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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Caught on Tape: Pablo Picasso

caught on tape

Pablo Picasso is one of the great modern artists and one that we actually have on film. I think it makes it harder to make films of a historical figure who has actually been on film before. It requires a little more effort than portraying those who we only have descriptions and paintings of, or even those we only have passing reference. I thought I would start this edition of Caught on Tape off with a clip of the actual Picasso, to compare with. Here, Picasso is painting.

Surviving Picasso (1996)

“The passionate Merchant-Ivory drama tells the story of Francoise Gilot, the only lover of Pablo Picasso who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty and move on with her life.” (IMDB)

Surviving Picasso is about the last significant lover of Pablo Picasso - Francoise Gilot – and it is really her story that is being told her, how she survived a life with the famous artist. The relationship between the two is given center stage here. We also see depictions of the other women in Picasso’s life, Olga Khokhlova (1st wife and mother of his son Paulo), Dora Marr (one of his lovers), Marie-Therese Walter (one of his lovers and mother of his daughter Maya), and Jacqueline Rocque (Picasso’s 2nd wife). I think it would be interesting to see how all of these women interacted with him and each other. The great Anthony Hopkins plays Picasso here, he feels like a creepy old man to me here – also of note is Julianne Moore, as Dora Maar. The movie didn’t get all that great of reviews.

Modigliani (2004)

“The story of Amedeo Modigliani's bitter rivalry with Pablo Picasso, and his tragic romance with Jeanne Hebuterne.” (IMDB)

Modigliani is about the artist of the same name – and a central focus of the story is his relationship with and rivalry with Pablo Picasso. They are both competing for the same art prize. And there is also the relationship with his lover, Jeanne. I have never heard of Modigliani, especially in reference to Picasso – so I find this story rather interesting, his life was rather sad. Modigliani is portrayed by Andy Garcia, who looks somewhat like the artist. Picasso is portrayed by Omid Djalili.

Youtube has the entire film, if you watch the first 5 minutes you will see Picasso and Modigliani and how the contest begins. The film is described as not the best artist biography.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

“While on a trip to Paris with his fiancĂ©e's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.” (IMDB)

Midnight in Paris – while a ridiculous conceptual movie, features Owen Wilson moving through the artistic world of the French Belle Epoch. One of the artists he meets along the way is Pablo Picasso. Picasso’s mistress of the moment in this film is Adriana – and she becomes the love interest of Owen Wilson’s character, Gil. This Picasso is in his earlier years and the scene that I have chosen for you below is when Picasso and Gertrude Stein are arguing about his new style – Adriana appears too.

La Banda Picasso [aka. Picasso’s Gang] (2012)

“Based on the real robbery of the Mona Lisa in 1911, when young Pablo Picasso and his friends were the prime suspects of the robbery. Could it be that the future master actually led a gang of international art thieves?” (IMDB)

La Banda Picasso is described as a comedy crime film and offers a telling of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Picasso was questioned in connection with this theft as were several of his artistic circle. Those of Picasso’s gang featured in this film are: Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Manolo Hugue, Fernande Olivier, Gery Pieret, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas and more. If you watch the trailer below, it looks like a rollicking comedic adventure – however, it is actually a plodding look at the artistic group in Paris, with some attention to the theft (so the preview is a little decieiving). The story and times feel very true to life for the period.

Pablo Picasso is brought to life here by actor Ignacio Mateos. French film with English subtitles. The film is available via Amazon Instant Video (that’s how I watched it).

What do you think of these renditions of Picasso? Have you seen any of these films? I like that these films cover a wide range of Picasso’s life (and loves).  I don't know who I like the best as "Picasso", I don't think any of them represented him too well. 



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