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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  January 4, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PST

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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: alfonso and jonas cuaron are here. they wrote one of this year's most talked about movies.
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it's a space adventure that takes place entirely in zero gravity. oscar winning james cameron calls it the best space film ever done and the movie i've been hungry to see for an awfully long time. here is the trailer for "gravity." >> beautiful, don't you think? >> what? >> the sun rise. terrific. (screaming) >> no! >> houston, the listen to my voice! you need to focus! >> i'm spinning! i can't breathe! what do i do? what do i do? >> no, no, no!
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>> anybody, please copy. >> rose: i am pleased to have the director, alfonso cuaron and his son and co-writer jonas cuaron at this table. it looks like an easy movie to make. (laughter) >> i thought that. actually, i finished the screenplay, sent it to chih bow our cinematographer and i said listen to this, it's a small piece, two characters, it will be the c.g. but we'll do it in one year. >> rose: one year? >> yes, it was going to be one of those. >> rose: and how long did it take? >> four and a half. >> rose: why? >> because the technology to do it didn't exist.
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i didn't know that because we were writing and when you're writing you don't think of those things. and then when we start doing the whole thing it was clear that they wouldn't have gone to work -- >> rose: what was the hardest part. >> "gravity." (laughter) >> rose: you mean absence of -- zero gravity? >> the current illusion of zero gravity. because it was very important. it was a cinematic and emotional point so -- >> rose: i mean, the idea of zero gravity is that just nothing pulls you down, right? >> strictly speaking it's called microgravity because they're close you have no the earth that there's still a certain -- >> well, i think actually's not such a thing as not gravity. because there's so microgravity pulling and attracting some object and stuff.
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>> rose: how was it to have your son work with you? >> it was great in the sense that when we're working together we're just two writers working together. >> rose: just like any other good writer, huh? >> i -- he came with the concept of not necessarily the story of the space but the concept of doing a film that it was very visual, very -- that it's so relentless that audiences would surrender themselves into an emotional journey. >> rose: you were working on a small independent film that fell throw sflu >> yup. that we wrote together. >> and the reason we started talking about "gravity" is because when the project fell through i went to london to figure out what to do with that project. like rewrite it, make it maybe more accessible for financing and he had read this other script that i'd written that had like a similar concept to "gravity" and when he read it we
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started just talking about that concept and -- it's weird, we never planned to, like, professionally sit down and write "gravity," we just started talking about one night about the type of movies we wanted to see and that conversation turned into an all night long conversation about -- that led to the plot of "gravity." >> rose: so how much money has it made already? i mean, like $600 million or something? >> i don't know that much but, yeah over 500. >> rose: had to be surprising. you had no idea. >> in the whole journey has been very surprising. the film took four and a half years, we finished the film two weeks before the venice film festival where it premiered and we had no idea of what was going to happen and suddenly it started to be a great response from festivals and reviewers and you always have well, maybe it's the thing that's going connect with festivals and viewers but
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then it started connecting with audiences as well. >> rose: then it's a home run. >> yeah, it's kind of happy -- surprised. much better than the alternative. (laughter) >> rose: indeed it is. why do you think it is, jonas? >> my theory of why audiences are connecting so strongly with it is that beyond being a space movie it's a movie about a universal theme which is adversity. in life we all go through adversity so when you go as an audience to see the film you get so engaged in the writing and suddenly you start imposing your owned a versetys on to that. and that's, i guess, the reason we wanted to do a narrative in this concept which is so straight. >> rose: if i might say it in another way, it's like your two main characters are in danger and you're wondering whether they're going to make it. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and this is overlaid by the fact that you're seeing space in a different way.
