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Fur - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

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Jewish Giant at Home with his Parents
© The Estate of Diane Arbus


Director Steven Shainberg and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, the minds behind the controversial film "Secretary" have collaborated on a new intriguing film, "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus." This film is actually based on the book, "Diane Arbus: A Biography" written by the popular biographer Patricia Bosworth, who has also written biographies of such Hollywood greats as Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.

To understand the fascination with Diane Arbus, you must know a bit of her history. Diane Arbus was a photographer, but not just any photographer. She was a woman who was fascinated with the odd, the unusual, and the disturbing, and eventually this obsession with the bizarre was revealed in her photographs. It wasn't always the case, however. In the beginning of her career, Diane Arbus was a fashion photographer, often having her photos appear in popular magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Esquire. As she became more well known and more confident, the subjects in her photos began to change, and by the mid-60s, she was photographing those whom the world then isolated from society: dwarves, transvestites, the mentally ill, and people with unusual conditions, such as Eddie Carmel (pictured above), who at 8'9, was then considered the tallest man in the world. Her photos became more and more dramatic and unusual, and many magazines refused to print her work. Despite the world’s resistance to her ideas, her success was enormous and her very name controversial. Tragically Diane Arbus killed herself when she was only 48. To this day, there are still rumors that she photographed her own suicide, but it has been said that those photos never existed.

In this film, we see Diane at the point when she is discovering what she really wants to do with her life. As a typical wife and mother in the late 1950s, Diane (Nicole Kidman) is shy and demure, reluctantly living the life that her wealthy parents and loyal husband expect of her. Only when a new neighbor moves in does Diane begin to explore another side of herself - a side that her family won't want to see. This side of Diane is fascinated with what isn't perfect, what is in fact the exact opposite of the life she currently leads. As she gathers her courage to interact with her reclusive new neighbor (Robert Downey Jr.), she becomes torn between what is expected of her and what she yearns for. Her love for this man becomes a driving force behind her creativity and eventually forces her to choose between her safe marriage and an all-consuming passion.

This film opens nationwide on November 10th and is currently a limited release.

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