Monthly Archives: August 2012

The nature of things, as best as i can find.

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I’m still getting peopled puzzled by my obsession with Superman. Well, since my previous post of ‘Why the needs a Superman’* merely scratched the surface of moral betterment and aspiration, I’m going to go into where it has led me since being at university and being amongst inquisitive minds and try and explain the depths of it all a little better.

Now some people will find the following text a much too scary a train of thought and may feel that it threatens the belief system they take comfort from too much to continue reading, in which case, that’s fine. Some won’t have the same ability to hear out a differing opinion without feeling that it is going to in some way threaten the way they think. There is no offense taken, as i don’t claim it as fact or a final truth. This is offered merely as one mans interpretation of his experience and does not offer answers but merely leads you to, possibly, more questions. But know that whoever you are, I  love and respect your beliefs and maybe you could offer something to my understanding if you feel i have missed any key elements in my thinking.

Superman is as good a messiah story as any other created by men. It gives us a moral code of conduct and an ideal way of being and something to aspire to. The God phenomena can now, for the first time in history, be proven by science in the form of the ‘Higgs Boson’. He’s not a white guy with a beard like he’s been depicted in so many art pieces. Those are created for a simple mind that need something to look the same as them in order to accept it. We use imagery of crosses and rivers of fire to strike fear into the hearts of the weak, and any governing body that rules by fear or a 2000+ year old guilt trip, is just not one for me. It’s for those, who without being good or bad, don’t ask the questions because they are scared that the answer will beyond their comprehension. It’s only bad when the people in these governing body’s abuse the power they have over these fearful people and use faith as an excuse to commit vile crimes in the name of their idol. In Islam, I’m sure there is a reason you can’t depict Mohammed. We humans can’t comprehend visually what a god would look like because it exists on more levels than our 5 senses can interpret or explain and any attempt would not do it justice. All earthly religions understand the basis and feel of god and it’s only the truly naive that feel they are right about it or claim to have any sort of complete understanding. They then use their conclusions to right rule books and govern mankind. I understand how easily influenced the weak minded masses are, how fear of the unknown will take us many places in order to find comfort. It’s on those who do have influence to demonstrate a comfortable and tolerant way of life whilst we, as the human race, move forward and seek answer to the only question that really matters to the human, not individual, experience, which is a journey not an outcome, the whole point of it.. Why? The answer may not become clear until it is done, but sometimes you just have to respect what people on their journey believe, so long as it doesn’t cause anyone any harm, as they have got some half answers to the things that have been important to their subjective experience. Maybe, being a mind with it’s own perfectly valid experience, you could offer the other half to their answer. But never be offended if it doesn’t fit with that persons experience. and maybe consider the way you deliver it. But never claim to be right as you won’t know for sure until you’re dead.

After presenting this side of an argument to a follower of a christian faith the answer i got was “except for superman didn’t right comic books, but the bible was written by god!”

So as with everything to the inquisitive mind, it led me to more questions of this person who would have sufficient knowledge to make such a definite statement.

So when god wrote this book, in it’s complete and current, leather bound and gold leaf edged, modern English, form, he did this as a human? And in this unchangeable finite form he would pass as a lookalike for anyone one of us, no matter what race we are? Or are we talking about a floating pen? I deliver this proposition with a purposefully naive tone. You can’t claim one thing as fact and ignore other thinking as it suits if other information is available for your consideration.

So i respectfully quizzed further, this guy who KNEW what was fact. So the good book wasn’t at all written by humans? At any stage? The message couldn’t have at all been contaminated in any way? The books that made it in to this anthology were not decided upon by a group of people at the council of Nicea?

The inspiration for Superman as a character was from the same place as the Christian or any other God. The thoughts of man. Jesus himself, in Mark, said he was the son of man when asked by Pilot. He also said not to build temple in his name… The Vatican City, though beautiful and holding many clues as to the true nature of a God for those wise enough to look, with messages and teachings that transcend the fickle nature of fashion following humans, who by nature will change rules if the congregation feel strongly enough about it, is nothing more than a city sized church.

