07 March 2015

Makoto Wada’s Movie Inspired Art 3: European Classics

Makoto Wada (和田誠, b. 1936) is best known as an illustrator whose work has adorned the pages of writers as diverse as Shinichi Hoshi, Haruki Murakami, and Agatha Christie.  In addition to illustration, he has also dabbled in film directing and animation – winning the Noburo Ofuji Award for 1964 for his comic animated short Murder (殺人).  In Murder, he spoofs a wide variety of famous film and literary icons including Poirot, Sam Spade, Dracula and James Bond.  He has also done a range of paintings inspired by film stars and classic movies.  This is my third in a series of posts looking at his art and his muses.  See also: Part 1: Early Hollywood and Part 2: Hollywood Classics

You can support this artist by ordering collections of his work such as:

In November 2011, Makoto Wada held an exhibition entitled "World of European Films" 「ヨーロッパ映画の世界」at the  Dojima Avanza Entrance Hall in his native Osaka.  According to Kansai Art Beat, the exhibition featured paintings inspired by everything from the popular Harry Potter film adaptions to art cinema classics like Fellini's La Strada (1954).

One of the images used to promote the film was a striking image of Sean Connery as James Bond against a red background.
I believe this studio photo of Connery was used for the promotion of Goldfinger (1964).  

One of my favourites from Makoto's European film series is his rendering of the unforgettable moment from Godard's Breathless when Jean Seberg, in her Herald Tribute T-shirt kisses Jean-Paul Belmondo on the cheek:

The yellow background suits the mood of Breathless, I think, and Wada has captured the body language of the two protagonists perfectly.  Less successful, in my opinion, is Wada's rendering of Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948):

Yes, this is one of the classic stills from the movie, but the adaptation lacks finesse.  Wada's body proportions for the ballet dancer Vicky Page are all wrong.  Actress Moira Shearer was much more delicately proportioned than that, and her nose was quite dainty in real life.  Wada makes her look more like one of Cinderella's evil stepsisters. 

In contrast, Wada's interpretation of Albert Lamorisse's fantasy featurette The Red Balloon (1956) is spot on in its use of colour and design.  

2015 Catherine Munroe Hotes