Peering through the Windows

“The eyes are the windows to the soul.”

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes focuses on the deception and fraud built upon a marriage between Margaret and Walter Keane. Eyes are a huge focus in this movie, as Burton explores a ten-year hoax in which Walter Keane took full credit for his wife’s paintings, which depict children with very large, deep eyes.

Margaret is the first to state that “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, only to have her husband state the exact same thing during an interview where he attempts to explain his supposed “inspiration” for these paintings. However, this quote has much more meaning coming from the mouth of Margaret as opposed to Walter.

Similarly, the quote itself can represent the difference between Margaret and Walter, along with their intentions. Describing the eyes as a metaphor of the soul, it can be seen in the paintings the intense emotion and passion inside Margaret’s soul through each one of her Big Eyes portraits. In comparison, every supposed painting composed by Walter is simply a stolen work from another artist. This quote means nothing coming from him, just as if you were to peer into his eyes it would most likely be blank and emotionless, feeding off of the intense passion of others.

Although this quote is short, it is certainly effective. It sets the tone for the whole movie, as we, as the readers, must be able to peer through the windows, or eyes, of the characters in order to see their real intentions. Burton does an excellent job at executing the importance of the symbolism of eyes in this great representation of the Big Eyes hoax.

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2 Responses to Peering through the Windows

  1. Rachel Marie Slaugenhaupt says:

    “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”

    In this quote, the soul is essentially the object while the eyes can be seen (ha ha) as more of a “medium” to this object. It doesn’t directly give the eyes an action, yet in a way, by calling the eyes windows it allows them to be used as something out of the norm. In this sense, the eyes can be used to peer into the soul.
    With context this could be more closely analyzed, yet without context it is also interesting to think about the questions that this quote can bring about. What eyes are we looking at? Are we attempting to use them as a medium to look into someone’s soul? What are all of these different parts (the eyes, the window, the soul) working together to form?

  2. Lindsey Grubbs says:

    Really nice reading, Rachel! It’s fascinating that this line is said by two people, but means something different to each. It would be interesting to see how this idea pans out visually in the movies. Do we get a lot of shots focused on Margaret and Walter’s eyes, for instance? Does the director show us this difference visually?

    I also like the questions you come to in your more grammatical reading. The lack of an action verb or of more specific qualifiers than “the” makes this an interestingly ambiguous statement–especially since so much of the movie hinges on that. I’m curious how this ambiguity plays out in the rest of the movie.

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