January 8, 2012
Escapism, this is what cinema has always been about, taking a break out of “thinking” giving time for the brain to slow down, relax into the chair and be transported into a world that belongs to someone else. One that can leave us inspired, but nonetheless one that we don’t have to take responsibility for. That world can be anywhere, according to the individual tastes of the viewer, but it will weave a story as we sit and listen to the streams of dialogue flowing from the characters mouths. Words, both positive and negative, uplifting and depressing, loud, whispering, gentle or harsh, they are part of our everyday experience, without the spoken word it would be extremely difficult to function.
In film its different, it is for me anyway, It is what “I see” that uplifts me, the visual narrative that elevates me, wide breathtaking panoramas, to the tiniest costume or set detail, a riot of colour, all combined with the magic of music and I am transported to dizzy pulsating heights or plunged into the deep recesses of my soul. Who knows why this is my experience? Was it because my mother, an avid cinemagoer all her life, took me to see Walt Disney’s `’Fantasia” as a very small child, was it the memories of the beautiful spring sprite, butterflies woven into her long hair as she magically swoops and glides around the snowy forest bringing tress to life, birthing magnificent blossoms and the loving closeness she shared with the elk, all set to the sound of Stravinsky’s Firebird, or the dance of the inscrutable red capped mushroom, or the delightful images of the Pegasus’ family flying through the sky………… No words, just moving images, colour, expression and the emotive notes of the music, these images and the emotions evoked all those years ago have never left me
Perhaps this is why I am interior designer? I see with colour, hear with colour and texture, scale and proportion, this is my narrative and I design in my studio to music! The music lifts everything to another dimension, its as if the chords in the music, major or minor talks to something deep within me, instills within a far deeper movement, moving me to the extreme polarities of Joy and sadness.
Strange how the silent movie is making a presence again? Hugo and the The Artist recontextualised for this modern age, utilising new technology is the silent movie set to become a new genre for the 21st Century? Guess its not that strange really when you think about it. With the constant bombardment of noise in our lives, the ever increasing amount of sound bytes thrown at us from all directions and of course our growing addiction to obtaining knowledge through the internet, social media and the like, the ease of acquiring knowledge fills our heads with so much “stuff”, especially now that a lot of the words we hear and read are fear driven, there comes a point when something needs to change, we perhaps are drawn to something that touches us in a different way. All of this combined with the growing “separation” that is slowly creeping in, the disconnection from our inner world with the community seems to breeding a new generation that doesn’t really need to leave their homes or interact in any meaningful way, we can now work remotely, shop remotely, make friendships remotely and even have sex remotely………….. Its very heartening to read that the two “almost” silent movies have been runaway successes.
Viewing a movie without “spoken word” is going to enlist a lot more from the viewer, a closer connection to the film itself. Our intuitive processes will be ignited into action, and instead of the screenwriters words engaging our brains and thinking mind into his own personal views, the images and sound will be working on a deeper level, our hearts will be engaging, interpreting what we see and hear creating a completely different experience from the cinema we have grown accustomed to in this modern age. We can sit back and have a new experience, although for me this has always been my experience, pure visual excitement.
The following clip from Fantasia never ceases to move me, the music is Stravinsky’s Firebird. As I have reached more mature years I can see the symbology in this piece and now more than ever we need a “death” in the world to bring about change, our planet is suffering through our own hands, the firebird is here already………… however this is another story for another day. Please enjoy the clip, it is 9mins long but so beautiful in every way
August 15, 2010
Last week was full on busy, head full of rooms, plans, colours, I have this kind of virtual reality thing that goes into overdrive when I am creating. I have to vision very clearly and in minute detail, for me to be able to attract in what I need to complete each stage of the projects in hand. So posting here sadly, has been neglected
However enough of all that, just had to tell you about the start of my weekend, this is the second time I have tried to see this film and this time succeeded. Coco and Igor, some of write ups and have not been that wonderful, but I was enthralled, not only by the brooding emotions that pull you through the film, the interiors and the graceful image that Coco herself imparts, but IGOR STRAVINSKY and his music it made my hair stand on end……………. the delicate notes that start the Rites of Spring, oh how I would love to have been and the premier in 1913, the mayhem that ensued. Its so difficult to put this piece and the dancing into the context of that time, the savage freedom of movement I guess must have seemed so shocking then, but today sadly, so tame. His music lives on, as does Chanel, although I cannot help think that their “romance” was maybe not as momentous as the film would have us believe. Undeniably though, their passion poured through influencing their work and elevating it to a higher level. Coco , with her early childhood issues obviously had great difficulty in forming relationships and this was born out in both films, I think to her, Igore was one of many of her conquests of unobtainable men, and when she conquered them it became all to threatening and she withdrew into her world of fashion, a real ice queen, maintaining her independence and the need to be “Free” . She died having never having married, living in her ivory tower a very successful but lonely woman.
Stravinsky’s music is full on emotional roller coaster, his gift of imparting his passion into every note lives on, I have posted a trailer to the film, and also a piece from Disneys’ film Fantasia which is accompanied by a piece from Firebird, a ballet which sealed the union between Diaghlev and Stravinsky aged 28, premiered in Paris in 1910. Three years before The Rite of Spring.
April 10, 2010
What an extraordinary film, a true cinematic experience. Emma, played by Tilda Swintnn at first is as cool and austere as the home she lives in but then something happens, she falls in liove, and everything becomes alive, the photography is stunning, the soundtrack just beautiful.
