On the 30th and 31st of July in Melbourne, we had a special event called Open House Weekend. It unlocks buildings of our city so you can access them on those days only. We are allowed into these spaces with guides providing insights into the importance of these buildings whether it’s significance is being of historical importance, engineering based feat or architectural design. For myself, I only had the Saturday free to explore so I made it to the six buildings featured below. As today is August 19th here, World Photography Day, I thought I’ll share some special photos of Melbourne, as it’s my part of the world.
The Origin Roof Garden
This was my first port of call. After wandering like a lost tourist up and down the road several times, I found the queue for this in Flinders Lane. This was designed by Jamie Durie (who’s of Sri Lankan descent like me) after his team were inspired by the trend which included forming of green spaces within urban centres. The lucky employees at Origin use this private garden in the sky to enjoy yoga, tai chi and other activities.
Myer Mural Hall
This was my fourth stop all the way in Bourke St. It is located on the 6th floor of the retail giant Myer. It is a huge hall designed to hold 550 people with walls decorated with large murals, depicting women through the ages, painted by artist Napier Waller. The murals which were painted at Waller’s studio at Fairy Hills in Ivanhoe and then brought to Melbourne took one whole year to complete. The dining room is significant because this is a rare and intact example of Streamline Moderne style department store dining room in Australia.
RMIT Storey Hall
This is a very striking example of Melbourne architecture because of how dominant the colour green is here. It is because it used to be called the Hiberian Hall. Irish Catholics felt ignored by the Protestant population in Melbourne because they were denied access to the largest public halls for meetings. So they built this hall in 1887 . It was used for pacificist and anti-conscription rallies during WWI and used as a commune during the General Strike of 1917.
The Pixel Building, which is named after its attention-grabbing pixellated exterior facade, is now where the former Carlton United Brewery used to be. This building of four storeys which was designed by Studio 505 cost a cool 6 million dollars. It uses wind turbines on the roof and employs a grey water recycling system with reed beds on each level. It aims to become Australia’s first carbon neutral office building.
Melbourne City Baths
In early Melbourne, municipal baths were necessary as private houses had little in the way of private bathing facilities. Built in the early part of the 20th century, this is a distinctive Edwardian Baroque building which was designed by architect JJ Clark. If you look at the signage at the City Baths, you will see on the exterior of the building that there were separate entrances for men and women. On the second floor, there’s a balcony which features historical photographs of times past and you can see the men’s pool from the balcony.
National Gallery of Victoria
The NGV was designed by Roy Grounds, an Australian architect. It was the first major public building to be constructed in Victoria in the fifty years following WWI and the first new art gallery to be constructed in Australia after WWII. It features an abstract ceiling of multicoloured glass by artist Leonard French, which really took a beating during the hailstorms. The entire building is surrounded by a moat. The water feature at the entry, where water flows down a glass screen, called the Water Wall is your first glimpse of interior art.
I’ve been meaning to this for a while now but it was delayed because I was working on the Burwood Bulletin since it’s due to be published in September with three of my six writers off duty. In addition, I got some extra work shifts from my second job. So I actually had to undertake the job duties of a journalist in addition to editing. When I return home, nothing seems better than a good sleep.
It was tough to hit the ground running with this one but I really wanted to share so I’ve got my butt into gear. These films meant so much to me even if they were animated and either dubbed in English or subtitled. What I am talking about are cinematic creations by Hayao Miyazaki.
Howl’s Moving Castle
The first Miyazaki film I watched was Howl’s Moving Castle. Based very loosely on a book by Dianna Wynne Jones, the story is about the adventure of a young girl, Sophie Hatter, who is cursed with an old woman’s body. To break the spell cast on her by the nasty Witch of Waste, she seeks the help of a handsome but terrifying wizard by the name of Howl. His residence is a home that moves. A fire demon in the home, Calcifer, makes a deal with her that he will release her from the spell if Sophie releases him from the contract he has with Howl. The catch is he is not allowed to tell her how she can bring this about. When the disreputable wizard starts to fall for Sophie’s genuine charms, the fun begins. The characters and creatures are crafted excellently although Miyazaki has shown more strength in his character development in other productions. The animation is stunning and we are treated to a moral tale by changes of physical appearance and of character, reducing its preachiness while managing to work well as a lesson. It’s not as bad as Roger Ebert imagines.