The Catholic church: ‘Roman’ Catholic… the Protestant Church: Church of ‘England’… they have a human politics in the name. Spirituality and the human soul is older than all of these teachings, which are only corrupted by man. The true word of God you hear inside… not in a man written book. The word of God will have changed with each translation of the text, and the relevant replacement words will have been decided at whatever time the new translation will have been written. So it is not the same book as it was.when it was first written, some 200+ years after the death of the Christian messiah. Ask Jesus, if he’s your Christ figure in the manner in which ‘his’ church actually teaches if you don’t want to be a sinner. Not amongst a congregation of people but instead inside yourself. But If old story books are your thing, go to the book believed to be the closest to that of the word of him, the only one thought to have been written at the time he was alive, the one not deemed relevant enough to be included in the ‘Good book’. The one the humans at the council decided wasn’t divine enough. Go to the Vatican and ask to see the book of Thomas, learn Aramaic and get involved. Read the opening lines and then you’ll stop reading. Or if you fancy some older readings, the ones that came before Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism, try the emerald tablets of Thoth and Hermes. Either way, the ‘new thinking’ of the religions that followed, would they not have been rejected as blasphemy when they first came along? Science, the biggest threat to these thinking’s, is that not, eventually, at some point going to be rejected too? Mathematics leaves science to dead ends all the time. But at least science is on the right path by encouraging new lines of questioning without fear of reprimand for simply asking. That said, the chemists running tests on our reaction to hallucinogens, something that as a prospect personally scares even I, who I consider to be an open minded thinker, do run into some staunch questioning as to the benefits of them to the human experience. We have to try drop fear of the unknown and combine all of our learning. A carpenter can build a house, so can a stone mason, but combine the two by working together and you’ll get a much more satisfactory home.

It is your right to question, learn and grow, else why is there a human experience to be had? If someone asks you to believe without questioning, if i were you, that would be the first alarm. If not, I could claim that I AM THE NEW MESSIAH, god told my grandad i would be, but he’s dead now, so you’ll just have to believe me. No questions please. Oh and by the way, i have a book of stories that prove it.

You could argue that the books we’re channeled through humans in divine conversations, and i could say the same about Jerry and Joe when they first created Superman. But they weren’t going to claim that as they were not looking for power or a following, just the ability to give the people of the depression in America a new character, and maybe make a buck along the way. That was honesty on their part. They could have easily claimed it as fact of some long past history and by now there would be people desperate enough for hope that they would cling to it as a religion. Tolkien could have done the same, and right now we’d all be living in the church of Aragorn.

The way i see it, inspiration for creation is near godly… but that is all. but using it to govern others is the work of the the Devils of religion.

I’m not arrogant enough to claim i have any answers, but I’m wise enough to understand that I know nothing which is why i ask questions of tolerant people and look for the logic in what they say and in the answers offered to me by the world around me.

I’m not an Atheist. I understand that there is something more than the limits of the human experience and what our senses present and our brain interprets. We cant see the infer red but we use it to change the channel on our T.V. sets. But religion, that’s man made. Religion and believing in a grand architect are two very different things. But it is not a person any more than it is a dog or an atom….or a fragment of space dust or a magnetic force.. it’s all these things.

