Big Eyes

December 26th, 2014


Big Eyes

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A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

Release Year: 2014

Rating: 7.1/10 (531 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Director: Tim Burton

Stars: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter

A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

Writers: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

Krysten Ritter - DeeAnn
Amy Adams - Margaret Keane
Christoph Waltz - Walter Keane
Jason Schwartzman - Ruben
Danny Huston - Dick Nolan
Vanessa Ross - San Fran local lady
Terence Stamp - John Canaday
Emily Fonda - Sexy Girl
Stephanie Bennett - Coed #1
Elisabetta Fantone - Marta
Heather Doerksen - Gossipy Woman #1
Jill Morrison - Gallery customer
Madeleine Arthur - Older Jane
Jon Polito - Enrico Banducci
David Milchard - Snobby Artist

Taglines: A true story about art and the art of deception.


Official Website: Official Facebook | Official site |

Country: USA

Language: English, French, Italian

Release Date: 25 December 2014

Filming Locations: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Kate Hudson and Thomas Haden Church were previously attached to play the lead roles. They were replaced with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds. After a year in development, Witherspoon and Reynolds dropped out and Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz took the lead roles. See more »

User Review


Rating: 1/10

Despite our best efforts, the Keane Family has been unsuccessful in opening a dialogue with the creators of the film "Big Eyes". All of our communications to date have gone unanswered. We are here to dispel the myths perpetuated by the media.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Press Release: Official Statement by Susan Hale Keane, Daughter of Walter Stanley Keane

Born in 1947, I am Susan Keane, daughter of Barbara and Walter Keane.

Following the traumatic death of my brother Stanley, and a highly successful joint venture in real estate, throughout the late 40s and early 50s, my parents and I lived in post WW2 Europe, while maintaining a home in Berkeley, California, designed by Julia Morgan, built in 1906.

During that time, my mother, in pursuit of a PhD, studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu, fashion design with couturiers including Edwar Sene, and Universität Heidelberg, while my father studied painting at École des Beaux-Arts and L'Académie de la Grand Chaumière in Paris.

Initially speaking an amalgamation of 5 languages, I learned to draw and paint alongside my father from an early age.

During 1949, in the ballroom of our Berkeley mansion "Elmwood House", I watched my parents create, "Susie Keane's Puppeteens", "big eyed" wooden puppets, hand painted by Walter, with clothing designed and sewn by Barbara. Adorned in an ornately illustrated box, accompanied by a book and language record set, these sold in San Francisco, New York and London, at high end department and toy stores including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, I Magnin and FAO Schwartz, as seen in this 1951 edition of UK's House & Garden magazine.

In 1950 my mother Barbara became department head of dress design at UC Berkeley, while Walter painted full time. I observed my father's friendship with Berkeley painter Robert Watson to be a profound influence on both my own and Walter's evolving style, as he shifted his early focus from street scenes and nudes, to ominous ethereal imagery of exaggerated perspective.

After my parents filed for divorce in 1953, my father and I met Peggy (Margaret Doris Hawkins Ulbrich), during an exhibition of Walter's paintings.

At that time, Mrs Ulbrich, a former New York baby furniture factory worker, made her living painting names on neckties, in cooperation with her husband Frank, supplemented by quick realistic portrait sketches of passers by at street fairs. None of her work to date had "big eyes".

Soon, Mrs Ulbrich moved in with my father, and he took her on as his "Eliza Doolittle" and artistic apprentice.

Later, Mrs Ulbrich filed for a divorce from her husband Frank, and swiftly married my father in 1955. Her daughter Jane moved in, and she and Margaret learned to paint under my father's tutelage. I witnessed the evolution of their artistic process.

Walter encouraged Margaret to develop a style beyond realism, educating and immersing her in the works of old masters for inspiration. She was a slim brunette, wearing a blonde wig. Her initial art consisted of idealized self portraits of slender ladies exclusively featuring small almond shaped eyes, like her own.

My father would often impart to us, his vast knowledge of color, perspective, texture, artistic techniques, art history, etc, repeatedly impressing upon us, the vital impact of "the eyes". His guidance made a strong impression on me as my own work evolved.

My father was an avid photographer, using a cutting edge Hasselblad. A very large opaque projector was purchased for Margaret, set up in a dark room adjoined to the sunny painting studio. With this tool, a highly detailed image could be projected on canvas from a photograph. A skilled illustrator, Margaret was able to trace a portrait in 15 minutes. This projection method has frequently been utilised in art forgery, as it facilitates replication of fine brush strokes.

Though her initial paintings were primitive, Margaret demonstrated a remarkable aptitude for mimicry, and quickly learned to paint with exceptional precision.

While her execution was flawless, Margaret never showed any aptitude for originality, and her main body of work consisted of Modigliani pastiches blended with other borrowed influences, supplemented by a series of commissioned photorealistic portraits.

My father, beginning with his established bar scene series, occasionally engaged her new found skills to assist him on paintings entirely of his own concept, design and creative authorship. He openly publicised her contributions to his works, proudly promoting her name. Their artist/assistant relationship was never a secret during the years they worked together, their early collaborative works signed "Margaret and Walter KEANE" and MW KEANE, with independent works signed W KEANE and KEANE, M Keane and MDH Keane.

Margaret used very soft sable brushes, along with a sable fan brush to blend her colours. This results in a very thin layer of paint (no texture) which takes only few days to dry. From early on, it was disclosed to the press that Margaret added supplementary brush strokes to the figures of some of Walter's paintings.

Over time, she adopted his "big eye" motif, gradually incorporating it into her own Modigliani- style work.

As a professional fine oil painter, intimately familiar with the historic body of work for both artists, and a first hand witness to the creation and evolution of these works, I am uniquely qualified to offer an artistic analysis of the autonomous and collaborative elements of the works of Margaret McGuire and Walter Keane. I also had the opportunity to examine Walter's work in great detail while performing an archival restoration of "Alone" in the late 80s...

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