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you get some sense of what it's like to be up there. >> well, yes. part of the beauty, the attraction for audience is that getting immersed in that experience of space for them is to float in space but that has also a thematic function. when we start writing the screenplay we talk about -- because we started -- even before we decided it was going to be space we were just talking about the themes. and thematically it's about adversities and the possibility of rebirth and when you go through adversities you lose ground, you know? it's all metaphorically, of course. you lose ground. so here you have a character that is going through adversities, loses ground and then it goes into the void and then getting away from human
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communication, victim of her own inertia and living in her own bubble. so that -- and i think that in many ways the audiences when you see the film, yeah, they're connecting to the journey and the roller coaster ride and into space but there's an emotional immediacy that i think is what has been working with audiences. >> rose: and what's the relationship between ryan, sandra and mat and george? >> we always saw both characters -- for us the journey of ryan is a character that has given up on living intellectually and through this journey he's going to get this new desire to live and in a way george is experienced not only who's going to teach her how to move in this environment but also who in a way is going giver that -- teach her back the desire to live, to enjoy life. the character of matt, this guy who enjoys every moment of life
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and is going to enjoy every moment until he runs out of oxygen. >> live in the present versus the past or the future. >> rose: that's a good place to be isn't it? the present? >> the present. (laughter) let's take a look. this is when the the "explorer" which is the spaceship that they're on, gets hit by debris. >> mission abort. repeat, mission aboard. >> "explorer" confirming visual contact with debris. debris is from a sat. repeat -- >> requesting transport. >> we have to go. we have to go, go, go. >> meteorological conditions are no go. >> houston "explorer" copy. transport to bay area. do you cop sni >> "explorer, permission to retreat, dr. stone?" >> houston, this is "explorer" copy? we've lost houston. we've lost houston.
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>> we need to get the hell out of here. don't waste time. man down! man down! "explorer's" been hit. (screaming) dr. stone, detach that arm. listen to my voice! in 30 seconds i won't be able to grab you. detach! i can't see you anymore. do it now! houston, i've lost visual of dr. stone. >> rose: you said that you knew-- you knew-- that the main character had to be a woman.
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how did you know? >> well, we wanted to make this story since we started talking about the thematics of the story is a character who's given up on life. kind of has lost all of that like force of fertility, of like life giving and through the journey that life will get rekindled so we just knew we wanted to have this female presence. this presence of life. it's a movie where the backdrop is earth and we always saw earth through this force of life. >> and also there was -- it was very organic. we started writing, we started discussing. the first image was this image of an astronaut -- actually, that one, spinning into the void. and the moment we started talking about it, we talk about it as a woman. and then we start -- when we start mapping the whole thing, we used to call her -- we didn't have a name and it was "the woman." and we called her "the woman" and it was not until we started
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developing the script that we questioned why it was a woman. it was just an instinct. it had to do with this ideas that we have been talking about ideas of rebirth and fertility and having the background of earth as mother earth. and suddenly everything was infuse bid female elements. >> rose: you have said that sandra's performance you compare to a dance routine. meaning? >> the approach she had to take. because in order to achieve all this choreography-- because it's very complicated choreographys-- sandra had to go into a whole routine which she had to hit very specific marks. she had to hit very specific timing and on top of that under a very sbru gruesome physical conditions. so it's not unlike a dancer who perhaps -- she prepped for five months to do the whole thing so not only like a dancer that goes
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through a physical preparation and then a -- going into memorizing very complicated routines. so in the moment which you roll camera, the moment of the performance for a dancer, it just explodes with expression and emotion. >> rose: >> and that's what she was doing. it was brilliant to witness that. >> rose: did you use lots of things that ron howard didn't use in "apollo 13"? >> well, we did use something that he used brilliantly. which was the comet, the parabolic flights. the ones that -- well, scientists and astronauts used to train that is basically a plane that goes very high up and then just goes into a free-fall for 20 seconds and then goes up again and then free-falls and when you're free-falling you're inside the plane so you have the
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sensation that you're floating and it's so much fun. (laughter) >> we tried it and it was going to be impossible to do all of this film in the vomit comet. >> rose: let's take a look at another scene that has some of the same ideas where dr. ryan stone-- sandra bullock-- and george clooney, they get detached while they're flying through outer space. >> brake? >> we can't, the can's empty. hit hard. grab ahold of anything you can. >> what do i do? who do i do?