My understanding, for what it’s worth, I have explained in the best analogy i could think of. When you get into a car to drive it, you are driving, you are not the car. When you get out of the car and leave it to rust, do you rust along with it? You weren’t driving before you got in and when you turned the key, the experience started, but you existed before you got in, but the experience of driving didn’t. You can do all sorts of things whilst doing it, you are not just limited to driving, but the experience of the car is. The car can not see the driver, it can’t fly, that’s the job of planes. It can only do what it’s limitations of form allow. Will it ever fly? No, not unless there are created sufficient car mods. But will there be a car that fly’s one day? depends if the experiences and desire of the driver allow them to create such a thing… either way, you’ll exist after you get out of the car and you are what is required in order for a plane to fly as well. You never were the car, but you had the experience of moving on 4 wheels. Just because it had to end, was it not worth having? Will you drive again? Yes, if you need to. Why? Because you can. Will you feel bad for the car that rusted away? No, You may remember it if the experience was awesome and look back on it fondly, but, like the T-Rex, if it’s gone it’s gone. Will you not have other experiences that are nothing to do with driving? Absolutely, you’ll live all sorts from breathing, eating, falling in love, being a mechanic, being an artist etc whatever you like. All helping you learn and grow. Any of the experiences may help you drive better, if it’s something you desire to do again, but driving is no more ‘important’ than flying so it’s completely optional. The driving of that car was something that added to the experience, but it certainly didn’t define it. So don’t get to hung up on it ending. But if the question of ‘what comes after the drive is over?’ is something that inspires you to see that there is more to be had, then enjoy finding the answers. But one car can’t have any power over another by claiming that it knows what will definitely happen once it’s been put in the crusher, as it doesn’t know, it can only guess. It doesn’t and cant comprehend or communicate with the human experience in order to understand. It can be more intuitive and computerized as we engineer them. But they’ll never be the driver, so they have no authority over any other car.

Could we not all have a consciousness with no central or smallest point, but still splits into separate parts with limitations of senses put on them in order to actually have an individual 4 dimensional experience for some hyper-entity?

File:Mandelbrot sequence new.gif

-The Mandelbrot Set-The Mandelbrot set is a mathematical set of points whose boundary is a distinctive and easily recognizable two-dimensional fractal shape. A good visual representation of infinity.

Like a being that drives us as a car. Can we truly claim that we are in tune completely with this being? Is this hyper-entity not the equivalent to a multi core processor (like a quad core processor that can handle 4 pieces of information at the same time) but instead, deals with billions of experiences and understand them all perfectly, simultaneously, albeit that of a dog across to that of a flower-brick-human or whatever random form it’s subatomic parts are made into? Who knows? Not me. but I wont be told to stop searching for answers to the questions that are important to me. That of one day maybe understanding better the nature of the driver, but also how to make the best of the present experience with our current limitations. I don’t want the driver to stop this drive any time soon through boredom of feeling it’s had everything out of this trip that it’s going to get. I know i may have a few blow outs at some points along the way that i deem horrendously painful, but how do i know that the driver isn’t enjoying feeling like an action hero whilst it struggles to keep me on the road. Who knows. One day I may meet someone who has been obsessed enough with flight to ask the questions of engineering that has led them on the path to give this car wings.

The Superman obsession may have started as a need to find a moral anchor and something to aspire to, which in itself, would seem to be a purely human desire, but the path that was followed after this is what has been the most important to me and why i still hold it dear.

http://jamesdohertydmublog.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/why-the-world-needs-a-superman-by-james-doherty/

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Film analysis: Submarine

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In this text I am going to analyse, in depth, film techniques used to create meanings and establish themes in the first five minutes of the film ‘Submarine’ by director Richard Ayoade.

 

From the offset the cinematography has a slow to medium paced left to right camera movement, displaying the inside of our protagonist’s bedroom. It appears dimly lit and would seem to be shot on location rather than in a studio, instantly adding to the feeling of reality or believability or in short: verisimilitude.We have no person in shot but what we do have is the sound of wind coming from outside. The lighting in the room, although dim brings a feeling of warmth with it’s yellow hues, indicating it’s a secure place for whoever resides there, juxtaposed against the cold blue light being offered by the window that appears in the top right of the shot as we pan around. Looking at the manor in which the bedroom is presented, it isn’t the most stylish of locations, and it has many indications of varying interests. With an unmade single bed, it isn’t a bachelor pad that preempts or expects female company. The outside world is higher in frame instilling a feeling that it is big and scary and looms over this otherwise safe haven with only a small window to the separated reality. The motion and progression of the shot is repeatedly interrupted by bold, high impact, still splash credits of white text on a bold blue background. The overall feeling of the opening shot is of wanting to get to it, but being constantly interrupted on the journey serves as a constant reminder that this is merely a story.

