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EXCERPTS & ESSAYS

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/16/2011

Mike Mills: Drawings from the Film Beginners

Mike Mills will sign copies of his new book, Drawings from the Film Beginners, Wednesday, May 25 at Opening Ceremony, New York. Following is Mills' introduction to the book, and a selection of drawings.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
I wrote and directed a film called Beginners, and in that film there is a character named Oliver Fields who is portrayed by the actor Ewan McGregor. This fictional character and I have some things in common: We both draw and do graphic design, we both have dogs, both of our fathers came out of the closet very late in life, and we both did record covers for a very real band called “The Sads”. How these similarities came about, and what they mean, I’m still trying to figure out - but once the idea of fictionalizing my own real work popped into my head, it seemed so wrong and curious I couldn’t say no.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: Neanderthal man develops language yet unable to express innermost thoughts. RIGHT: Neanderthal man realizes he’s outclassed by Homosapien man.

This book contains many of the drawings which I (Mike) drew, and that Oliver (played by Ewan) works with in the film: Oliver has the unfortunate idea of creating an illustrated “History of Sadness” as a record cover for the “The Sads”. It’s a multi-chapter attempt to portray, well yes, the history of all that makes us unhappy. This book also has many of the drawings I did to get to the drawings you see in the film. I worked on this project on and off over a few years, not sure where I was going or how one should draw such a history.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: The Industrial Revolution. RIGHT: Self-abandonment.

In the middle of this book there’s a chapter with some scenes from the year 1955. In a way, the seed of this whole story is the very “real” fact that my parents were married in April of 1955 even though my father was gay and my mother knew it. They were married for 44 years, until my mother passed away, and my father then came out to our family at the age of 75. The drawings here come from my curiosity about what our world was like in 1955. What was possible then? What was our emotional-cultural-sexual landscape like in that year which ended up being, in a way, the foundation of my family’s house.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
ABOVE: Invention of alcohol, ancient Egypt.

Lastly, there are new drawings completed for this book, an illustrated “History of Love” that deals with all the important things in life: Love, what little we know about our emotions, sexual freedom, historical consciousness, and Neanderthals.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: First couple to marry for the wrong reasons. RIGHT: First gay man to be diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrist.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: Early problems with group therapy, 1960’s. RIGHT: One’s alienation made common.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: McDonald’s opens it’s first franchise restaurant, April 1955. RIGHT: Harry Hay, longtime Communist activist and founder of the first gay rights group, The Mattachine Society, testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee which was investigating Communist groups in Southern California in July, 1955. After refusing to cooperate, stating “I’m not in the habit of confiding in stool pigeons or their buddies,” he was dismissed. Both images are from the Scenes From 1965 series.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: Real problems in a relationship. RIGHT: Imagined problems in a relationship. Both images are from The History of Love series.
Mike Mills Drawings from the Film Beginners
LEFT: Great lovers in film: Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds, The Breakfast Club, 1985. RIGHT: Great loves in television. Both images are from The History of Love series.

Mike Mills: Drawings from the Film Beginners

Mike Mills: Drawings from the Film Beginners

DAMIANI
Hbk, 6.5 x 9.5 in. / 128 pgs / illustrated throughout.