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>> grab ahold! >> rose: okay, so take a look at this. i want to show you this image. this is a picture of a light box which was one of the new pieces of thooj you use. what's the light box? >> the light box is a 9 x 9 cube
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in which all the inside walls are l.e.d. lights. >> rose: l.e.d. lights? >> l.e.d. lights. so there's i don't know how many million individual lights inside the thing. and then what happens is that you can see that image is inside the international space station and so if the character is inside the image will convey the point of view of the character. >> rose: oh, i see. >> and that image was going to leap the character. you know? it works as the reference, the point of view, and they would have a geographical idea but most important is the interaction of the light. because that light didn't have to match perfectly well with this c.g. environment that was going to be used. >> rose: this had to be in 3-d? >> well, it didn't have to be in 3-d because you could do that in 2d but the screenplay from the
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original title was "gravity: a space adventure in 3-d "because we wanted it to be an experience for the audience, a submerseive experience, almost like an interactive experience because our belief is that way you would connect with the themes on the more emotional level. like your connection to the story and the narrative and the themes would be more direct. more guttural. >> rose: i bet you're waiting to direct, aren't you? >> yeah, well, actually script that i showed him that inspired the concept of "gravity" i had to put aside to develop "gravity" over the last five years and now i'm actually preping that movie right now in the spring. >> rose: was it always inevitable that you would want to do this because of your father? >> no, i never really thought i was going to go into film. i wanted to tell stories and i thought i wanted to be a writer but then i started experimenting with this medium and i guess since i was bombarded by him my whole life it came natural.
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>> rose: it's interesting. 2013 we have a whole series of movies that have been called survival movies. at sea "all is lost" and "captain phillips" and then the antebellum american south "12 years a slave." >> there's kind of a feeling going around. (laughter) >> rose: survive. yes. >> but the thing is it's in the air in the sense of -- i -- i guess that one explanation is that people are really worried about the time that we're living. >> rose: exactly. >> and the possibilities by violence and all of those things and pandemics and the rest. >> and the whole idea in the context in the fall of that -- of these -- of this question
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about who we are in terms of the self. what is this? i mean, are we just these biological forces or -- plainly one more species that our survival is just biological as the rest of the planet or there's another idea of self. >> rose: the there a movie in that idea? (laughter) the way you're talking about it suggests that it's a broader theme to explore. >> well, that theme is something we were talking about. it was part of the -- our idea was the whole thing of adversities and rebirth being -- meaning a new knowledge of yourself and knowledge of own universe around you. but that is inherent of that, you know?
