This 2019 thriller film follows a group of influential individuals in the Los Angeles contemporary art scene. One day, an old man passes away and a member of the group comes across his extensive, hidden artwork. As usual, they profit off the story and create big bucks where art and commerce collide. However, the deceased artist begins to haunt everyone who used his creations to earn a profit. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Velvet Buzzsaw is a unique movie that falls somewhere between mystery and horror. The film stars Jake Gyllenhall, Rene Russo and Zawe Ashton. Other notable stars in the film include Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Natalia Dyer. Check out various screen facts below.
Written for the Stars
Dan Gilroy worked with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo in Nightcrawler, released in 2014. Velvet Buzzsaw is the second collaboration with these three individuals. Gilroy wrote Morf and Rhodora’s characters with Gyllenhaal and Russo in mind. “Jake plays Morf Vandewalt, who’s a contemporary art critic. And his character is the protagonist who leads us through the film and he takes us deeper and deeper into a mystery that leads to a final shocking realization,” Dan stated in an interview with Vanity Fair. “Rene plays Rhodora Haze, who started in a punk band in the 70s and now runs the biggest contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles. She was a musician who turned her back away from art to making money and she’s been very good at it.“
Vetril Dease’s Artwork Origins
Vetril Dease is the individual who becomes a celebrated artist posthumously in the film. However, Dease is a fictitious artist, but a real person who lived in South Carolina during the 1850s. Gilroy said in an interview, “Someone actually pointed out that it is an anagram for ‘devil satire’ which I didn’t even know, and is creepy in a weird way because I had 50 names on that list [of potential names].”
Dease’s art and character was based on a real artist named Henry Darger. Like the artist in Velvet Buzzsaw, Darger was considered an outsider artist. He also spent some time in an asylum, he was orphaned and institutionalized as a child, and his extensive artwork was discovered after his death in 1973. Darger’s masterpiece is titled The Story of the Vivian Girls in what is known as The Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnean War storm, caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. His artwork was 15 volumes totaling over 15,000 pages – nearly as long as the title! Saxon Brice created Vetril Dease’s art for Velvet Buzzsaw. Interestingly, he’s not a well known artist, just like Dease.
Meaning of the Film
Velvet Buzzsaw was not an easy film to comprehend. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dan Gilroy was asked what he wanted audiences to take away from the movie. “I hope people look at art in a slightly different way. Any time you listen to a piece of music or look at a sculpture or a painting or a film, you realize the artists behind that have invested what I believe to be their creative soul into the work,” the film’s creator said. “To me, that’s a bit of a sacred thing and I think we’ve lost that a little bit. I would love it if we could return to that.”