A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Majolica in the Movies: The Hours

The Hours is a lovely movie starring Ed Harris and Meryl Streep. It's a movie I've seen probably a dozen times since its release in 2002. It's most famously known for being the movie that Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for, but it has other fabulous performances as well from Julianne Moore, Ms. Streep, John C. Reilly and a scene stealing cameo by Toni Collette.  It was clearly an A-List project from the start with an all-star cast and a phenomenal score by the reclusive Phillip Glass, who does not usually lend his talents to film work. It is clear from the period details in the film that no expense was spared in bringing this story to the screen. That is true in the dressing of the sets as well.

I've always loved observing movie set design. The right designer can make a huge difference to the overall effect of a film. Sometimes the design can even overshadow the rest of the movie. Who can think of Barry Lyndon, The Great Gatsby or My Fair Lady without being enthralled by the beauty of the sets? The Hours isn't overwhelmed by the set design, but it clearly had a large budget. If it weren't such a moving story it could have easily been overshadowed by the gorgeous period sets. Ironically, it isn't the set pieces that brings us to this blog, but the contemporary story involving Ed Harris and Meryl Streep.

Meryl Streep plays one of those hip New Yorkers who lives in a fabulous old New York apartment with her partner Allison Janney, her daughter Claire Danes and no apparent means of support. She spends her day buying huge containers of flowers and arranging a fabulous party in her home for her dying friend, poet Ed Harris. The apartment is decorated in typical hip New York fashion with lots of books and clutter and loads of little antique knick-knacks. Among this splurge of decor I noticed a piece of majolica, a large Haynes pottery pitcher filled with flowers! What a lovely discovery!

I'm always looking for majolica in movie sets but I don't find it very often. I've written about my previous discoveries on these pages but they've been few and far between. I would encourage readers to drop me a line when they find a piece of majolica in a movie set. It's just such a wonderful little treat for us collectors!