The arts have always had a role in media but the ways in which they are presented vary. From true stories of political controversies to musical dramas, these five movies about the arts are perfect for a rainy spring day.
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Though this historical drama, which is written, produced and directed by Tim Robbins, is set in the late 1930s, its storyline remains timely today as budget cuts often mean arts programs disappear in schools and towns. The film follows Marc Blitzstein (Hank Azaria) as he develops 1937 musical Cradle Will Rock. While working on the music, he realizes he needs more inspiration to finish it—and he finds it during an unexpected turn of events. Faced with losing its budget, the Works Progress Administration cuts funding for all Federal Theater Project productions, lays off workers and orders all ongoing projects, including The Cradle Will Rock, to end. At a public protest, Blitzstein is visited by two imaginary figures (his late wife and the famed German playwright Bertolt Brecht) and they encourage him to make the play more relevant with the times.
Mr. Turner (2014)
Mr. Turner is a biographical drama film on the last 25 years of the life and career of painter J. M. W. Turner, a legendary and at times controversial painter hailed as the man who elevated landscape painting. Love him or hate him, viewers have to admit he’s dedicated after watching him strap himself to the mast of a ship so he could paint in a snowstorm. He’s also seen traveling, visiting a brothel and receiving praise and criticism from the public and royalty.
The 1953 Italian film version of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of the same name depicts the love story of Ethiopian slave Aida (Sophia Loren), who is staying in Memphis (ancient capital of Egypt) with the young Egyptian supreme commander Radames. Amneris (Lois Maxwell), the mistress and daughter of the pharaoh, is also in love with Radames. Aida can’t conceal her feelings while Amneris is jealous of her beauty.
La La Land (2016)
Centered in Los Angeles, the film follows a jazz pianist as he falls for an aspiring actress. Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) have to face the realities of juggling income and art, a problem many aspiring artists know all too well. As success comes for both, their dreams threaten to tear them apart. The film was often hailed by critics for its sweet storyline that allowed for escapism following a tumultuous 2016 Presidential election. But its most dramatic moment happened during an awards show. The flick cleaned up during awards season, winning seven Golden Globes and six Oscars, and viewers thought it had won another one when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced it as Best Picture at the Oscars. Turns out, Moonlight had won the coveted trophy, and the classy La La Land crew handed it over, showing camaraderie in the arts community. Trophy or not, this flick is a must watch for dreamers and arts lovers.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film)
Beneath a Paris opera house, the Phantom (Gerard Butler) tries all he can to get closer to vocalist Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum). Christine, however, falls for arts benefactor Raoul (Patrick Wilson). In order not to lose her love, the Phantom enacts a plan to keep her by his side. But Raoul tries to destroy the plan in this entertaining musical, which is also a classic Broadway play.
The arts can act as a form of escape, affirmation and inspiration. But what happens if we pull the plug on funding? Check back for Pulse’s in-depth look at a plan that could bankrupt us all.