Mike Leigh Eyes Potential Film About 19th Century British Painter J.M.W. Turner

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 10, 2010 4:28 AM
1 Comment
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No one mines the loves, lives, happiness and sorrow of the British working class better than Mike Leigh, and for the past two decades, he's pretty much made the subject the primary focus of his work. This year, he delivered another spiked heart of a film with "Another Year," tracking the relationships that orbit around an older couple. It's another wonderful slice of life pic from the helmer and we certainly hope that Lesley Manville is nominated for her heartbreaking turn in the picture.

However, for Leigh's next effort, he may take a step away from his usual comfort zone. The LA Times reports that the director is seeking funding for a film about 19th century British painter J.M.W. Turner. "We want to make a film about Turner the painter, and that’s all I have to say about it," Leigh said. "It would have to be an expensive project, so we're working to make it happen."

The Romantic-era "painter of light" was a bit of prodigy, with his first painting exhibited after only one year of study. He traveled around Europe painting and was exhibited frequently. In his later years he battled depression and was said to become more "eccentric" with age. His works endure however, and are seen as a precursor to Impressionism and fetch high prices at auction.

"I'd like to paint a bigger picture. I've only done two period films," Leigh said referring to "Topsy-Turvy" and "Vera Drake." However, it remains to be seen if anyone will pony up the dough required for a drama about a 19th century painter and the high price tag might be a roadblock with Leigh saying, "With 'Topsy-Turvy' we were able to cut the budget by cutting the exteriors. You don’t make a film about Turner and cut the exteriors. This is a guy who strapped himself to the mast of a ship to paint a storm. He’s for real. So, yes, expensive."

It sounds intriguing but Leigh makes no bones that potential financiers are wary. It would be nice to see the director change gears and we hope it comes together. For now, look for "Another Year" when it opens in limited release on December 29th.

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1 Comment

  • Selby Whittingham | December 12, 2010 2:41 AMReply

    It would indeed be exciting if the film could be made. Earlier films on Turner the man have been undistinguished. It could be approached in many ways. There is need for a film on Turner's bequest - his ideas that informed it and its fate - on the lines of "The Art of the Steal" on Barnes and his art foundation. The two had certain things in common, being curmudgeons who alienated influential peoiple with unfortunate longterm results.

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