Amistad wasn’t the only film facing an injunction last week. Though it’s been around since Oct. 17, earning $57.3 million, a devil of a lawsuit has suddenly arisen around Warner Bros.’ The Devil’s Advocate, too. Here’s how the fight shakes out.
WHO Sculptor Frederick Hart and the Washington National Cathedral filed suit Dec. 4 against Warner over the Al Pacino-Keanu Reeves thriller.
WHY Hart says a bas-relief in the film bears a striking resemblance to his 1982 work Ex Nihilo, a part of the cathedral. In the film, the figures in the artwork come to life and engage in sexual acts. It’s a ”grotesque distortion…of a…religious sculpture,” says the suit.
HOW HE FOUND OUT More than a month after Advocate’s release, a friend asked Hart how a likeness of his work ended up in the film.
WHAT HE SAYS ”I was truly shocked and outraged,” declares the artist. ”The piece took five years of my life to create [and] was designed as a message of hope, redemption, and the great beauty and mystery of God’s creation.”
WHAT THEY SAY Warner declines comment, but Advocate’s production designer, Bruno Rubeo, insists his work was inspired by European classics. Hart ”didn’t invent bas-relief,” he says. ”The Egyptians were doing it 3,000 years ago.”
THE LAST WORD ”Put them side by side,” says Hart. ”I rest my case.”