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in one hand -- the interesting thing about survival things is just -- it's not in a unique stuff of humans it's like nature is striving to survive. >> rose: exactly. exactly. all the time. >> but we humans, we have a consciousness about that struggle but in a way that gets stripped away while you're in a survival situation because these survival stories are interesting because they yes that will to survive comes from. they bring us down to almost an animalistic level where all our back story becomes secondary to just that instinct to survive. >> rose: and we're living in an age in which adversities have being magnified, you know? and it's -- yeah, magnified because of the way things are right now. and also because the information that we all have slopeen hauer
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said this thing of adversities we tend to think are exceptions. when reality what is exceptional is the moments between adversities. >> rose: let me take another look. i want to go back to the light box. this is how -- this is george clooney in the light box. (laughter) >> rose: he's in rig from his waist down. that rig will have certain motion. then he'll be there with this suit with all of those things that look like a martian. those little antennas. those are trackers for the visual effects crowd. because all of that suit is going to be converting to a c.g. suit. now all of those roles are conveying this environment so
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that would be his view if he looks around. so what happens is that that environment is using the light on his face that the sun that is being projected from the right side of the frame of the -- >> rose: as we look at the frame. >> exactly. picture right. it's through the l.e.d. lights. and then our view is actually view of the camera that he was mounted in a robot that used to build cars. and it was the camera was mounted. >> rose: take a look at this. >> and you see that thing, the rig will just move around helping the motion. because otherwise it is complimenting the movement of the robot, otherwise the robot will have to move super fast. >> it was kind of a strange environment to shoot and the
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testament of the actors that actually it was a whole exercise of abstraction. >> rose: so it called on them to be better than it night a traditional movie? >> well, it was almost like stage play, you know? in which the whole thing was to have a thematic and emotional clarity about each single one of the moments. otherwise all this technology will be in the foreground while the important thing is the story. >> rose: now, when you're directing clooney and he's a really good director do you call on that skill that he has as well? do you have collaboration about how we might best shoot something that he's involved in? >> no, the thing is -- >> rose: or he acts when he's acting and directs when he's directing? >> he's an amazing not only director, he's an amazing writer. so you're working with a guy who's a full-blown filmmaker. but is he going and relaxed?
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he there's to help you in your film. so if -- you know, he's just there doing his job as an actor that he really enjoys but at the same time that he understands exactly what you're doing. so you realize that suddenly he's already helping you as an actor to solve what you're trying to do as a filmmaker. or if you express out like something you're going through he innately puts on the side of his hat, the director's hat and he has a conversation with you as a filmmaker, but never imposing absolutely anything. >> rose: not trying to tell you how to make your movie. >> no, he says "look i only work with people that i respect and i want to -- as filmmakers and i admire. so i'm putting myself in your hands. we're buddies so we can discuss about this." >> rose: that's a good actor to have, isn't it? >> he's fun.
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he's relaxing. he's like the mission of clooney in life is to make people at ease all the time. and for everyone to have a good time. >> rose: and sandra bullock? >> sandra, she's great. sandra and george were great collaborators in the sense that they really gave me the time of day to really work on like fine tuning those dialogues and their scenes and what really surprised me about sandra is is to have a movie where the whole emotional ride was on one character's shoulders and when i saw movie screened in venice i was really surprised that even though i wrote it and i was jaded by the fact that i knew everything that happen misdemeanor the film i really had a strong emotional connection to her character and i realized that it's because she gave such a true human performance which is surprising because she was inside of those horrible rigs. so suddenly to have seen her do that and then see her on screen
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just like floating and being really completely human was very surprising. >> she's fearless. and that's the thing. she's fearless and she told me from the get-go that she wants to step out of her comfort zone. you know? she really wanted to explore and go for it and it was really remarkable and the amount of preparation she did and the discipline and the precision. i never worked with an actor who's as precise a as sandra. >> rose: when you got ready to prepare for this, did you watch other spay movies like "2001: a space odyssey" those kinds of films about space even though they were made a long time ago? >> well, a bunch of them, yes, because you want to see how they solved certain technological aspects of film making. the only one i didn't come close was "2001." the only way i can exemplify
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that is that -- >> rose: to watch it? >> it would have been like taking a shower next to a porn star before going out with your girlfriend. (laughter) >> rose: that's what it would be like? >> that's what it would be like. i haven't seen it. right now i have to wait for a couple of years before i can watch -- i can watch "2001" again. you know, it's not only the best space movie ever, it's one of the best films ever. and the whole -- >> rose: and what would it have done to you if you watched it other than your metaphor of the porn queen before the girlfriend >> it's just that it's so lucid in terms of the -- >> rose: that you might be copying it? >> not copy, just the feeling that what i'm doing is stealing. >> rose: oh, oh, i see, you have no inspiration. >> i would feel that it's just
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-- why to do this? and so i saw the film that i love but i don't have in the big -- like "2001." >> rose: interesting point. >> there's actually a very good one, a fritz lang film of the '20s that is "women in the moon" that is -- it's a film in 1926, i think and he already predicted the twist off rocket -- >> rose: twist off and boom. >> well, he was german so maybe there was something. >> rose: started early. yeah. i want you to set this up. this is dr. stone trying to make contact with someone while floating alone through space. i mean, give me what's beyond what we see what's going on. is it anything? you want to show what about her in this scene. anything? >> yeah, it was this -- this
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idea of her -- the difficulty of communication. >> rose: you didn't want anybody steering you? all right, roll tape, here it is. >> (gasping) >> do you copy? houston, do you copy?
