“Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical film directed by Tim Burton, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski …The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes, and follows the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret’s phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s, and the lawsuit (and trial) between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings.”
I am excited to say that I have finally watched Big Eyes. That makes two movies off my movie list in one week (feeling pretty accomplished) and I must say it was nothing what I expected. My original interpretation of this movie was so different. At first I thought that it was her first husband and father of her child that had stole her work. However, it was not, it was her second husband. Also, I thought that it was while she was in the mist of a mental breakdown, that wasn’t true either. When asked why she drew the eyes so big she replied by saying “I believe you can see things through the eyes, you can see to the soul.” Strangely, I believe something similar. Same rational being someone who cant look you in the eyes is being dishonest, for example.
“The eyes I draw on my children are an expression of my own deepest feelings. Eyes are windows of the soul” Keane explains.
This film touched based with a lot of gender issues and how society viewed women in the 50’s. The movie starts by saying, “the 50’s were an incredible time for a man.”A time when divorce or separation was taboo for women, she ventured forth. When applying for a job the man asked, “does your husband approve of you working?” This struck a cord with me, the audacity. When seeking guidance from the priest in the confessional he simply said to her to trust in her husbands words, as Christians “man was head of household.” I think this scene was vital in the end, giving insight on why she choose to convert over to Jehovah. Something seeming so absurd was the reality of this time, very unrealistic for modern day society, women have come along way.
If this movie was solely based on Walter Keane and his life I would have titled it, Big Head. That indeed he was. The more he grew in popularity and stature the more his head grew too. It went from Keane being a family name, and an “us,” thing to being all about him real quick. Yes, she did live a pretty decent life, but at what cost? her dignity, her identity? she lost a large part of who she was during this process, it was hard to watch.
At one point in the movie Walter even fooled me, coming across as a struggling artist who cared passionately about his work. It didn’t take me long to realize him for the deceitful, con-artist that he was. Lie after lie, he lied about everything. Including having a child through his first marriage, no mention of the marriage either. Even the paintings he passed off as his own in the beginning were not truly his own. He was no artist in the least, couldn’t tell the difference between oil based and acrylic paint.
Word of advice : “never use water based paint over oil…” -Margaret Keane
I guess it is true when people say that opposites attract, because Margaret on the other hand was honest to a fault. Keeping this secret for so long ate at her soul and went against everything she believed in. This is not love. That much I do know. Walter was a business man, a very good one at that. He had a way with his words, as he did with her. It was a form of abuse she endeared, mentally.
Throughout, the movie I felt myself get mad at her submissive ways, wanting to jump through the screen and say “stand up for yourself!” But in the end she did me proud. Over all, great movie!!
Andy Warhol said “I think what Keane has done is just terrific. It has to be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it.”