My friend Jan has been making some posts about artists who may have been influenced by others who came before them – see here, here, and here. Recognizing this kind of stuff is always fun.
Here’s a nice strand of influence:
Recently, as I was watching the trailer for Wes Anderson’s new movie, Moonrise Kingdom, I noticed that the boy’s pose in the screen grab above was really familiar to me. Anderson is famous for ubiquitously referencing older movies in no uncertain terms. Moonrise Kingdom is about a boy and a girl who run away together illicitly, so the stance of the boy in this shot is, I think, undoubtedly a reference to Terrence Malick’s classic, Badlands, which is a story about a boy and a girl who also run away together. But that pose didn’t originate with Badlands; Malick stole it too. Though produced in the 1970s, Badlands is set in the 1950s, and the character Kit (the guy pictured with the gun, of course) was inspired by America’s denim-wearing, rebellious, adolescent figures who grew into society’s prominence in the postwar era, such as James Dean’s character, Jim Stark, in Nicolas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause. It says right on the Badlands poster that Kit combs his hair like James Dean, and Dean (and all that his persona embodies) is exactly who Malick references with the gun pose. Check out the picture of Dean as Jett Rink in George Steven’s Giant. (The picture above is a promotional photo, not a still, but Dean does the same stance in the actual film, I can assure you.) Yet that wasn’t the only reference that Malick made to Giant. His next feature, Days of Heaven, has a house in it that looks remarkably similar to the house in Giant. Both films were set in Texas and the houses symbolize the wealth of the characters playing the farm/ranch owners, which is necessary to contrast their foil characters of far lesser means. And it’s also worth noting that both houses look a whole lot like the house in Edward Hopper’s “House by the Railroad.” I remember that the farm in Days of Heaven was next to the railroad, but I can’t recall if the ranch in Giant was or not.