Saturday, April 10, 2010

Looking at Remember Me - Artwork

This post contains spoilers!!

A reviewer said that Remember Me could be used as a film study, and study the film, we have been. Allen Coulter's amazing attention to detail has provided us, not just with a truly amazing film, but a film rich in details and symbolism. Some of the ladies on both Rob's and the Remember Me IMDb message boards have been discussing the film in great detail. Mils1234 compiled a detailed post of some of the observations and insights and I am going to bring them to you in a few posts here.

All the thanks goes to Mils1234, Nautiluswhirl, Tedracat, AZ, Calendos, VAgirl and everyone else who took part in the discussions for these fabulous insights into the artwork and the significance.

Also check out the artwork throughout the film (not just the Seurat work, but also the paintings found in Charles' office and the boardroom - eerie)

The artwork in Charles' office is quite jarring to me, and definitely echoed for me the way the Twin Towers site looked after the buildings fell with all the girders twisted and going every which way.

Denoting rebellion, the mainly abstract artwork Charles surrounds himself with, including the Franz Kline-esque black and white painting in his office, informs me that he and Tyler are not that much different at their core.

Yes, I too was fascinated by the Kline-esque art. Along with rebellion and chaos, the paintings also resemble an abstract depiction of the post 9/11 ground zero site. They always are expressly linked with Tyler and Tyler only:
- he is first filmed against them during the confrontation with his dad
- the next time we see them is on that fateful morning when he arrives at his dad's office and steals a strawberry - he looks meaningfully at them prior to proceeding to the desk
- In the last shot, when he is looking out the window of his dad's office, they are directly behind him, forming a background that he is filmed against.

Foreshadowing the impending chaos via the Kline-esque painting running in Tyler's background is an "aha" moment.

You know how some of the Kline works have been likened to Chinese characters...and when Ally makes reference to Tyler's tatoo before she sees what it actually is....
... and the flow of emotion in Chinese calligraphy is supposed to come straight from the heart, where the tattoo is located.

In the boardroom confrontation with his father, the Kline, in addition to acting as "the writing on the wall" as a portent of doom, its abstract expressionistic, calligraphic brushstrokes also serves as a pen-to-journal substitute if he could paint the nihilism his heart was feeling then; only in the destruction of existing authority would future improvements be possible.

As an aside, speaking of Kline, he once wrote that he felt like a clown. That his life would be a clown's tragedy; when Tyler sees the sleeping clown on the train and gives a knowing half-smile, I wonder if he's thinking the same.

Noguchi's hollowed out sculpture is mirrored in the Henry Moore-esque metal statue seen to the right of the "ashtray" aka the bowl that completes the room.

Regarding the clues to 9/11 peppered throughout the film, the Noguchi Red Cube sculpture which stands behind Tyler as he says he's near Charles' office is a stone's throw away from the Towers. Noguchi said the cube, on its side, was like the roll of a dice: chance. It was chance that Tyler was in the building and not Charles.

In Charles' office, next to the metal sculpture with the gaping hole, remains the bowl with Tyler's ashes in it, a notion reminiscent of the "ashes to ashes" Biblical text derived from the English Burial Service: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

In the "I don't want to be bailed out" scene, there sits two glass obelisks on Charles' desk and a glass bowl, which mirrors Tyler's in the reception area, replaces it in his final scene at the office.

Regarding the "ashtray," flowers, and bronze sculpture in the reception area, architecturally, the stark, white background against which these are displayed and lit is reminiscent of either a marble mausoleum's crypt front or a sarcophagus, a notion which speaks to its use in permanent memorialization for the deceased to be remembered and the living to remember.

The metal pieces which have circular holes in them echo loss via untimely death: wedding band (Ally's mother), Diane's necklace (Tyler's brother), the sculpture (Tyler) in Charles' reception area, and the Red Cube sculpture (9/11 victims).


Milsy said...

Thank you so much for posting the artwork discussion on your site, Patti! The accompanying RM stills and other pictures add greatly to the discussion.

Will you tweet Allen, Will, and Nick about it? I wonder how much of what we observed was actually done intentionally.

Sophie said...

This is a fascinating study. Thank you so much for posting it - I had noticed the Kline, but not the symbolism of the Noguchi sculpture. I had also seen the bowl/ashtray and how it reappears in Charles' desk, but I had not caught on the hint, and now it seems so clear. I'm sure we could delve into so many other details of the film - the boys' flat, the choice of the colours in the different scenes, Caroline's artwork, and so on... so many things to ponder on! Thank you so much.

Katie said...

I'm so happy to see people still making movies with a real meaning to them. You don't see much of that anymore! I cannot stand movies that seem like they serve no purpose at all, other than to make money. There's way too much of that going on nowadays. SO glad that's not the case here! Also really glad that Rob seems to choose these kinds of movies.I think he's making some really smart choices, whether they make a ton of money or not, at least they mean something.

Heidi said...

I love all subtle and not so subtle messages that make Remember Me so special. Every time you see it you notice something else which is one of the reasons I could never get tired of watching it. It's too bad more people didn't pick up on how unique and wonderful this movie really is.

Sophie said...

I have a question: on the door of Tyler's flat, you can see a black and white print - it's the portrait of a bearded man, seen in profile. You see it several times, then you see it at the end, at the Met, when Caroline visits the museum with her father, and you can see she has copied it in her sketchbook. Can anyone tell what this portrait is, - whose portrait, and by whom ? I've done lots of research but sofar to no avail. I thought it was by Courbet, or maybe Whistler, but can't find any answer. If anyone knows... please tell me...

Anonymous said...

The artist is Georges Seurat and it's a portrait of his friend, the artist Aman-Jean, also the drawing's namesake.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's link:

"Seurat chose a classic profile pose for his sitter, sensitively portraying the artist with brush in hand and a facial expression of deep concentration."

I very much enjoyed the unexpected nuances found in Remember Me and look forward to Robert Pattinson's future films.

Sophie said...

Thank you so much to the previous Anonymous commenter (by the way - "Anonymous : is that Greek ?" rings a bell ? lol ;)) - for finding that the portrait is by Georges Seurat!

Anonymous said...

Yes, you got the reference :) and you're very welcome.

Miko said...

There is a black on black painting in Tyler's apt..... a two-part series of a black circle on black background and then below it, a black square on black background. Does anyone know whose paintings these are? Tx.

harrietfiona said...

What about the large canvas in his little sisters room? Does anyone know who that painting is by? :)

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