 

We then hear the sound of seagulls along with the sound of the wind and sea giving an indication of the area that this fortress of solitude is located, while on screen we stay inside the bedroom with it’s warm lighting and get a visual representation of the sound we are hearing with a model of a seagull hanging from the ceiling which is painted with clouds against a blue sky. This throws in to question what it is that you are hearing. Is it the sound of a flesh and bone seagull or is it coming from this fake artificial representation of one we see in the room? This would indicate that maybe the artificially imagined and created is just as real in this story as the world outside and maybe, to our protagonist, the line between the two is somewhat blurred.

 

We continue our pan and we see many pictures attached to the bedroom wall. A montage of imagery. Little snapshots of life and times deemed interesting enough to validate capturing in a photograph. Almost a permanent exposition reference for our protagonists life. There is also a cupboard door that is blocked off indicating that although possibly used for storage, isn’t things he requires seeing on a daily basis, but in front of the same wall we see a desk lamp showing an old fashioned typewriter. This would indicate to me a romantic disposition as maybe word processing a document would not be anyway near glamorous enough. And a key set piece would also be the uplighter that sits next to the desk where the typewriter is placed. This puts you in mind of the theater and the lime lights at the front of the stage. This would indicate that this character sees themselves as the star of the show that they are writing.

 

After another splash card we continue our pan to see the open door and the hallway beyond, showing that he isn’t entirely free of interruption but is somewhat unthreatened by those who would enter. We then see a skeleton, complete with native american headwear, showing a sense of humor when it comes to scientific reality, a bookshelf with many books and other odds and ends and then a telescope and a model of the planets in our solar system. Again showing that his mind is somewhat fascinated by the fantastic.

 

We then have a large wooden beam cutting into the frame from the top right at a 45 degree angle, drawing the eye downwards to a figure sat beneath a window, which somewhat frames the cold, blue, outside world. On the windowsill sits a few ship-in-a-bottle models and on the wall beneath is stuck a picture of a submarine. In the same framing as the submarine and almost drowning along with it, amongst the colder lighting of the outside world, looking out of the window and sat in an defensive, almost foetal, position, we presume, is our protagonist. Then starts a narration from a young voice, with a welsh accent which, while not for definite, adds a possibility as to where this film is set. He is speaking about “most people” and their sense of individuality. This inner monologuing is indicating previous observation of social science and psychology. The conclusions that have been made are based on these experiences and analysis. It demonstrates that, for his age, not having had the life experience that time allows, he has spent quite a lot of time with his thoughts rather than just being swept along with the football or rugby playing masses of british schools. This would also indicate that he is probably not very popular at whichever school he attends, as he probably doesn’t to subscribe to the physical tussle for alpha status that is ‘being one of the boys’. This compliments the image on screen of a teenage boy observing, quietly, the world outside of his window. The inner monologuing also puts us in his head, as if we are sharing his thoughts, as though he is speaking directly to us. This again indicates that he sees his life, in spite of his social positioning, as a film of which he is the star.

 

After the choice introductory words, which suggest his struggle to find his place or sense of individuality, has finished, he introduces himself as Oliver Tate. Finally the pace of camera movement changes from a slow boring saunter. We are hit with quickly delivered, progressively closer cut shots, synched with the sound of a ticking clock giving the feeling that he is just sat thinking in order to pass the time in his otherwise dull life or to analyse it into being more fantastic. We finish on a close up of Oliver breaking the fourth wall with a solid look to camera. As well as indicating with the sudden change of pace that, finally, this is where the action is. This glance also confirms that the narration is the inner monologue of Oliver himself. This addressing the camera is a technique used to great effect to further establish his awareness of the audiences presence in his life and instantly draws us in making us more connected to the character and more likely to see the world from his point of view. As if we are being trusted with his take on things, like a best friend that reserves judgement until the story is done,. Like in the film Alfie where the characters actions may be unbearable if it were not for his personable interaction and charm over the viewer. But with Oliver Tate, he’d be more likely to be looked over completely if he was merely viewed for his actions rather than his much more interesting thought processes. Even his opening line isn’t an introduction to him, it’s to his thoughts, with his name being secondary, as if he knows what’s interesting about him if he’d only get people interested enough in the first place.

