From the first trailer for Pearl, which was fast tracked onto Ti West's stylish A24 horror film X, it was evident that the film was a satire of a wide spectrum of Hollywood history. From the 1930s classics The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind through 1950s melodramas, Tyler Bates and Tim Williams swooned with humor, the retro title treatments, and even the emphatic, exaggerated performances all conjure up images of canonized films
West told Polygon that there was another, less immediately obvious, element to Pearls' visual style and narrative tone, which were also discussed in an interview before the release of Pearls.
Pearl has a certain naivete that makes it comparable to a Disney film, except that it is much darker and more demented, according to West. It became an interesting jumping off point.
The three films in the Xtrilogy X, the prequel Pearl, and the newly announced sequel MaXXine, are pastiches of Hollywood classics. X is set in the 1970s and evokes visually and narratively The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its followers. MaXXine, West, will be set in the 1980s and inspired by the 1980s VHS boom, as the grainy look and tracking lines suggest.
Pearl is intended to evoke Disney's early era and the age of classical musicals, although it isnt a musical itself, although West claims that he and his colleagues did not look to any one particular movie or era for visual inspiration, as they did with X.
According to him, it's a bit more general. I'd have considered some films with Eliot Rockett, the DP, or Tom [Hammock, the production designer, that were more technical. Like we could have viewed the 1948 British ballet drama The Red Shoes as a film [to copy].
The whole trilogy, according to West, is conceived around highlighting the art of filmmaking, which has an influence on both the narratives in which the protagonists of these films are obsessed with becoming movie stars and the way West frames, designs, and shoots the film.
Pearl has nothing to do with X, but it is more about wonder and hope and ambition. It had to be different from X, since it was shot 60 years ago.
West claims that the Disney styles in the film aren't intended to reflect Pearls mental state as much as her fantasies about the life she hopes to live provide hope that leads her to the same brutal brutal acts of murder and mayhem as in X.
It's a bit ironic, because of the contrast between this wondrous-looking world and the miserable life she's living. It's all about ensuring we have enough primary colors. It's as rich as I've ever done an aesthetic. It's a joy to do it.
Pearl will launch in theaters on September 16th.