Water for Elephants opens in the USA on April 22, 2011. In the meantime, to pass the time, I put together a list of “What to Watch and Read while waiting for Water for Elephants, the film” ~ (please do not copy my content with out permission)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen ~ This is a no-brainer… Everyone should read the novel, it’s essential! This captivating romantic drama is set during the Great Depression and centers on young Jacob Jankowski and his future with The Benzini Brothers traveling circus. Retold in flashbacks by the now 93 year old Jacob, the story unfolds as Jacob falls in love with Marlena, who’s married to August the head animal trainer for the circus. (book summary)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck ~ The best historical novel about the Great Depression. A film (see below) was based on the novel and many songwriters have been inspired by the story’s main character, Tom Joad. (Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad and Woody Guthrie’s Ballad of Tom Joad)
Films set against the Great Depression ~
Paper Moon ~ One of my personal favorites. The art direction and costuming are flawless, plus it’s filmed in black and white which adds to the 1930’s feel. Tatum O’Neal won a Best Supporting Oscar for her portal of Addie Loggins and became the youngest actress ever to win an Academy Award.
The Grapes of Wrath ~ Director John Ford won an Academy Award for his direction of this timeless classic about a family’s struggle to survive during the Depression. Henry Fonda was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Tom Joad.
Places in the Heart ~ Sally Field won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in this beautiful film. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Costume Design.
Road to Perdition ~ Paul Newman, in his last film performance, and Tom Hanks star in this Depression Era film. It won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and was nominated for Best Art Direction. Two very good reasons to watch this film and experience the 1930’s.
Cinderella Man ~ For Costumes, Art Direction and the depiction of the depths of hardship endured during the Depression.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? ~ A totally hilarious look at 1930’s life, a satire based loosely off of Homer’s Odyssey. Watch it for the costumes and art direction. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? ~ This is another one of my favorite 1930’s themed films. Based on a novel the film depicts the very desperate side of the Depression and what people had to do to survive. The film was nominated for multiple Academy Awards including Best Director, Actress, Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.
Bonnie and Clyde ~ This legendary film about a legendary Depression Era outlaw couple is a modern classic. When the film debuted in 1967 the costumes were so popular that they became a fashion inspiration for many designers. This film was nominated for multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Actor, Actress, Costume Design and Cinematography. It won the Best Cinematography Award.
Films with a Circus theme ~
Carnivàle (HBOseries) ~ Set during the Depression this HBO series is riveting in its depiction of the gritty world of a traveling carnival and its bizarre characters. The costumes and art direction are superior. You’ll get hooked.
Greatest Show on Earth ~ This 1953 film won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was also nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Director. While not set in the 1930’s the film is still entertaining with regard to circus life.
Dumbo ~ How could I not include this Disney classic. It’s charming, sweet and Rosie made me do it…
Films, Francis Lawrence as Director ~
I Am Legend ~ This Sci-Fi thriller starring Will Smith showcases FL’s skills as a director who can be both thrilling and capture the intimate details. Samantha, the dog actor’s character, has nothing but good things to say about FL’s directorial skills…
Constantine ~ FL’s first feature length film, another Sci-Fi thriller, starring Keanu Reeves as Jack Constantine a cynic who’s seeking salvation from eternal damnation by sending half-demons back to Hell; based on the Hellblazer comic book.
Films, Jack Fisk as Production Designer ~
Days of Heaven ~ This is one of my all time favorite films. Everything about it is gorgeous. Watching this film will give you a clear visual understanding of JF’s talent as an Art Director. The film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and was directed by Terrence Malick, JF’s frequent collaborator and friend.
The New World ~ Another collaboration between Terrence Malick and JF. This historical film depicts the founding of the Jamestown, VA colony. JF beautifully recreates America before it was settled by explorers. The film was nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography.
There Will Be Blood ~ JF was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for this excellent film. The film is set against the Southern California oil boom during the early part of the twentieth century. Daniel Day Lewis won the Best Actor award and the film won Best Cinematography as well. TWBB was also nominated for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.
Films, Rodrigo Prieto as Cinematographer ~
Babel ~ RP’s second collaboration with Director Alejandro González Iñárritu the film features Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette along with an ensemble cast playing out this multi-narrative drama. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay.
Lust, Caution ~ Ang Lee directed this Chinese espionage thriller set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the 1940’s. The film flashes back to 1938 to events that lead up to the transformation of a naive university student into a Chinese resistance fighter against the Japanese invasion. Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and a BAFTA Award for the same category.
Brokeback Mountain ~ RP teams up again with Director Ang Lee for this complex romantic drama. Critically acclaimed and nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.
Films, Richard LaGravenese as Screenwriter ~
The Fisher King ~ RL’s first major screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This moving, yet whimsical film directed by Terry Gilliam stars Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams who was nominated for Best Actor for his performance as Parry, a deluded homeless man looking for the Holy Grail. This is also on my list of favorite films.
The Horse Whisperer ~ RL co-adapted the screenplay from the bestselling Nicholas Evans novel of the same name. The film is directed by Robert Redford who also plays the title role. Kristen Scott Thomas and Scarlett Johansson also star as mother and daughter. Nominated for two Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Director.
The Bridges of Madison County ~ Directed by and starring Clint Eastwood this film was adapted by RL from the bestselling Robert James Waller novel. The romantic drama also stars Meryl Streep. The film earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture and Best Actress. Meryl also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Films, Jacqueline West as Costume Designer ~
Quills ~ Jacqueline was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for this Napoleonic era historical drama portraying the Marquis De Sade’s battle inside an insane asylum. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix. The film was also nominated for Best Actor and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.
The New World ~ Jack Fisk (WFE Production Designer) and Jacqueline collaborated on this accurate glimps into America’s history depicting the events involving explorer Captain John Smith and the Native American woman, Pocahontas. The film stars Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale. The film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Cinematography.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ This epic film starring Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt was quite an achievement on many levels. Jacqueline earned her second Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her brilliant designs spanning 100 years. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Directer, Best Actor and Best Cinematography.
~All of the films above are available to rent (Netflix, Blockbuster, etc) or purchase. And of course Water for Elephants and The Grapes of Wrath are available at the library or your favorite bookseller~