Chris Weitz's Inspirations When Crafting 'New Moon': Victorian Paintings & 'Doctor Zhivago'

Little did you know there is an educational lesson on history of cinema tucked away inside a teensy little movie you might have heard of called "New Moon."

When the soundtrack for the film was on its way out, we got a similar lesson on previous generation's soundtracks from OK Go and Lykke Li. OK Go said the hype surrounding the music in "New Moon" reminded them of their experience when "Pretty in Pink" first came out. For Lykke, it was Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet."

Director Chris Weitz (pictured with Kristen Stewart) had a similar sort of inspiration when he was crafting "New Moon," though his stretched back to far before the '80s. In a recent interview with Chris, he told us some of his muses for the film. We have detailed them below so everyone can go into the cinema and watch the movie with an enlightened mind.


What it is: A group of English painters, poets and critics came together in 1848 to found the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in mutual support of new directions in contemporary art. They felt Raphael's style of art had a corrupting influence on the craft, and thus rejected his styles: hence, Pre-Raphaelite. Their paintings, by contrast, focused on painting directly from nature in an honest manner that rejected contrived compositions. Their work contained close attention to detail, intense colors and complex compositions that had been found in early Italian art. Click on this gallery for some examples.

How Chris used it: "We planned for the entire film to feel like a Pre-Raphaelite painting in terms of the darker tones too and the grey tones and colors in the Pacific Northwest as well. We wanted to have a sense of a world of detail and color in Forks and then the iris suddenly opens and you're in Italy. And also, even when you get to Italy, we start playing with lights and darks."


Who are they: Both Lean and Kurosawa are known for filming some of the best remembered big-screen epics filmed. English filmmaker Lean directed "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Japanese director Kurosawa is best known for "Ran" and "Seven Samurai." Both directors are known for their epic styles of filmmaking in developing the classic "blockbuster." Their films spanned the course of the 20th century, from the 1940s through the 1990s. Many modern directors have claimed direct influence from the two, such as Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone and Steven Spielberg. Check out more information on each of the directors online at and PBS.

How Chris used them: "In terms of how we set about shooting ['New Moon'], it probably feels a bit more like my sad attempt to echo David Lean or Kurosawa or something like that. And that goes down to the tradition of hiring Alexandre Desplat to do the music, because he's really a romantic composer. In this case, I told him, 'Let's do "Doctor Zhivago."'"

The end result: "I think that there's a lot of color to it. A lot more color to it than the first film, which had a very restricted palate. I was able to work with an amazing cinematographer: Javier Aguirresarobe, who shot the upcoming "The Road" and 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' and who comes with a European sensibility for light and color. The scale of things is much bigger, basically. And so the scale of the emotions become bigger. Within still trying to make it about people, there's a kind of tremendous emotionality to the piece that we try to keep within the bounds of not being silly. It's an unabashedly romantic big scale epic."

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