 

The soundtrack then turns to an slow sombre opening credits theme, which helps to establish further the mood and pacing of Olivers life, as we are presented with location establishing cut shots of a town. This shows overbearing hills that leave only a small fraction of the frame available for the sky and clouds we previously saw painted on his bedroom walls and ceiling. As the music continues we get more establishing wide and long shots of coastal scenery displayed with dusky pastle hues of blues and purples coming from the sky, with the land somewhat colourless and desaturated. Should these same shots have been presented at a different time of day or with yellow gels, they would make the location seem warm and desirable. But the director of photography did well, with these often used techniques, to establish his life as cold and miserable in a dull british landscape.These shots have been edited in such a way that we get a progressively wider idea of location until we finally get presented with Oliver again who, in the final shot, is looking away from camera, surrounded by nothing but sky, further adding to the feeling of separation from his day to day surroundings. It is a close up shot that leaves no doubt to the importance of this him to the story or his distracted and romantic disposition.

 

We then finish the opening credits with the end of the song and a splash that reads ‘prologue’, something usually found in literature rather than on film. Again reiterating the style in which this film is made. That of a story that is being told, rather than a glamourous Hollywood movie requiring suspension of disbelief. The verisimilitude of the piece is of more importance than the glamorisation of the otherwise mundane. We are to share the subjective experience of Oliver as if we are reading his diary in full moving pictures.

Next up we cut to a classroom where, again with cold lighting, the the camera is set at the hight of the pupils who are all sat at their desks, and appear completely unengaged by the lesson with one yawning to emphasise the point. The teacher looms over with his body only visible across his mid section as he paces the room delivering his lecture. His pacing is indicative of a lion being the king of his pride and would suggest an authority figure, like the legs of humans in many a tom and jerry cartoon, and reaffirms the feeling of the students feeling small. His hands in his pockets and the nature of his delivery would indicate that he has done this many times before and is merely going through the motions rather than trying to inspire the young as he may have once done before overfull classrooms and attitude ridden teens stole his power of inspiration. He then almost baits a student that appears distracted, with a question. He almost certainly knows the answer he’ll receive from the class clown and bully, but, even so, the repercussions are swift as he ejects the student from the class. This student then swats at Oliver on the way out confirming that indeed he is the class bully and antagonist for the piece. Oliver sits expressionless, looking at neither his book or the teacher and instead, we can now presume, is lost in his own thoughts. His lack of response to the antagonism would indicate that it is merely par for the course in Oliver’s school experience. The teacher then goes on with his lesson which is actually a good indicator of one of the now apparent themes of the film, self discovery. “…Who am I?” continues the teacher as the soundtrack comes back with Oliver’s narration.

 

With this narration we get explained and confirmed to us a key character trait of Oliver’s, which until to now only been alluded to, that the only way he can get through life is to picture himself in a “…completely disconnected reality.”

 

The sounds of the classroom fade away as a sombre string section starts as Oliver goes on to explain one of his favourite hypothetical situations to ponder, that in which he dies and the reaction of the world to the event. We have slow moving cinematography with various shots of the school at a standstill. The emotionless or upset faces of his schoolmates as the announcement is made. A cut to the school gates laden with flowers like the gates of windsor palace after the death of the Princess of Wales, as if in someway the impact of his life on the world around would be as great a loss. It goes on to show local news reporters outside the school reporting on this catastrophic even and refering to him as an example. We see an interview with a girl wearing a red coat, the only bold colour that sits out of the muted blues that we have seen until now that would traditionally indicate a love or lust interest. We see girls crying as they try to handle the bereavement and wishing they had the chance to say “sorry” placing the idea that Oliver sees himself as a victim in some way. Scenes of his parents talking on the news about him, candle lit vigils and all presented and framed cleverly in a 4:3 screen format to indicate a ninety’s style television news report that finishes with the reporter speaking of the loss to his friends, family and Wales as a whole. This firmly sets the location for the film as well as Oliver’s desire to mean something to people. Ultimately, on this escapism trip, we see him giving himself messiah like status by showing his resurrection to a group of mourning girls, like jesus to the nuns. This is cleverly rendered, with him grandly displayed by a camera zoom to a position beneath him looking up, in the centre of shot to emphasise his new found power and grandeur, with the same sort of effects as used in the star wars movies for deceased Jedi and has him paraphrasing lines from those films. This reaffirms his tenancy toward the fantastic. We finish this section with a close up of the girl in the red coat from the news interview, quickly becoming a trademark costume piece for her, adding yet more focus to her. She brushes her hair behind her ears for the close up, which body language would indicate is a flirtatious gesture, adding more to the belief that this could be the love interest.