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houston, this is mission specialist ryan stone. i am off structure and i'm drifting. do you copy? anyone? up? >> there was another thing. in terms of story, when -- it was this whole thing of her attempt to communicate also the whole thing of living in your own bubble. but together with that it was in terms of the directorial approach it was that until that
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moment we're watching this character in an objective way. >> rose: right. >> in a third person. and now the camera goes -- >> rose: she's the narrator. >> but now the camera goes inside her point of view. the camera switchs into a first person kind of situation and what we wanted to do is that the camera goes out and doesn't go out to become again a third person but it becomes a third astronaut. the audience is now one of -- partaking with the journey. and the camera starts to follow the same laws of physics of the characters in zero gravity. >> rose: she had to survive, didn't she? >> yeah. >> rose: (laughs) >> actually, that was the whole point. we thought it would be a cheat now when we talk about oh, why at the end when you have one of those uncompromising endings. because it would be like one of
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our references -- a film reference was like it was before he climbed the last wall and they showed him. the her journey -- through her journey she learns to live again and it would be, i think, very horrible and anti-climateic to give this woman secondary and kill her. >> rose: this whole experience changed her and she wanted to live you don't want her dead, you want her to live. >> but it's not only what you want it's about wanting. but i understand that but he had a deeper sense of life and fearsness about death then it's unimportant but the whole point of the whole film is for her to put her feet back on the ground. to do that moment in which finally she is grounded and together with that it was the final metaphor that we are trying to get her back to the ground. and in the theme of rebirth --
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>> rose: oh! >> so it's kind of like an evolution chart. you start in the murky waters like a primordial soup and is filled with amphibians and then she comes out of the water, she crawls into the muck and then she has to go on four legs and until finally she's an erect human. but that was the kind of whole thing that has to do with that thing we're talking about for bible and the biological or urge that by the way because there's been spiritual interpretations of the whole thing. it falls into the understanding of every person to define how to qualify the film. which is also where the title "gravity" came from, like, you know, we were -- a lot of what we explored in the survival situation is that instinct that keeps pushing you forward and in a sense we viewed "gravity" as
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that. pulling us back down to the ground. >> rose: well, congratulations. >> thank you, charlie. >> thank you so much. >> rose: magritte, the mystery of the ordinary explores the work of the painter from 1926 to 1938. magritte wanted to defamiliarize the familiar and in the process created some of the most iconic paintings in art history. the show was co-cure rated by my three guests. anne umland is curator of painting and skun which you are at moma. josef hefl stein is curator in houston and stephanie d'alessandro is curator of in chicago. stephanie, let me go with you. how did this come about? >> i have a lucky role to play in this that after we finished the project with moma a few years ago we got a lovely phone
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call from anne inviting the art institute to be part of a project that josef and anne has been talking about and to be the third partner and at the art institute we love magritte, we have a great history of surrealism and it was an easy one word answer, absolutely yes. well, i guess that's two words. >> rose: why would you want another partner? >> well, i think the case of our partnership here and with stephanie in particular i have to confess i don't know if i ever told her this but we know that we wanted the show to end in 1938 and we knew that the art institute of chicago had the picture that we wanted to be the last one everyone saw when they left. >> rose: i knew there was something there. that always is. >> you have that amazing painting time transfixed and so why three? i think it was the menil collection has the largest group of magrittes. anywhere in the united states.
