Tim Burton 'Big Eyes' Movie Tells The Story Of Art Couple Margaret and Walter Keane
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the project centers on the life of Mrs. Keane and her wildly ambitious husband, Walter. The two art world hot shots rose to fame in the 1950s and '60s as a result of Margaret's kitschy paintings of doe-eyed children. But the power duo eventually divorced, resulting in a decades-long battle over the artwork created while they were married. Walter, who once likened himself to Rembrandt, claimed he was the mastermind behind the fictional characters, prompting Margaret to challenge her ex to a "paint-off" in court to prove who was the rightful artist. A paint-off did eventually happen and Margaret won, causing Walter to pay out millions in damages (though he never stopped claiming rights to their big-eyed kid paintings).
Burton has been a longtime collector of Margaret's work, and her influence can be seen in a number of his films, including "Beetlejuice" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas." So who will join Burton in his sure-to-be-insane Keane vs. Keane project? According to ARTINFO, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds were on board at the beginning but both jumped ship before the movie took off. According to NME, Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz are now both up for playing the odd art couple.
My Life as a Famous Artist
July 8, 1975 Awake! article, pp. 12-16:
YOU may have seen a painting of a wistful child with unusually large and sad-looking eyes. Quite likely, it was one I painted. Sad to say, I was as unhappy as the children I painted.
As a sickly child, often alone and very shy, I developed an early talent for drawing. An inquisitive nature led me to wonder about the purpose of life, why we are here, why there are pain, sorrow and death, and if God is good. Always “Why?”
These questions, I believe, were later reflected in the eyes of my paintings of children and, in part, account for their worldwide appeal. The eyes, always the focal point, were often described as “soulful.” They seemed to reflect the spiritual alienation of most people today—their longing for something beyond what this system offers.
My road to popularity in the art world was a rocky one. There were two wrecked marriages and much mental anguish along the way. Controversies surrounding my private life and the authorship of my paintings resulted in international wire stories, lawsuits, front-page pictures and even headlines. For many years I had allowed my second husband to take credit for my paintings. But one day, unable to continue the deception any longer, I left him and my home in California and moved to Hawaii. After a period of depression and very little painting, I began trying to rebuild my life and later married again.
One turning point came in 1970 when a newspaper reporter arranged a televised “paint-out” between me and my former husband, to be held in San Francisco’s Union Square to establish the authorship of the paintings. I was the only one to show up and accept the challenge. Life magazine covered this event in an article that corrected a previous erroneous story that attributed the paintings to my former husband.
My part in the deception had lasted for twelve years and is one that I will always regret. However, it taught me the value of being truthful and that neither fame, love, money nor anything else is worth a bad conscience.
The Unexpected Change
Jehovah’s witnesses came often, every couple of weeks, to my door, but I rarely took their literature or paid much attention to them. Little did I realize that in due time one knock on my door would drastically change my life. That particular morning two Oriental women, one Chinese and the other Japanese, appeared on my doorstep. Sometime prior to their coming, my daughter had shown me an article about the sabbath being Saturday, not Sunday, and about the importance of observing it. It had made such an impression on both of us that we started attending the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I had even stopped painting on Saturday, thinking it was a sin to do so. So when I asked one of these women at my door which day was the sabbath, I was surprised that she answered “Saturday.” So I asked, “Why don’t you observe it?”
Gradually I was convinced from the Bible that the Almighty God is Jehovah, the Father (not the Son), and as I studied I began to rebuild my shattered faith, this time on the true foundation.
Instead, the falsity of the Trinity doctrine, as well as the fact that the Witnesses know and make known the name of the Father, the true God, also their love for one another and their strict adherence to the Scriptures, convinced me that I had found the true religion. I could not help but be deeply impressed by the contrast between Jehovah’s witnesses and the other religions on the matter of finances.
In time, my daughter and I were baptized, together with about forty others, on August 5, 1972, in the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean—a day I will never forget. ...
From Sad Eyes to Bright Eyes
Another change has been that I spend only about a fourth of the time I formerly spent painting, and yet, amazingly, I accomplish almost the same amount of work. Too, sales and comments indicate that the paintings are getting even better. Painting used to be almost an obsession with me. I was driven to paint because it was my therapy, escape and relaxation—my life completely revolved around it. I still enjoy it immensely, but the addiction to it and dependency on it are gone. Since my growing in knowledge of Jehovah, the Source of all creativity, it is no wonder that the quality of my paintings has increased as the time of execution has decreased.
As I look back on my life, my first oil painting, done when I was about eleven years old, now seems quite significant. It was two versions of the same little girl—the one in the background was sad, with tears in her eyes; the one in the foreground had bright smiling eyes. In the past, the symbolic large, sad eyes I painted mirrored the puzzling contradictions I saw in the world around me, and which raised in me so many questions. Now I have found in the Bible the reasons for the contradictions about life that once tormented me, as well as the answers to my questions.
After my gaining accurate knowledge of God and his purpose for mankind, it led me to the real security of having God’s approval and the inner peace and happiness that go with it. This is being reflected in my paintings to a degree that others even detect it. The sad, lost look of the large eyes is giving way now to a happier look. My husband even named one of my recent happy big-eyed children “The Eye Witness”!—Contributed.