 

We cut back to the classroom where we are dragged back to reality with a note passing classroom prank which Oliver falls victim to. He then shows classroom survival skills he passes it on to Zoe, one person that he obviously sees as even lower down the social hierarchy than him. This fails as she refuses to take it, and he ends up being caught by the teacher and tries to get out of this by passing the blame onto her as the bell rings and saves him the embarrassment of having to read the insulting note aloud. He grabs his briefcase, which as a costume piece goes further to demonstrate his level of segregation and the lack of social acceptance awareness on the part of his parents for thinking it suitable for school.

 

Next shot, we’re outside the the school building. We see the girl in the red coat come outside in a rush to light a cigarette, which as a prop, for someone of her age would indicate that she is a bit of a rebel along with the red of the coat also traditionally, as well as love or lust signifying danger. We get an Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ style musical note on the soundtrack as Oliver exits the building and moves closer to camera. This would indicate that it’s an mentally unhealthy obsession with this girl. We then get yet another splash card, again reaffirming the book style theme, breaking the film into apparent chapters in his head, on which the text is in red which connects it to the red coat and indeed it is the name of the girl ‘Jordana Bevan’.

 

This is followed by Oliver’s narration over an extreme close up of Jordana from an over the shoulder view, showing that he is studying her closely and she is the only thing he is looking at even in a busy room. He starts to describe her flaws but gets as far as one. Her eczema. He goes about analysing her and the potential for a relationship in an almost scientific manner, which almost serves to try and hide his obvious emotional and purely physical obsession. He demonstrates through the narration that he doesn’t know her beyond what he observes and goes further to flesh out the idea that he’s writing his story, as he picks his cast and decides characters and role they’ll play in his life, despite what they are actually like. We see him like a voyeur behind a tree with a tight shot which pulls us in with him, watching her lighting matches from a long shot, giving us a sense of distance at which point she sees him looking, which doesn’t seem to phase her.

 

His narration continues to go along his scientific analysis as to why being seen with her would be an advantage, as we cut to a first person shot walking down the hallway from his POV, then switching to hers and back again with quickening pace. This gives the impression of a quickening heartbeat like that which you can imagine is happening to Oliver. Both appear emotionless as they pass and stare at each other which lends itself well, as a blank canvas, to Oliver’s tendency for writing characters for people. But Oliver’s reaction of holding the arm she just brushed passed shows that his thoughts, emotions and action are not congruent at all.

 

Next comes the revelation that she is single due to her ex, the class bully, cheating on her, which kind of makes sense to her current attention seeking actions of match lighting. Then we get confirmation that she is not truly over the betrayal by the use of a camera shot which frames the school canteen line and has her at the end of the line scowling at him and his new girlfriend further up the line and closer to camera.

