I Shot Andy Warhol

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I Shot Andy Warhol
Shotandywarhol.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mary Harron
Produced by Tom Kalin
Christine Vachon
Written by Mary Harron
Daniel Minahan
Based on The Letters and Diaries of Candy Darling, 1992 
by Jeremiah Newton
Starring Lili Taylor
Jared Harris
Stephen Dorff
Martha Plimpton
Music by John Cale
Cinematography Ellen Kuras
Edited by Keith Reamer
Production
company
BBC Arena
Playhouse International Pictures
Killer Films
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company (Original)
Orion Pictures
MGM (DVD)
Release dates
  • May 1, 1996 (1996-05-01)
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $1,875,527[1]

I Shot Andy Warhol is a 1996 independent film about the life of Valerie Solanas and her relationship with Andy Warhol. The movie marked the debut of Canadian director Mary Harron. The film stars Lili Taylor as Valerie, Jared Harris as Andy Warhol and Martha Plimpton as Valerie's friend Stevie. Stephen Dorff plays Warhol superstar Candy Darling. John Cale of the Velvet Underground wrote the film's score despite protests from former band member Lou Reed. Yo La Tengo plays an anonymous band that is somewhat reminiscent of the group.

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Plot[edit]

The film opens with a flashforward to moments after the shooting. This is quickly followed by a scene with Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor) in custody for the shooting of Andy Warhol (Jared Harris). The film then takes us back to a time when Valerie is living in New York making a living as a sex worker. A series of further flashbacks point to her difficult childhood, and success in studying psychology at college. Here, Valerie discovers that she is a lesbian, that she can write, and that she has a distinctive view of the world. This leads her to New York City and its downtown underworld. Through her friend Stevie (Martha Plimpton), she meets Candy Darling (Stephen Dorff), who in turn introduces her to Andy Warhol.

Meanwhile, Valerie also meets Maurice Girodias (Lothaire Bluteau), the publisher of Olympia Press. While Valerie wants Warhol to produce her play, Up Your Ass, Girodias wants her to write a pornographic novel for him. Once she signs a contract with Girodias, she comes to suspect his offer is not a generous one and may not be in her interest. She comes to regret signing this contract. At this point, her increasing derangement leads her to believe that Warhol and Girodias are controlling her. The film concludes, where it began, with Solanas' attempted murder of Warhol. The film then steps ten years into the future, where Warhol lives in fear the rest of his life that Valerie will strike again while he continues his life up until his death, and in death Valerie's "pornographic" novel was the S.C.U.M. manifesto, which is now regarded as a feminist classic.

Cast[edit]

Background[edit]

Initially intended as a BBC documentary, the film was directed by Mary Harron who also co-wrote the screenplay with Daniel Minahan.[3]

Dr. Dana Heller, professor of English at the Old Dominion University, argues that the film stages the conflict between Solanas and Warhol as less the result of gender politics – particularly because Solanas intended no connection between her writing and the shooting – than of the decline of print culture as represented by Solanas and the rise of new non-writing media as embodied by Warhol and the Pop art movement.[4] In the screenplay, Harron and Minahan describe Solanas as "banging at an ancient typewriter" and the film frequently shows her typing, for which she is mocked by Warhol and other Factory regulars. Solanas' writing is set against the new technologies of reproduction championed by Warhol.[5]

Many people who knew Solanas and Warhol tried to rationalize the shooting. Stephen Koch, who in 1973 wrote a study of Warhol's film, stated: "Valerie lives in terror of dependence: That is what the SCUM Manifesto is about, an absolute terror before the experience of need. Like Warhol, Solanas is obsessed with an image of autonomy, except that... she has played the obsession desperately, rather than with Warhol's famous cool."[6]

Reception[edit]

Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 77% of critics gave the film positive reviews.[7] On Metacritic it has a weighted score of 75/100, based on 20 critics, which it ranks as "Generally favorable reviews".[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Wins
Nominations

Home media[edit]

I Shot Andy Warhol was released on Region 1 DVD on January 23, 2001.

Soundtrack[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ I Shot Andy Warhol at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: I Shot Andy Warhol". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  3. ^ Heller 2008, p. 151.
  4. ^ Heller 2008, pp. 152–157.
  5. ^ Heller 2008, pp. 155–156.
  6. ^ Harron, I Shot Andy Warhol,Grove Press NY, 1995
  7. ^ "I Shot Andy Warhol" at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ "I Shot Andy Warhol" at Metacritic
Bibliography
  • Heller, Dana (2008). "Shooting Solanas: Radical Feminist History and the Technology of Failure". In Hesford, Victoria; Diedrich, Lisa. Feminist Time Against Nation Time: Gender, Politics, and the Nation-State in an Age of Permanent War. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-1123-9. 

External links[edit]