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Pollock (film)

Directed by Ed Harris
Produced by Peter M. Brant
Screenplay by Barbara Turner
Susan Emshwiller
Based on Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh
Gregory White Smith
Starring Ed Harris
Marcia Gay Harden
Music by Jeff Beal
Cinematography Lisa Rinzler
Edited by Kathryn Himoff
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • September 6, 2000 (2000-09-06)
Running time
122 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $10,558,970[1]

Pollock is a 2000 biographical film which tells the life story of American painter Jackson Pollock. It stars Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Connelly, Robert Knott, Bud Cort, Molly Regan and Sada Thompson, and was directed by Harris.

Ed Harris received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of Pollock. Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife. The film was a long-term personal project for Harris based on his previous reading of Pollock's biography.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
    • Critical response 4.1
    • Box office 4.2
    • Accolades 4.3
  • Soundtrack 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The film begins showing the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) autographing illustrations in a copy of Life magazine for a woman at an art exhibit in 1950.

The film flashes back to nine years earlier (1941). At this time Pollock is usually drunk and makes a living by exhibiting a painting in occasional group art shows. He is living with his brother Charles Pollock, whom he calls Sande, in a tiny apartment in New York City. Sande's wife tells him that they are having a baby, perhaps indicating to Jackson that he needs to move out. Artist Lee Krasner shows up and takes an interest in him. Later, at dinner he learns that his brother is moving to Connecticut, as he's taken a job building army gliders to avoid a rumoured draft of married men not involved in war production. Sande's wife reveals that Jackson's Selective Service status is 4F. This means that Jackson cannot be drafted. Unable to handle conflicting feelings, Jackson has a convulsion and needs to be cared for. Lee learns from Sande that Jackson is diagnosed as clinically neurotic. However, Lee takes him home and decides to be his manager.

One day, his old friend Ruben comes along with Howard Putzel who works for an art collector Peggy Guggenheim. Jackson seems more interested to meet Reuben than Howard. Peggy Guggenheim comes to see his art. She is initially very frustrated for having to wait, but gives him a contract to sell $2400 of paintings plus a commission to paint a mural of 8 ft by 20 ft on the entrance hall of her town house in New York City. His first exhibit fails to attract any buyers. After a New Year's Eve party, he almost gets in bed with Peggy but is too drunk to properly perform. Jackson returns to Lee in the morning. He is upset again when he learns of the death of Howard, falling back to the street in a drunken stupor and again returning to Lee. Lee, as always, takes him back. Lee then asks Jackson to make a decision: whether to marry her and continue painting art or "split up". Jackson surprisingly insists on a church wedding and Lee says she wants no guests. They decide to move to a country house by the ocean in Springs, NY, on Long Island. Jackson and Lee adopt an abandoned dog whom they name Gyp. Jackson is disheartened when Lee makes clear to Jackson that she does not want to have a baby, partly because she is happy to just live as two painters, partly because of his neurosis, and partly because of the pecuniary situation and his painting needs. At a get-together at Peggy Guggenheim's, despite art critic Clement Greenberg's comments, he shows that it's hard for him to change his finished painting to others' liking. Jackson's pictures still aren't selling. At a poker party, while they talk about the situation, Clement mentions that things will change after Life Magazine's coverage and subsequent art exhibit. Lee gets jealous when Jackson hugs another woman. Meanwhile, Jackson tries doing other business for a living but his drinking gets in the way. He lies to Sande and family about the financial status and waits to see what will happen after Life Magazine's coverage. This time he tries to abstain from alcohol. Things get better after the magazine story. Later, A photographer, Hans Namuth, tries to make a film of Jackson as he paints. Hans' movie-making interrupts the nature of Jackson's work and Jackson feels like a phony acting it out. Jackson loses patience and, much to Lee's disapproval, he takes to drinking again. The alcohol triggers his neurotic illness and he ruins Thanksgiving dinner in a drunken rage. The film returns to the present in the art exhibit in 1950.

Five years later Clement mentions that the Partisan Review is favoring Clyfford Still, and that his original technique of modern art could be the next direction of modern art. Jackson does not take it well. Lee accuses a drunk Jackson that it's because he's (again) taken to drinking. Jackson argues it's all because she won't have a child. Lee knows he's having an affair with Ruth Kligman. Lee says she won't give Jackson a divorce — no matter what. When Lee goes to Venice to visit Peggy Guggenheim, Jackson receives a call from her. After this call Jackson mentions to Ruth, "I owe the woman something". Ruth brings a friend, Edith Metzger, to visit Jackson. They go for a drive, but Jackson is quite drunk. There is a fatal car accident in which Jackson and Edith die; Ruth survives. The film ends with a mention that Lee survives another 28 years, continuing her painting career in Jackson's studio.



The film was adapted by Barbara Turner and Susan Emshwiller from the book Jackson Pollock: An American Saga by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. It was directed by Harris.

This film was a long term dream of Ed Harris.[2] After his father gave him a copy of Pollock's biography, he started thinking about the project, which took almost 10 years to bring to fruition.

Filming took a mere 50 days with a six-week layoff after forty days so Harris could take time to gain thirty pounds and grow a beard.[3]

Harris himself did all the painting seen in the film.[3]


Critical response

Pollock received positive reviews from critics and has a "certified fresh" score of 81% on Rotten tomatoes based on 107 reviews with an average rating of 7 out of 10. The critical consensus states "Though Pollock does not really allow audiences a glimpse of the painter as a person, it does powerfully depict the creative process. Harris throws himself into the role and turns in a compelling performance."[4] The film also has a score of 77 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 31 critics indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

Box office

Pollock opened on December 15, 2000 in North America in a Limited release in 2 theaters and grossed $44,244 with an average of $22,122 per theater and ranking #37 at the box office. The film's widest release was 280 theaters and it ended up earning $8,598,593 domestically and $1,960,377 internationally for a total of $10,558,970.[1]


Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife.[6] Ed Harris was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.[6]

Harden was also nominated at the Independent Spirit Awards and won at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.[6]


The soundtrack to Pollock was released on February 13, 2001.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Alone in a Crowd"   Jeff Beal 2:14
2. "Beauty from Pain"   Jeff Beal 1:55
3. "One Man Show"   Jeff Beal 2:02
4. "The Window"   Jeff Beal 1:37
5. "Stroke of Genius"   Jeff Beal 3:57
6. "Plant Your Garden"   Jeff Beal 2:12
7. "Stroke by Stroke"   Jeff Beal 2:45
8. "Breaking the Rules"   Jeff Beal 2:27
9. "Art of This Century"   Jeff Beal 1:04
10. "The Look"   Jeff Beal 2:45
11. "A Life's Work"   Jeff Beal 1:27
12. "Empty"   Jeff Beal 2:42
13. "A Letter from Lee"   Jeff Beal 1:52
14. "The World Keeps Turning"   Jeff Beal / Kathleen Brennan / Tom Waits 4:14
15. "Unfinished"   Jeff Beal 4:08
16. "The Mural Goes on and On"   Jeff Beal 2:41
17. "She Played the Banjo"   Jeff Beal 4:31
Total length:


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Sony Pictures production notes.
  3. ^ a b Interview with Ed Harris at DVDtalk
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c IMDB awards
  7. ^ Pollock Soundtrack TheOST. Retrieved February 1, 2014

External links

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