as she was, a silent, passive woman, whose strength only unfolds after years of oppression. For this reason, the audience might not sympathize with her character at first, as too weak for our contemporary feminist standards.

"She's like the quietest feminist I've ever met”. Burton admits. “She never even blamed Walter that much for what happened and she didn't want vengeance. She just wanted to be acknowledged as the creator of her own paintings.

The direction and the performance are void of dramatic outbursts and cinematic conflicts, preserving the contained balance of her human type. As painter Keane confirmed to the press, the sad truth is she probably would have never been appreciated without her husband.

“You've got to remember that back in the Fifties there was a lot of prejudice against women artists. There weren't that many of them, and on the whole their work didn't sell. So it's quite possible that my paintings wouldn't have got the exposure they did without him. That's one of the strangest things of all about this”

Margaret doesn’t deny her ex-husband his share in her success either. However paranoid-controlling he may have been of their secret, “he was also formidably talented in his own way. He was brilliant at promotion. He could charm anyone".

Although not the most conventional Burton production, all of the characters are human, Big Eyes unfolds the eerie Burtonesque darkness in its own way, throughout the course of the film.

Margaret’s big eyes hallucinations match up to his nightmarish taste, just like the setting of middle class residential California is certainly mindful of some Burton’s classics, like Edward Scissor Hands, as well as it subtly bears his long-known critique to that world’s hypocrisy.

The incredible sample of real-life strife, Adams and Waltz’s vivid performance, as well as Lana del Rey’s enchanting voice and the Burton’s direction narrative twist, all contribute to a film which is enjoyable, enriching, and definitely worth watching.

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