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Film Studies 101
Feature
The Paintings That Inspired The Movies
How art classics informed film…

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Mean Streets

The Calling Of St Matthew (Caravaggio)

Inspired By: The Calling Of St Matthew (Caravaggio)

Martin Scorsese, as well as having a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema, knows his arty onions – and it figures that he’d be a fan of Italian master Caravaggio, the original master of chiaroscuro. Between Scorsese’s religious background and his eye for light and shade, the paintings became an obvious inspiration for Mean Streets in particular. Scorsese told The Guardian: “I was instantly taken by the power of [Caravaggio’s] pictures. Initially, I related to them because of the moment that he chose to illuminate in the story. You come upon the scene midway and you’re immersed in it. It was like modern staging in film: it was so powerful and direct. He would have been a great filmmaker, there’s no doubt about it. He sort of pervaded the entirety of the bar sequences in Mean Streets. It’s basically people sitting in bars, people at tables, people getting up. The Calling Of St Matthew, but in New York!”

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 Nighthawks and The Sting maybe?
When I first saw this picture it reminded me so much of when Hooker (Redford) meets the female assassin posing as a waitress in the cafe. More

Posted by drico on Tuesday June 25, 2013, 11:01

2 Rembrandt?
Ah I see. Too close? More

Posted by annrhoward on Sunday June 23, 2013, 13:52

3 Rembrandt?
What about Peter Greenaway's 'Nightwatching' based on Rembrandt's painting 'The Night Watch' ? More

Posted by annrhoward on Sunday June 23, 2013, 13:51

4 RE:
Clever. Never made that link before :-) More

Posted by DunBirnin on Saturday June 22, 2013, 09:46

5 RE: Lee/Howe
Murray, they were illustrating the same subject matter as the film, so I categorised them with Dali and Spellbound as being too closely involved. More

Posted by Helen OHara on Friday June 21, 2013, 16:35


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