 

We then cut to the playground where we start with a long shot of some bullying that is taking place of Zoe, the girl we saw earlier in class. This is being done by someone who would appear to be Olivers friends. The long shot puts some distance between Oliver and the action. The shot is in slow motion, something used to emphasise the action that is unfolding. The subject has a bright yellow bag. The brightness of the colour makes it stand out in the otherwise low contrast shot and draws attention to it as an indicator that it is about to be of some importance to the scenes that follow. It is being viewed not only by Oliver but also by Jordana. In principle, Oliver claims to be against bullying, but seeing that Jordana appears to be entertained by the victimisation on one of her cohorts, he finds himself, firstly justifying it to himself as an almost scientific evolution, in an ‘ends justify the means’ scenario and by the next shot, not merely distant and making notes as a simple observer, but now ditching his beliefs and getting thoroughly involved in the bullying.

 

We see Oliver running though the woods holding the bag. The shot for for the first time is bright and sunny. This is the first time we have seen Oliver interact with Jordana in any sort of way beyond observation, and the bright yellow hues give the shot a sense of warmth and fun times for the first time in the film. Finally we would appear to have a happy Oliver as we get a still of Jordana smiling and the narration saying that it was “indeed the correct decision” to join in with the bullying. We get more quickly edited cuts which would indicate more exciting times and more stills, like photographs that he would keep stored as memories, happy times that he would cherish for ever.

 

Finally we see Zoe and Oliver in a tug-o-war for her bag. When Oliver finally lets go we have a very clever still action shot that adds suspense to what is inevitably going to happen, with the puddle behind. This allows the camera the chance to cut to each of the participants expressions in the moments just before she falls. But this is not a still, indicated by leaves still falling and hair still blowing in the wind. It is merely a device to show that this moment appeared to last forever and the contemplation of the inevitable that effectively builds suspense.

 

In conclusion the overall beginning of the film which I have addressed, effectively establishes the ‘Protagonist’ and his position in the social hierarchy, as well as his introverted character type, his beliefs and how easily they can be ignored if the right motivation comes along, the pace of his life and his overall feeling of disappointment toward it. We are introduced to the location and social class. It introduces the ‘love interest’ and a glimmer into her psychology, that of a scorn, female, rebel, teen. We are introduced to the ‘antagonist’ who happens to be the love interests ex and the class bully. Overall it works remarkably well putting into place all of the required elements for the understanding and telling of Oliver’s story.

Is animation essentially an entertainment, or can it make more serious, perhaps political points?

Animation as a means of story telling has a very unique ability compared to other moving picture mediums. In principle, it doesn’t require any advancement in technology to become any more capable, but solely rests on the abilities of the creator to draw understandable sequential imagery. The image can be almost as accurate as photography with it’s imagery if the artist skills at observation and replication allow or as basic as cave paintings, the first known animation of any kind, dependent on the creative decisions the artist makes. It’s only a matter of choice and time allowed to create it. It gives the artist and creator the ability to produce anything on screen that they see in the minds eye. Anything that they can envision or any point they wish to make, can be created and displayed on screen.

 

Unlike modern text or hieroglyphics, other forms of understandable sequential imagery, this doesn’t require the mind to be a projector. It removes that stage and allows the creator the ability to make their imaginings very definite and visual, with no room for doubt as to what will be seen in the frame. This job is instead done by the eyes and the most magical difference between text and animation is the optical ‘illusion of life’ animation offers. A single image appearing to change over time. It can be surreal, it can be impressionistic, it can be anything you like, but it will almost definitely stir an emotion of some sort without having to necessarily be taxing on the brain. This isn’t to say that it can’t be. It can purposely or not inspire other imagery, but what you will always have is, as best as they could create it, a view of the artists minds eye.

 

It can be inspirational, motivational, comedic, tragic and the list goes on. It can be anything the artist wants it to be. The advent of more recent advancements in technology merely serve as a means of cutting down on life’s most valued and expensive cost, time.

 

Nearly all movies these days start with a storyboard which allows the creators the ability to communicate the overall vision for the shot they wish to achieve. This is a very basic, albeit stilted , form of animation.

 

All of these attributes make it a perfect medium for entertainment but not strictly limited to it. One of the most successful animation company’s in the world would be the Disney studios. Having great success at developing and evolving a lot of the staple techniques we now see used, Disney made it’s money, in the main, through entertainment pieces. But there are examples of disney using the entertainment medium to deliver wartime propaganda.

