'Ides of March' pays homage to Shepard Fairey
"The Ides of March," the new film directed by George Clooney, takes place during the bitter cold of a presidential primary election in Ohio. The protagonist is Stephen Myers, a young, ambitious press officer played by Ryan Gosling, who is masterminding the campaign of the liberal Democratic candidate Mike Morris (Clooney). But a surprise revelation turns the race into an ethical obstacle course fraught with tough choices for the entire team.
As a director, Clooney has shown that he has a sharp eye for detail. In the new movie, the Morris ticket is represented by a "Believe" campaign poster that is likely to strike viewers as oddly familiar. The poster, seen in the photo above, bears a strong resemblance to the "Hope" poster of Barack Obama, created by artist Shepard Fairey during the 2008 presidential race.
Fairey didn't design the poster for the movie, according to the artist's spokesman. But the artist's signature aesthetic is unmistakably present throughout the movie, with the "Believe" poster highly visible at the Morris campaign headquarters and various political rallies.The similarity between the two posters is no doubt deliberate and gives the movie a sense of verisimilitude and immediacy. Obama shares some similarities to the Morris character, a left-wing politician whose platform includes pro-environment reform and a reduction in U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"Ides" is adapted from the play "Farragut North," by Beau Willimon. The play was produced at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York in 2008 and then at the Geffen Playhouse in L.A. in 2009. For the L.A. production, Chris Pine played the young press officer, while Chris Noth played his immediate supervisor. (The Morris character remained an off-stage presence in the play.)
Fairey was embroiled in an ethical controversy of his own when he admitted in 2009 to having knowingly submitted false images and deleted others during his legal battle with the Associated Press. The artist had been accused of copyright infringement for using one of the AP's photographs of Obama as an inspiration for the "Hope" poster.
The artist settled out of court with the news organization in 2011.
-- David Ng
Photo (top): A scene from "The Ides of March," with Ryan Gosling. Credit: Saeed Adyani / Columbia Pictures
Photo (bottom): Shepard Fairey in front of his "Hope" image. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times