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If you’re an artist, you will more than likely experience inspirational slumps, writer’s block or periods of depression when nothing you are creating seems worthwhile or meaningful. On such days, brew up a coffee and take a break! Spending a few hours watching a biographically-based film about the redemptive power of art can be just the thing you need to kickstart your creativity into action again.These four movies promise a sense of renewal.
Dead Poets Society
This 1989 film starring Robin Williams as the passionate English professor, John Keating, won several Academy Awards. Keating is more than a teacher, he’s an awakener. His male students, under his unique and energetic tutelage, are inspired to create art and follow their dreams. Even though pursuing his quest to become an actor causes one student to come to a tragic end, the movie still concludes with the sense that creating art has a depth of meaning and beauty unmatched by anything rational society has to offer.
My Left Foot
Another Academy award winning film that was released in 1989, My Left Foot tells the miraculous tale of Christy Brown. Brown had cerebral palsy and was raised in a large, impoverished family. Yet, his family’s belief in him leads him first to learn to talk, then paint and finally to write his life story, the latter two tasks achieved using just one of his feet. Akin to 2007’s release of the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about a paralyzed man’s painstaking composition of his own autobiography, My Left Foot reminds one that art is created more with the determination of the spirit than with the health of the body.
This subtitled film from France traces the real-life story of a brave and beautiful artist born in 1593, Artemisia Gentileschi. Although her talent was evident, Artemisia had to struggle against the Academy’s refusal to admit her and the sexual mistreatments of such male artists as Tassi. Due to her determination to paint at all costs, she was eventually triumphant, painting such masterpieces as Susanna and the Elders and Judith Slaying Holofernes. For female artists, the film recalls the challenging path women have forged to succeed as autonomous and respected creators.
Likewise, Frida, the biopic of the Mexican surrealist artist and her turbulent life with the Marxist mural painter Diego Rivera, details the challenges of being both a woman and an artist. Shot in 2002 and the winner of six Academy Awards, Frida elaborates on the persistence, vision and endurance any artist must have, but most of all one who not only must combat sexism and racism but physical handicaps. Kahlo painted despite a series of agonizing surgeries for injuries caused by a bus accident when she was young. Her story will invigorate any artist to keep going on the road they’ve defined for themselves through the essential desire to create.