Posts Tagged ‘George Melies’

My father suffers from Alzheimer’s dementia and is a resident at local nursing facility. One of the highlights of my frequent visits there is when he is flipping through the channels on his TV and comes upon a shot of the president(*) of this country.

It stirs him, producing a most visceral response in him and he almost always snarls out, ” I hate that f!@*&ing guy.

My dad might not know what day it is, how old he is or where he is, but he knows a creep when he sees one. It always makes me laugh and I generally tell him that I feel the same way.

And my agreement with him might never be stronger than it is this morning as I watch this creep attempt to dismantle the healthcare system in a reckless way that most likely will hurt many people in healthcare facilities like my dad. That will hurt scores of working class families who depend on the subsidies to buy health insurance. That will put more and more Americans at risk.

This spoiled man-baby’s lack of empathy is breathtaking. You see it everyday in his actions and his inaction.

For instance, his response to Puerto Rico is beyond reprehensible and immoral. It is a shameful black mark on this country.

Another example is his silence on the tragic fires in California, not to mention the same for earlier fires that terrorized much of the west.

Or take the fact that he has yet to say or tweet a single word about the four US troops killed in an ambush by an ISIS affiliate in Niger. This blob of ego uses his support for the troops as a political tool of division yet instead of meeting one of the troops when their flag draped casket came home to Dover, he played golf at his club with a Senator on that day.

Not a single solitary word to honor those troops. Yeah, he’s got your backs.

There are so many other examples of his lack of empathy, his narcissism, his greedy self-serving actions, his barely covered scorn for people of color, his need for retribution and revenge, his lack of personal responsibility, his total lack of actual ideas,his ignorance of policy and our constitution and his stupidity in general.

Yes, he is a f@!*#ing moron, as his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson so eloquently stated. And that f@!*#ing moron is the face of our nation now.

People said they wanted change. Well, they got it, in the same way you get change when you drive your car into a tree.

Yeah, I know that 9 billion dollars for health subsidies for the working class is a lot of money. As are the billions of dollars required to help folks rebuild their lives in the wake of the horrific storms and fires the past few months. But a tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the top 1% and explodes our deficit by a trillion and a half dollars is somehow equitable.

I know, I know. Shut up and paint.  And I will do that in minute.

I just need to vent periodically. Some vitriol sparks creativity and some destroys it. I find that holding it in is not conducive to my work. Nor is ignoring the things taking place around us. I preach transparency and honesty now so I would be wrong to avoid the subject, to parse my words to not insult those people out there who somehow can accept the actions of administration and can’t see the damage being done to our nation or the future that it portends.

In short, when I see my dad today and he says his piece on this person, I am going to tell him that he’s being too easy on him.

Okay, thanks for making it this far. Here’s the payoff: a 1901 film, Fat and Lean Wrestling Match, from French film pioneer George Melies. I love his early effects and the sense of fun and wonder he creates. A good way to clear the palette.

I am going to shut up and paint now.

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I wrote a week or two ago, after seeing the film Hugo, about the work of George Melies and how wildly inventive it was at the advent of modern cinema.  He used built sets and illusion to create  images that were like scenes torn from a dream. 

The same might be said for the work of Robert and Shana Parkeharrison, contemporary photographers who create magnificent metaphorical landscapes on elaborate painted sets then photograph them.  Old school.  There is no computer generation here.  In their best known series which is captured in a book of the same title from 2000, The Architect’s Brother, they create a monochromatic, sepia tinged world that is both filled with foreboding  and trepidation as well as sheer beauty.  Each image is poetic and thought provoking on some level. 

And powerful.

I’m sure I’m not giving as much detail about this couple and their work as you may desire.  I just wanted to pass along their imagery and let you do what you may with that.  Besides, if I write much more, that means I have less time for exploring these photos further.

Here’s a slideshow of the images from the Parkeharrisons’ book, The Architect’s Brother.


Edison's Light


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We saw Martin Scorsese’s newest film Hugo yesterday, the story of a young orphan who lives in the clockworks of a Paris rail station.  I enjoyed it very much even with though I am still not yet sold on the need for 3-D in this film.  Or most films, for that matter.  Some of its use in the film was interesting but often I found it distracting and sometimes downright irritating.

But what I really did like was that one of the main characters in the story was the great pioneering filmmaker, George Melies.  His life and body of work were key elements in the storyline.  It gives an overview of his life from his birth in 1861 through his early years as an illusionist and magician, as well as a maker of automatons, which are self-operating machines that often resemble human forms.  Clockwork robots– another important part of the film. It then documents his career in film , telling how he used his background in magic and illusion to create wonderous worlds in the new medium of film.  He created some of the first special effects seen on film and even toda, with all the CG effects available,  they are quite interesting to see.

The film also tells of his fall from the public eye and the destruction of many of his films, many of which were sold to the French military to be melted down to make celluloid heels for boots.  As in the film, Melies ended up running a toy booth at a Paris rail station before a new generation rediscovered the genius of his early work.  Though much of his work is lost forever, many have been recovered and restored.

Being a fan of early fims, I am glad that Scorsese was able to so beautifully pay homage to this early giant of cinema in Hugo.  I’m hoping that a few moviegoers will find in Melies’ work a huge imagination and inventive spirit  worth exploring more.  There is an amazing amount of wonderful film from the earlest days of the medium and I hope that a new generation will discover these hidden treasures, much like those who rediscovered Melies after World War I. 

Here is a restored Melies film, Le Diable Noir. Like many early films, it is short and a simple story.  For modern filmgoers, the acting will seem a little over the top but you have to remember the time frame here.  In early films, as well as the theatre of the time, gesture was big part of getting across emotion.  But that aside, the effects Melies incorporates are tremendous for the time.  Actually, ahead of his time.

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