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Christopher Nolan, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach on the Painters That Inspire Them

The Tate Gallery in London launched a great little series of videos today entitled Film meets Art, in which prominent U.K. directors discuss their appreciation for and how they were influenced by a particular British artist. Above, Christopher Nolan talks about his love of Francis Bacon’s work and how it shaped his rendition of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.Nolan says that Bacon was his favorite artist from a young age, which I find to be very unusual and striking idea. (What kind of a childhood did Nolan have that this was how he saw the world?)

Mike Leigh is currently making a film about JMW Turner — Mr Turner, in which Timothy Spall plays the artist — so it’s obviously a natural fit to have him talk about the great 19th century painter.

The fact that Leigh here focuses on Turner’s sketches is very refreshing, and echoes in a way the reticence Leigh himself has to give away too much about his work before the films are finished.

Finally, Ken Loach talks about his love of Hogarth, an artist I would have assumed Loach — who is a raw portrayer of working-class stories — might find a little soft or sentimental. Interestingly, Loach positions Hogarth as an outsider, someone who — like Loach himself — worked separate from “establishment cliques” and thus was able to capture the reality of people’s lives.


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