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and then just to traverse the country. >> rose: so how is it traveling? >> well, it's here until january 12, then it goes houston, opens around valentine's day, is that right, joseph? and then we'll be in chicago for the summer. people people in those respecting cities and programs like this don't really gate sense to experience something you don't ordinarily see. tell me who magritte was? >> he was a strange guy. he was a very interesting man, sort of a bourgeois in a way. sort of the anti-artist, almost, a cliche of a non-artist. me t he behaved like that. so he never had a studio really, he presented himself as a painter with his tie and suit and he kind of disliked this notion of the bohemian painter which was kind of the 19th century romantic image of the
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artist. he liked dogs, he was never -- he never had children and when he once came to houston he loved to wear a cowboy hat. so he was a funny character. >> his boler hat. although i would say only -- and we've talked about this a bit that i think for magritte he puts the boler hat on in the late '30s. he -- early this period i the figure he identified himself with or at least his contemporaries identified him with it was romantic figure of a lost jockey galloping off into the unknown shoals of the avant-garde in paris and that though he certainly did cultivate this aspect of being a bourgeois in the midst of the realists who were -- so that's from 1938, it's a publicity shot. right, stephanie >> that's a photograph taken of magritte in 1938 when he went
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back to london after he went back there for three months and it's the first time we see him now with the boler hat on sitting next to this picture. it's this kind of first public persona. i mean, we think of warhol with his wig. this is magritte with his boler hat and we see him a lot in the '60s. so the show ends with his entree on to the world. >> he was a modern man. the anonymous person who has nod identity or individual kind of identity any more. so there's this picture of a man reduced to a very standardized dress which was part of the film too going on in the '20s. >> rose: you called it the mystery of the ordinary swchlt. >> uh-huh. yes, because i think both those words are ones that magritte and his contemporaries engaged with. thought about, used in their
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writings and there was a quote, in fact, that was my -- that was the original long winded title that we talked about they that got whittled down because his friend paul nuget who was belgian wrote at one point that to look at magritte's paintings and to turn around and look at the world again was to find the world had been altered, there were no longer any ordinary things and so originally the title we played around with was "no more ordinary things." like down with the ordinary, up with mystery. and it ended up being more interesting to -- >> rose: magritte 1926 to 1938. where was he before that? >> he was in brussels and he was working both as a commercial artist and painting and he was making pictures that were quasi-futures abstract. and in' 26 he decided to turn to
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painting objects in all their realizeable detail to turn his back on conventional notions of avant-garde paintings. >> does his commercial background show up in his paintings? >> i think that lot, yeah. very early on and of course -- even the flatness in a way in which he paints things. i don't know, envelopes, very artificial. >> also, the beginning of an early career it's what helps make him an artist, helps make him a famous artist in the end because he knows from his graphic design advertising work what is an indelible image. and he capitalize on that in his work. >> i agree. >> and that sort of queer, bold, instant commune aability. that's an overly long work i
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think it has to come out of that early training. the one other person i can think about is man ray who, like magritte, has this fine art and commercial art background and it's interesting that they both have a fine arts career and a tremendously suck saysful commercial art career. >> rose: what was the quote at the end, we end to reduce what is strange to what is familiar. i tend to restore the familiar to the strange. >> yeah. >> rose: that's what he does and what still is almost disturbing when you really get involved into looking at these pictures it is's almost like a trap. this is very a familiar and almost boring and banal but then there are tricks that he uses as a painterened-to-really defamiliarize what you think you know. i think he does that in a unique way. >> i guess the flip side of that quote is that isn't it fine to
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make the familiar strange, the strange familiar. and so everyday becomes haunted. >> how good were his painting skills? >> he was a very good painter and we see him flaunt some of that have in the show. he's so good at techniques to fool the eye. but the thing that's amazing about him. he firsts out in 26, he's making quasi-futurist abstract work. he intentionally adopts an academic painting style. there was photographs in the catalog and show of magritte sitting in front of his canvass that are under way and unlike someone-- especially you think about 1926, matisse's painting, picasso's painting-- these are artists who might lay in a sketch but get to the canvas and do their work on the surface. magritte is laying in an image and then painting sections. very, very much in detail. perfect detail and then laying
