Artists In The Spotlight All Week on Flix at 5 with Kevin Gordon!
When I’m not spending afternoons with you on WRTI, I paint. My paintings, mostly portraits, are in public and private collections both here and abroad. So, it seems natural that Flix@5 is bringing you something that’s near and dear to my heart, something you don’t often get on the radio: art. The week of November 16th is Artists Week!
When Vincent Minelli was filming a scene for Lust for Life in Auvers-sur-Oise in late 1955—his adaptation of Irving Stone’s novel—an elderly woman who lived in the town was introduced to the film’s star, Kirk Douglas. She commented on how much Douglas looked like Vincent Van Gogh in person because as a little girl, she had actually known the painter.
Lust for Life was filmed in the actual locations in France and the Netherlands in which Van Gogh spent his time painting. Douglas won a Golden Globe as best actor for his portrayal of Van Gogh and Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Paul Gaugin.
Composer Miklos Rosza worked on several Minelli movies, and felt the assignment for Lust for Life was a plum. In his memoirs, Double Life: The Autobiography of Miklos Rozsa, he recalls:
“I asked myself what sort of music Van Gogh would have known. He was a Post-Impressionist, but Post-Impressionism in music comes much later than Van Gogh’s death at the end of the 19th century; pictorial trends are always between 25 and 40 years ahead. The music he himself knew would have been that of the 1880s—Wagner, Liszt, Cesar Franck—but I felt that mid-nineteenth century romanticism had little in common with his work. Somehow I had to evolve a suitable style in terms of my own music. It had to be somewhat Impressionistic, somewhat Pointillistic, somewhat Post-Romantic and brightly, even startlingly colorful, much like the tenor of his paintings.”
Listen to how Rosza’s music adds to the feeling of desperation that Van Gogh feels leading up to the famous moment involving his ear:
Rosza sums up his work on Lust for Life this way:
“It afforded wonderful opportunities for music in the shape of the various scenes which were simply montages of Van Gogh’s paintings, symphonies of colour needing tonal interpretation. I like Van Gogh himself, very well played by Kirk Douglas, who looked remarkably like him. From my point of view, the picture was an artistic apotheosis.”
On Tuesday, we visit the 19th-century British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner in the guise of actor Timothy Spall in the 2014 film Mr. Turner, which follows the last 25 years of the artist’s life. Mr. Turner was nominated for four Academy Awards and four BAFTA awards. The music is by British composer Gary Yershon, who surprisingly began his career as an actor. But music outweighed the acting bug for Yershon, although he is still an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Yershon was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his music, and has gone on to write music for the films Peterloo and 23 Walks.
Listen to Yershon’s accompaniment to Turner’s painting technique:
Wednesday we travel south of the border for Frida. Salma Hayek plays Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, unibrow and all, in the 2002 film. Inspired by Mexican folklore and remembered for her horrific traffic accident that left her in constant pain, as well as her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera,Frida Kahlo continued to paint, expressing her feelings in a series of self-portraits. New York-born composer Elliot Goldenthal scored the film. He studied music with Aaron Copland and John Corigliano. Goldenthal had already written scores for Batman and Robin, Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, among others, and his music for Frida won an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Watch the trailer for Frida:
Thursday, Charlton Heston lies on his back to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as Michelangelo Buonarroti in the 1965 classic The Agony and the Ecstacy. Rex Harrison plays Pope Julius II who commissions the famous work. Michelangelo, who was renowned as a sculptor, struggles at first to complete the project. Months turn to years and his artistic skills and his faith are what have given us the spectacular painting we know today. Composers Alex North and Jerry Goldsmith bring musical drama to the film which won an Academy Award for best original score. Alex North is remembered for his scores to A Streetcar Named Desire, Spartacus and Cleopatra and Jerry Goldsmith went on to score the five Star Trek films as well as Planet of the Apes and The Mummy.
In this clip, Michelangelo sets the Pope straight:
On Friday, Daniel Day Lewis plays the quadriplegic Christy Brown who overcomes his infirmity to become a painter in the 1989 Oscar-winning drama My Left Foot. Lewis won best actor Academy Award for his touching portrayal of the man who could only move his left foot, and used it to create scores of colorful unique paintings. The amazingly prolific Elmer Bernstein, known for over 150 movie scores of all types, ranging from The Ten Commandments to To Kill A Mockingbird to Ghostbusters brings out his poignant side with the score to a gentle film without explosions, Western shootouts or the wrath of God.
Here’s an interview with the real Christy Brown from 1962:
So close your eyes, let the music flow through you and let your inner eye create its own art gallery with Artists Week on Flix@5.