Today is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day, and this got us thinking. What are the classic movies that used various art forms and professions as an inspirational canvas?
If you need to top up your creative mojo during this dreary lockdown, here are five unbeatable films that may help you along the way.
1. Be inspired to become a teacher – Dead Poets Society (1989)
The late Robin Williams delivers one of his finest performances in Peter Weir's sensitive drama. Williams plays an unorthodox teacher at a strict, traditional boys prep school in New Hampshire, dialling down the comic zing to suggest that still waters really do run deep.
His character, Mr. Keating, is averse to dry academic theory, and finely attuned to the turbulent adolescent mindset of his students. Keating realises that life's riches can't be taught through books alone, and he inspires an odyssey of discovery.
It sounds awfully saccharine from that description, but Weir's restrained direction, Williams' atypically subtle performance and a fine supporting cast (including a young Ethan Hawke) sell us on the concept. And the "oh Captain, my Captain" climax is likely the finest testament to the noble teaching profession in modern cinema. Has it inspired you yet?
2. Be inspired to become a writer – Misery (1990)
Let's put aside the ankle-bashing horror of this classic Stephen King adaptation. Fundamentally, it's a story about the challenges and triumphs of the writing process – albeit one filtered through a brilliantly suspenseful tale of paranoia.
James Caan is unusually subdued as writer Paul Sheldon, who seeks to leave his reputation as a purveyor of trashy novels behind. En route back to his publisher with a bold new manuscript, he's involved in a car crash, and saved by apparently docile "number one fan" Annie Wilkes. She's played to astonishing, Oscar-winning effect by Kathy Bates, and Annie's layers are steadily peeled back to reveal the psychotic underbelly.
This first becomes apparent when Annie discovers that Paul plans to kill off her beloved heroine Misery, setting in motion a fraught battle whereby writing a new novel may, or may not, ensure his own survival. If Paul could write under these extreme circumstances, we're sure you could have a go during lockdown.
3. Be inspired to become an artist – Frida (2002)
Salma Hayek delivers a career-defining turn in this emotive and colourful look at Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Horribly disfigured in a car accident, Kahlo rose from the ashes to forever imprint herself on the art world, and it's a message that all of you budding artists can no doubt take to heart.
Directed by Julie Taymor, the movie is an in-depth look at the complex painter, tracing her marriages, triumphs and tragedies. Yet all the while, it champions her as a fulcrum of the 20th-century artistic movement. Hayek was Oscar-nominated for her performance, and the excellent supporting cast includes Alfred Molina as Kahlo's husband Diego Rivera.
In fact, Hayek's own journey to make the movie is inspirational in and of itself. She vowed to gain access to Kahlo's original artworks for the purposes of the production, eventually securing permission from Rivera's former lover Dolores Olmedo Patino.
4. Be inspired to become a filmmaker – The Disaster Artist (2017)
The hilarious and confounding making of 2003's cult classic The Room fuels this affectionate comedy-drama. James Franco writes, directs and stars as hapless aspiring filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, a man possessed of a dubious accent and even more dubious creative aspirations. Together with his best friend and eventual creative muse Greg Sestero (played by Franco's brother Dave), Tommy vows to make his mark on Hollywood.
To that end, he fashions a drama with serious, noble intent, about "how people are so strange these days". The end result, after a turbulent and chaotic production, is The Room, a laughably po-faced, woodenly acted mess that, in real life, has gone on to inspire raucous screenings the world over. Together, groups of people will quote the movie's dialogue ("I did not hit her! I did not!") and throw plastic cutlery at the screen whenever a photo frame showing stock images of spoons shows up.
Yet the real joy of The Disaster Artist is its refusal to sneer at Wiseau. For all his eccentricities, Wiseau is championed for, at the very least, sticking to his vision and getting his movie made. It's a classic example of not letting people get you down, so isn't it time you took the lead from Wiseau and picked up a camera yourself?
5. Be inspired to become a musician – Rocketman (2019)
The life story of British pop maestro Elton John becomes a fantasia of highs and lows in Dexter Fletcher's critically acclaimed drama. Rocketman isn't strictly interested in observing the chronological flow of John's life, scrambling both song and context to make a wider dramatic point about John's path to stardom. For example, the lively 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' is applied to a rites-of-passage sequence early on, highlighting John's teenage years in London.
Structural controversy aside, the movie is ultimately an inspirational story about pursuing one's own idiosyncrasies. For sure, it has its darker moments, particularly as John's ego leads him down the path towards drugs and isolation. But, thanks to Taron Egerton's stirring central performance, it becomes a statement about individuality and embracing the rough with the smooth. And it may inspire you to sit down at that piano (should you have one) and knock out that tune that's been rumbling around in your head.
Which of these movies do you find the most inspirational? Let us know @Cineworld.