Life for women was very different in the 1950’s. There were certain expectations of women and their duties. They were duty bound to their husbands who were clearly in charge. A woman did not have her own money and was given an allowance because she wasn’t trusted with the money. Dinner had to be on the table when the husband got in and the wife had to listen to the husbands voice before she could say anything herself. The children were the mother’s responsibility as was the house work. A lady of the 50’s had very little in the way of a social life, but had to assist when the husband entertained. For many women being a wife and mother was what they were brought up to do just like their mothers and their grandmother’s did. A lady of the 50’s was expected to marry and have children and it was frowned upon if they didn’t. Today a woman choosing this life style would be frowned upon. Life should be about happiness and if a man or woman is in a happy relationship and they work together as a team then both people can be happy whatever way they choose to live their life.
I bring the subject up after watching the film Big Eyes. This is a biographical story of Margaret Kean an artist renowned for her pictures of children with big eyes. She was very much a 50’s woman mother and housewife. She broke that mould by leaving her husband which was extremely rare back then. She left the marriage to improve the life of her and her daughter. She also wanted to become an artist having painted from an early age. She got a job painting furniture in a factory before taking to the streets as an artist painting portraits.
Here she met the charming Walter Kean who was living the dream as an artist having left his wife and given up the business. He saw Margarets talent and saw an opportunity to promote her work which would make them a fortune. She fell into his hands in response to her ex husband wanting custody of their daughter. A single mother had nothing to offer a daughter? She married Walter and he offered her a great life with few worries.
He pushed her paintings with his great business skill and promotion. What a great guy and supporting husband! Sadly his determination to succeed as an artist and to become famous clouded what was right and wrong, meaning he soon took credit for the work. WALTER KEAN THE CREATOR OF BIG EYES!!! He managed to make a fortune for the family, but he became controlling and so driven that he had to keep the paintbrush flowing. Not his brush though, so Margaret was locked away completing picture after picture. The problem was Walter didn’t understand why Margaret painted meaning he struggled when asked in interviews. Before long it was clear why Walter couldn’t explain his passion and techniques. Walter was not an artist and had never been an artist, he was a con man. As the film progressed it became apparent that Walter actually believed all the rubbish he had yarned. The problem being is that he needed Margaret’s art work and this brought about fear, which then meant he had to be in control and cause Margaret to fear life if she didn’t paint.
Walter had a grand plan for a masterpiece which completely backfired leading a critic to completely destroy his work. He couldn’t back out of the situation now, blaming Margaret for the idea which publicly humiliated him. He went crazy and tried to burn Margaret and daughter as they locked him out of the room. This was the last straw and Margaret left to set up a new life in Hawaii.
Leaving Walter was tough, but not as tough as losing her artwork. The time away from Walter gave her chance to fight back and get her name and art work back. This all went through court where Walter confirmed his Jekyll and Hyde character in front of the waiting jury. The only way to prove that the artwork was hers was to produce it in court. It was easel and canvas at the ready. Walter couldn’t paint so it was no contest and Margaret got her art back.
Margaret has lived out a happy life and continues to paint. Walter died penniless which is pretty sad. Had he used his skills for good and promoted his wife in the way he promoted himself then maybe he would have lived a happier life. He was bitter til the end and never gave up the “Big Eyes”
Waltz and Adams portray the parts brilliantly. Waltz is the perfect crazy, egotistical and controlling husband. He brings comedy value to the court room scenes. Walter is controlling and crazy and Waltz brings this out to the point you feel sorry and pity this man who believes he is an artist and tries to create a fantasy which fall’s around him. Adams plays Margaret beautifully showing how she is controlled but eventually builds the strength to get her work back. You feel her passion and love for her art. Her paintings are like her children and she care . s for them deeply.
This it is a great film, with great performances made easier by the two main subjects.
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