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in the next patch like an academic painter would. and this is part of his really wholehearted practice his intentional shunning of one kind of painting style. not just the way it looks and the illusionistic quality it has but really becoming a different kind of painter as a thwart of so much convention i think. >> i think it owes a lot to traditional -- and this kind of suspicional painting, traditional bourgeois and backwards and non-critical -- so there was a very strong interest from the da da people on to actually kind of undermine painting. the retinal beauty and the cultivated sense of painting. so he has perfectionized that in a very unique way. >> i agree that there is part of
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magritte's sproj this removal of self, right? that he is striving to make images that don't have a sense of the hand, that don't speak of an individual, that are deliberately dead pan and neutral in their style but i come back to he in' 27 sort of right at the beginning of our moment he said something like "painting excites our admiration through its ability to convey likenesss of things we do not admire in the original." and i think yes painting as a bourgeois category of art making there's no question that that was under the tack by the surrealists but there is still -- i believe this is purely subjective in this moment that we look at that this thrill on magritte's part of what paint can do that nothing else can in terms of image making. which doesn't contradict what you're saying. >> rose: let's look at some of the paintings in the exhibition.
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let me see the first image, please. >> well, there she is. (laughs) >> that's a very disturbing piece. that is so directly aggressive because usually it's a very kind of understated form of aggression or violence that's in his work. but here that's a whole surreal topic of glorifying the child, the creativity of the child but here the child becomes kind of a demon, a very dangerous being. >> rose: the next one is the menace of essen? >> that's a great work. the >> painted for his first one person show in 1927. it was the largest picture he'd ever made up to that point and it's also just one of the many things one can say about it is it's one of the first time that the boler hat in men went on to magritte's pictorial stage. >> the third is "the treachery of images."
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>> yes. instantly recognizable. >> it's very interesting. why is this the most thing -- and funny. and profound >> the next is -- >> it's kind of interesting, too though, the pipe that is the first time that the language or implaj if there's just a confusing creativity moment. >> rose: and the next someone "the interpretation of dreams." >> this is his ripest -- this is the one that's done in english uniquely. he made this picture for a show at the julian levy gallery in new york city so we're so thrilled they have to in the show. >> the chrex of an artist, very wonderful. >> it shows the importance of his legacy.
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living artists have always been fascinated in magritte. including andy warhol. >> rose: the next is "the lovers." >> yeah. mysterious and strange. discomforting. >> discomforting. >> there's a lot of stereotypes about this one. for example, that, you know, magritte's mother committed suicide and was found after she drowned herself with her night dress over her head and so there's this myth which is probably not true that this is imagery comes from that memory. >> or it could be true. i think for me that was the story that began to be told until the 1940s about -- and this image in particular. and i always raise a finger and say but there's more because if you say this is about the mother's suicide it's kind of like, oh, we solved the picture. >> and marguerite was totally against it. >> the next is the titanic
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phase? >> this is one of those pictures which i think you can't appreciate the power of it until you have it in person. it's the physical presence of it. this really strong outline of this woman fighting against this man who seems to be overtaking her except her bodily form has kind of already overtaken him. the way that it's painted, that really strong, beautiful shadow on the side of it. it's just got the physical presence of fighting flatness and volume at the same time and the violence of it. it's really -- it's a picture you have to see in person. >> rose: what's the size of it? >> it's about four and a half feet tall. >> it's big. it's an imposing picture. and that forward arm of hers with that mull is -- yeah. >> rose: the next one is clairvoyance. >> oh, if i always think this is like his demonstration picture. like this is magritte practicing
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his own particular method of image making. right? because he famously -- well, it interesting to look at this. he draws our attention to the egg which is on this -- when you begin to look at it peculiarly uptilted table. if you follow his gaze it's not looking at the egg and -- but even more significantly it's not looking at his canvas so his brush almost unbiden conjures up this bird. >> rose: >> it's also a picture of magritte. >> when we do we already see him taking things so the time period of this picture coinciding with him writing about his process -- >> i also see it as kind of a manifesto. it's too strident a worth but there's an announcement of himself and his practice as seeing something and seeing something familiar related to it that's mysterious and strange and showing us him actually creating that right in front of us.