In the animated piece called “Education for Death” which basically paints a very definite picture for the viewer of the Nazi regime brainwashing the masses with propaganda. This is a strong case of the pot calling the kettle black. It works as an entertainment piece as it doesn’t really require any additional thought to work out the message. But this definitely, unashamedly trying to influence the viewer on a political matter.

Disney does the same again with some Donald Duck animations from the war in ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’, ‘Donald gets drafted’ (1942) and ‘The spirit of ‘43’ (1943) amongst others. We see Disney use one of it’s principle characters to translate anti Nazi themes.

The Fleicher studios, the first people to use rotoscoping, used the Superman to help with the wartime effort. In the ‘the eleventh hour’ we see him go to Japan and destroy enemy ships in order to crush the morale of the adversary. In ‘Jungle drums’ we get to see an infuriated Adolf Hitler after our man of steel foils yet another Nazi plot that sees them costumed and parading as gods in order to gain control over some aztec natives.

Propaganda animations were prevalent in soviet Russia where Stalin saw the medium of cinema as one of the most effective vehicles in passing on his political message and ideologies to the masses. Many animated shorts were made depicting triumphant farmers and peasants, working together for the benefit of the state, where everybody worked equally hard in jobs they enjoyed and were all seen to be well taken care of.

It may have been a little more difficult to make a film with the same inspirational impact. The almost Übermensch quality that could be achieved with the imagery might have been lost. But then the Übermensch is a thing of aspirational fantasy and therefore would require something more fantastic than a camera pointed at the reality of the situation. Animation would allow for image effects that wouldn’t have been available at the time in film making and so was the perfect medium to relay a dictators inner vision.

Music often has either hidden or sometimes obvious political messages and the video’s attached to the songs, which the Beatles started doing as promotional works for their songs and now are an absolute requirement it would seem if a musical artist is to release a single, have often been animated.

An example of this would be pink Floyd’s video for the production of ‘the wall’. In the animation, it tells the story of our protagonist, Pink, and his struggle to deal with reality and the resulting wall of fantasy he builds around himself as an aid to help him live day to day. But through out the artist does a very good job of painting the teacher as an evil character as a puppet to a political system. We see political references to the Nazi army parading, with images of marching hammers in place of soldiers, a metaphor for the nature in which information was delivered in schools along with the dark sarcasm of the teacher. With education an important political subject, I think it’s fair to say the animation helps to deliver the point in a very visual way that may have been missed if it hadn’t have been made.

In summary, animations can be used to relay any sort of idea. I would certainly say it’s harder for them to not be entertaining due to their nature being that of not rooted in reality. Any story can be told. But can political points be made with it? Yes, absolutely. But at the end of the day, Donald could just be fun to watch, the messages and influences only speaking to the subconscious, slyly going about creating the view of the an evil adversary. The other end of the scale could be reading into the Superman story’s that he is doing what he does best, to the best of his super ability, for the greater cause, while only taking a small salary for his day job so he can afford the bare essentials, whilst remaining a character humanity can aspire to become and therefore is a propaganda piece for communism. So what it essentially boils down to, is the ability for the viewer to think critically. There is always an intention to draw focus on an inner vision in any form of art. But as with any form of art, as with life, it’s the person engaged with it that determines whether it becomes more or less than what was intended to be absorbed by its creator.

Animation References.

‘Education for Death’-

Walt Disney Studios 1943 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8bCuNiJ-NI

‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’-

Walt Disney Studios 1943 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYD0Fzf1LU

‘Donald Gets Drafted’-

Walt Disney Studios 1942 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGgZvS2K8lA

‘The Spirit of 43′-

Walt Disney Studios 1943 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y599COPvN-8

‘The Eleventh Hour’

Max Fleisher Studios 1942 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0cvL9gqDzU

‘Jungle Drums’

Max Fleisher Studios 1942 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKszNC7XL8Q

Pink Floyd: ‘The Wall’

Goldcrest Films International 1982 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvPpAPIIZyo

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