After a run of documentaries, Italian director Pietro Marcello returns to fiction with Scarlet, a genre-bending meditation on World War I. The film follows in the footsteps of his most recent exercise in fiction, the epic Martin Eden, and blends his early experimental documentary style with a growing fascination with fantasy. Collected here by Marcello for this gallery are a series of paintings and photographs that inspired Scarlet. The sundry of creative delights offer a glimpse into his new fairytale, which is now playing in theaters.

Two lovers meet in the countryside, like Juliette and Jean.

Les Amoureux by Émile Friant (1888, France Musée des beaux-arts de Nancy)

The casting call to find Juliette described “a young woman (17-25 years old), graceful but also wild, who can sing and play an instrument. She grew up in the countryside, by the sea, in the middle of nature. She is dreamy and joyful, as benevolent and innocent as she is strong and determined, with a certain nobility in her soul.”

Woodland Solitude by Charles Courtney Curran (1913, United States Bringham Young University Museum of Art)

The central pillar of the film is the relationship between a father and his daughter as they grow together over the course of twenty years. The father is a widower and raises his child alone, but with the help of the small farm community they live with. Their relationship is one of respect, support, learning, and unconditional love.

Marin et Enfant by Virginie Demont-Breton (1930, France)

The film is a fable with a nonetheless realistic backdrop of the Great War. Here, the soldier returns to a vacant city with his essential belongings, as the protagonist at the beginning of the film.

A Soldier in Reims with his bicycle by Paul Castelnau (1917, France)

In this picture, the scarlet sails of the original story are combined with the search for technological feats and greater heights. This turn of the century machine inspired Jean’s flight at the end of the film, modernizing the original sailboat.


Artisanry and woodworking are important for the character of the father, who is a sort of Geppetto. Raphaël Thiéry, the actor, had astonishingly real hands and had even previously worked as a woodcutter.

Il Ciabattino by Pasquale Celommi (1895, Italy)

In the film, there are many local people in the secondary roles, an important element to portraying a real community.

Resigned to their Lot by Henri Jules Jean Geoffroy (1901, Paris Musée d’Orsay)

The marshland of the Picardy region in the North of France, similar to the Campania region in Italy.

The Hay Wain by John Costable (1821, London National Gallery)

Inspiration for children’s school in the small village, particularly for the textures and colors of the place.

The Bargemen by Alfonse Van Besten (1910, Belgium)

We searched all over Normandy and Picardy to find the perfect farmhouse decor. Something that was pure and untouched by time, with a certain simplicity of a forgotten era. The fireplace is a central part of the main room, which served as both the bedroom and the kitchen, especially essential during the cold winter months.