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>> rose: the next one is not to be reproduced. >> isn't that like a great one? >> so wonderful. >> the play of mirrors in this work is so remarkable and it's so beautifully painted, too. nominally it's a portrait of edward james, right? his great patron. but magritte referred to it as a failed portrait but one that denies you what you expect. >> rose: and last is time transfixed. >> well, so what do you think, stephanie? it's a work that i look at all the time. >> except in the past couple of months and it's one that still haunts me when i walk into the gallery. >> rose: haunts you because -- >> because i think it's a perfect example of the familiar and this you look at it and you can easily say i oh it's a fireplace hearth and it's a pipe. then you can say it's not a pipe it's a train and the smoke from the pipe is the smoke of the train and there's an ybtd the motion of this train and then
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the stop of train on the clock. there's candlesticks that aren't doing anything. it's a picture that you can walk by and think of as so familiar and i'm very familiar with that and yet it still haunts me. it's sofa nil war that it's not familiar. >> tell me what happened to him after 1938. >> well, 1939 as we all know the war breaks out. belgium is occupied, magritte lives out the war in occupied belgium. he doesn't make a lot of pictures. >> he was kind of worried about being -- there was a moment that he's afraid to be put in the mental asylum because the nazis obviously didn't like his art and so there's that. >> rose: when he did this lecture what was it called? >> it was called "lifeline."
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so hi in wonderful surrealist fashion narrate it had development of his life and art as a surrealist painter and talked about influences and inspirations and childhood moments. >> did he go back to commercial start >> after paris he did, he was forced to. it was in -- in 1929 at the end of '29 the wall street crash happened and the whole economy collapsed and no one sold and he went back to brussels because he couldn't make a living anymore. >> he was supposed to have a one person show in march of 1930 two weeks before his gallery went bankrupt and the girlfriend of his dealer ran off with another man and marguerite and his wife george jet were left in paris without a means of sport. jor jet. >> so his bri brar, basically, his library to maintain. then he made a great sale. he sold some of his most important paintings. >> then he went back to brussels
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and opened up a commercial art studio. >> rose: that in 1966, one year before his death "i don't want to belong to my own time or for that matter to any other." he believed that? >> well, maybe in the way -- yeah, i think art is timeless. there's something very confusing and the mystery of the ordinary is really true. you like to believe you know it and have seen it many, many times. >> pop artists thought they were his tradition. >> and that statement, in fact, in '66 was made at a time when he was being compared frequently to the pop artists so he said that i don't want to belong to my own time or any other to almost distinguish himself from these warhol or oldenberg or liechtenstein who were embracing commercial contemporary culture and magritte wanted to say "i'm
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more enduring. >> going back to the title of this exhibition, he said pop artists painted reality as it was while he sufficient fused it with a sense of mystery. >> or the -- it's the poetic potential of everyday. that's what i think magritte does that only he does and that when you think about all the different artists that come after you -- that he gives permissions to. and you can think of johnson and rauchenberg going beyond abstract expressions. i could go on, right. you can go on right up until the present moment. >> rose: go see it at moma and then it goes next to houston and then comes to the art institute. thank you very much. >> thank you, charlie. >> thank you very much. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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