A film not to be missed.
Mr Ford, double life? congenital control freak cutting loose, there’s a message here, a really positive one
December 22, 2009
Initially I couldn’t work out why I was drawn to this piece in the Independent. Guess the name Tom Ford, an extremely creative man, synonymous with great style and fashion, and the fact it was set in 1962……… Tom Ford, A teen actor, a fashion designer and now maybe an oscar for his film debut , The Single Man, originally a book by Christopher Isherwood. The stills are wonderfully stylish, set in the 60′s it has great attention to detail, even down to eye makeup but it had to be more than that.
This following words leapt of the page to me , Mr Ford is writing about himself, the creative psyche can be excruiatingly painful. ” Ford acknowledges that Falconer’s fastidiousness is his own, but below the surface, as I read it, the meticulous ritual of George’s life is also Ford’s acknowledgement of the supreme effort it has taken to keep order in his own life. He’s had his own battles with excess, occasionally waged in public, where the bad behaviour seems reasonably typical of the congenital control freak cutting loose. When order fails, that way lies madness, which Ford contemplates in the scenes when Falconer finally falls apart. “There’s a lot about me that people don’t know,” he has said. A Single Man hints at a double life”. Then researching interviews with Tom I came across the following, these say it all.
Hearing the word “isolation” and new then why I was drawn. Its not just another vehicle for him to excel but a vehicle to tell a very important story, one that in this time in history is extremely important for us all. In his words, a book written by the false self, from a great distance observing the true self. learning to live in the present and not the future”
We have lost the enjoyment in the small things of life, the golden sun glinting in the snow, the sunrise everyday, a walk by the sea, instead we make make huge complex plans for future times, living in the future, then one day looking back and realising “what happened, where did all that time go? Losing our connection to the planet, to each other has lead to generations of isolated people, this sounds like a film with a real spiritual message we can all learn from.
November 3, 2009
Live Dulcima peformance combined with a whimsical and beautiful 1926 Animation, a wonderful evening spent at the De la Warr Pavillion last Frida. . The Adventures of Prince Achmed was the first feature length animation film in the history of the cinema. It is a ‘silhouette film’. Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) was the inventor of this genre. Work on The Adventures of Prince Achmed began in 1923. It was released in 1926. This wonderful animation film is full of adventure, lyrical sensuality, magic and romance, playful humour, strong female characters, exciting bat- tles and sinister evil. The story was inspired by elements taken from the Tale of the 1001 Arabian Nights. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is one of those rare and timeless films that appeal across the complete age range. The beauty and intricate detail of Reiniger’s exquisite filigree artwork is of the highest quality. She was inspired by Chinese and Indonesian shadow plays and adapted this ancient art for the cinema. The distinctive combination of silhouette characters, colour tinted landscapes and backgrounds is unique and profoundly evocative and seductive. Moreover, the use of silhouette characters leaves the imagination free to soar in response to the sensuality and magic of the story. We are treated to a splendid cast: Prince Achmed, Princess Peri Banu, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, the Evil Sorcerer, The Magic Horse, Aladdin,xPrincess Dinarzade and The Caliph. The fact that all the characters are silhouettes is fundamental to the essence and power of the film. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a captivat ing and beautiful work of art. It is a magnificent example of stop frame animation and consists of three hundred thousand separate frames. It is undoubtedly one of the shining gems in the history of cinema and is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece. It is the ‘haute couture’ of animation. Lotte Reiniger was a pioneer who dedicated her life to creating silhouettes. She made more than eighty animation films. The original prints of The Adventures of Prince Achmed featured colour-tinted backgrounds. Working from surviving nitrate prints, German and British archivists restored the film and managed to incorporate the original tinted backgrounds, which in their dynamic interaction with the silhouette characters are crucial to the aesthetic of the film. Prints available just prior to the restoration had only been in black and white. Geoff Smith’s new score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed has been inspired and led by Lotte Reiniger’s genius. He has attempted to do justice to her achievement. For the performance of the soundtrack Geoff uses numerous prototype Hammered dulcimers, one being the first ‘Fluid dulcimer’ incorporating his revolutionary ‘microtonal fluid tuning mechanism’ patent, without which it would have been impossible to compose and perform the soundtrack. For further information regarding this invention and some of its historic implications please refer to the Guardian newspa- per article ‘Composer reinvents the piano’.
Geoff Smith’s pioneering score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a revelation in the composition and performance of live music for animation. He has dedicated himself to exploring the wider spectrum of musical choices that his invention offers, so that in the composition of the score it has been possible to respond in more intimate, expressive and expanded detail to this unique and uplifting film. His immensely dynamic score illuminates and emphasises Lotte Reiniger’s aesthetic obsession, consummate artistry and passionate commitment to story telling.
June 6, 2009
I just heard today of the death of David Carradine. My thoughts took me back to the 70′s and the brilliant TV series Kung Fu, I was young, not long married and my daughter had just had her first birthday. So long ago…………..
A decade later, I had the opportunity of dancing with him, it was Boxing Day, we had gone to the Ritz with friends for a 30′s dinner dance. Remember him being very charismatic, very charming and a wonderful dancer.
This is how I shall remember him.
January 16, 2009
Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian word that roughly translates into a “world out of balance”. The following is a trailer to the film shot over a six year period and set to the extraordinary haunting music of Philip Glass.
You can purchase the full length version from I tunes.