When you look at a film like Guardians of the Galaxy, you wouldn't think its sharp, vibrant, futuristic look would actually be inspired by a series of paintings from the early '50s, but that's very much the case. Titled "The Empire of Lights," the series of oil canvas paintings from René Magritte were a major inspiration on Marvel's latest superhero adventure, and especially for its director, James Gunn.
"That was one of my big guiding forces," Gunn told us when we visited the film's London set last year, citing this painting as being a major inspiration for him. "The design of the movie was to create these contrasting looks with things."
What he's referencing is how the series of paintings play off both the light and dark side of things, with the top half taking place in the daytime and the bottom at night. "There’s the pulp mixed with the grittiness; the beauty mixed with the ugliness," he says. "And that’s throughout the whole movie."
Gunn admits he wanted to inject the film with the kind of grittiness featured in groundbreaking sci-fi movies like Alien and Blade Runner, but infuse it with old-school pulp. "I wanted to bring back some of the color of the 1950s and '60s. You know, pulp science fiction movies," he says.
Horror fans may also recognize "The Empire of Light" as the inspiration behind the classic scene and subsequent poster for The Exorcist. Can you spot the similarities?
We'll all get to see how the painting rubs off on the look and feel of Guardians of the Galaxy when the film hits theaters on August 1.
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