History of Sadness, History of Love: Exclusive Sketches from Beginners
Published May 20, 2011
Filmmaker Mike Mills graciously offered to exclusively share some of the sketches he created while working on his new film, Beginners, which comes out June 3. Below, he explains a bit about the film and the drawings.
In our film Beginners, Ewan McGregor plays a graphic designer, Oliver, who’s working on a CD cover for a band called The Sads. He’s ends up trying to draw “The History of Sadness,” which to me (and Oliver) seemed like a pretty funny record cover. And yes, I (Mike Mills) have done lots of record covers, and yes, I draw like this, and yes, there is a real band called The Sads, fronted by my old friend Aaron Rose. And yes, confusing all these things, and having Ewan do the drawings, and having some dopplegangers play The Sads felt—well, yes, so wonderfully wrong. Blurring the lines between what is real and what is fiction in a film that is in many ways exploring what is real—I just couldn’t pass it up.
I think the only reason this subplot and the drawings that Ewan (Oliver) and I did stay in the cut is because they became a way to understand what Oliver was feeling, a sort of magical back door into his mind where we could see how he was reacting to huge events in his life, even if he wasn’t always capable of saying it out loud to other humans.
I’m very lucky to get to make a book with all the drawings that made it into the film, as well as the many, many drawings I did to figure out how and what I was trying to do with this history of sadness. Once I knew I was getting to make this book, I did some new work about 1955 (the year my parents got married, even though they both knew my father was gay), and of course, the history of love. On May 25 at 6pm, I’ll be at Opening Ceremony at 35 Howard Street in New York signing copies of my new book, if anyone would like to say hello!