13 March 2015

Makoto Wada’s Movie Inspired Art 4: Modern 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,  Part 2: Hollywood Classics, and Part 3: European Classics.

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

Order: Makoto Wada Cinema Art

Life is Beautiful (1997) put Italian comedian Roberto Benigni on the Hollywood map when he won not only the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film but also the  Best Actor Oscar.  Wada's painting captures the essence of this tragicomic film: the resilience of the human spirit in even the most desperate of circumstances, seen here through the love of two parents for their young son.  

Luc Besson's Léon: The Professional (1994) was written as a star vehicle for Jean Reno, hence the title, but what most people remember is the unlikely friendship that develops between Léon and the teenage girl Mathilda (Nathalie Portman).  

In this painting Wada brings together two seminal moments in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993): the girl in the red coat and Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) and his employee Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) writing the famous list of Jews that they hoped to save from the Nazis.  
Wada's take on the movie poster for Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire (1987) captures the contemplative gaze of  the angel Damiel (Bruno Ganz) as he sits on the Victory Column (Siegesäule) looking out over the divided city of Berlin.  Although the body positioning of Solveig Dommartin as Marion is different than in the poster, she does make that pose during her acrobatics in the film itself.

Next: Makoto Wada's Movie Inspired Art 5: Hitchcock

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2015