The Oscar-winning Spirited Away is another mind-blowing movie by the “Japanese Disney”. Ten-year-old Chihiro, who is moving away with her parents to a new neighborhood, is upset about leaving her old friends and school behind. Her father’s attempt to take a shortcut to their new town leads the family to an abandoned theme park where they find an unattended food stall fully laid out. Her parents dig in but Chihiro is uneasy and frightened. She encounters a spirit called Haku who warns her that she and her family have to leave before nightfall. But when she runs back to alert her parents, they’ve turned into pigs. It turns out she is stuck in a spirit world. So with the assistance of Haku, she gains a job at the bathhouse run by the witch Yubaba. She’s renamed by the witch as Sen and learns if she does not hide her true identity, she’ll lose her sense of self forever. While she is whiny at the start of the movie, the responsibility she is saddled with develops her as a character. She begins learning how to deal with difficulties and becomes a stronger person because of her trials. After her parents turn into pigs, she’s scared and lost, but by the end of her journey in this fantasy spirit world, she is confident and strong. The film is rich in cultural symbolism and was vastly popular with the Japanese audience. It didn’t do too badly in the western world either as Disney took it on board but it did lose some significance in the transition…unfortunately.
I’ve also watched Princess Mononoke, which could be considered an animated fantasy Japanese period drama. A young warrior by the name of Ashitaka is stricken by a deadly curse when he’s protecting his village from a rampaging boar-demon. To seek a cure, he goes to the forests in the west where he finds himself mixed up in a war humans are waging against the forest. The Lady Eboshi and her clan who live in a sacred area use their guns against the forests gods and a young woman, Princess Mononoke, who was raised by a wolf-god. The young warrior sees both sides are good people and the war is unnecessary and does his best to intervene. The groups each begin to think he is working for the enemy while he tries to convince them there are no sides. While this maybe an animated film, it is the adults who will gain more to learn from it. Besides the fact this is mostly hand-drawn makes it a major achievement.
The Cat Returns
A young girl called Haru saves a cat from traffic. She starts receiving gifts and favours from the King of Cats that she does not want for saving him. He wants her to marry his son, the Cat Prince Lune. Her rescue of the cat forces her to involuntarily become engaged to the cat prince in a magical kingdom. She finds the assistance of a real but grouchy cat and an elegant cat statuette that has come to life. These two cats also made a cameo in Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart. They help her to find the way to escape from the cat kingdom. This is a more relaxing and fantasy oriented film with that can be enjoyed in its own right as a splendid example of animation.
Whisper of the Heart
Whisper of the Heart is an animation so sweet that it tugs at the heartstrings. The plot is about a budding teenage romance but this constantly explored theme is given a new veneer as it avoids typical stereotyping. This screenplay was written by Miyazaki but it’s direction was undertaken by another talented man, Yoshifumi Kondo, who died of an aneurysm in the following year. We meet the girl, Shizuku, who regularly checks out books from the library. To her annoyance, someone else is checking out the same books. Later she coincidentally meets the culprit to blame, a boy. He finds a song she’s writing for graduation and tell her the lyrics are corny. Pissed off, she leaves to bump into him again after following a curious cat. Seiji turns out to be the grandson of a violin maker and he himself wants to develop his skill in that art in Italy. When she hears him play, she is entranced and inspired to pursue big dreams of her own by writing a book in the midst of their budding affection for each other. She feels as she is uncertain of the future she wants and he has big plans, they might not suit each other. You’ll see a different ending if you watch the American version but I watched a fan dub and was not displeased with the future marriage possibility discussion by the two adolescents. There is a manga that uses this title but it is not possible to say the print and film versions are the same story.
Love Never Dies, the sequel to the Phantom of the Opera, was a spectacular theatre performance in almost every aspect. Only being staged in a few select locations in the world, I was thrilled to be watching it at the Regent last night. The premiere performance of the show was attended by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. Soon as I saw the magnificent and elaborate set which was complemented by skilful lighting and the Edwardian elegance of the setting, it took my breath away. Luckily my friend had secured some mid row seats which meant we had a fairly good view of the proceedings onstage.
This performance had a darker atmosphere as it was set in a circus in Coney Island, New York – home to freaks, the grotesque, the sinister and the weird. Naturally, such a place being the abode of the disfigured phantom (played by Ben Lewis) made sense. His opening number, the emotion stirring ‘Till I Hear You Sing comes at the very beginning and its haunting melody lingers with you until the very end. We are first introduced to the circus called Mr. Phantasma by three narrators: a dwarf, a strong man and a tall man. They were framed by a large white phantom mask that encompassed the stage and glowed with a red eye. According to the storyline, Christine Daae (played by Anna O’Byrne) is apparently coming to America to conduct a performance for Mr. Hammerstein in order to pay off gambling debts incurred by her husband, Raoul (played by Simon Gleeson). But the mother of the star singer of the circus, Madam Giry (played by Maria Mercedes), who had smuggled the phantom of the opera to Coney Island from Paris knows the impending visit will only threaten the future of her daughter, Meg (played by Sharon Millerchip), the current star of the show who wants the attention of the phantom, the owner of the circus.
When Christine and Raoul visit New York, they are accompanied by her ten-year-old son called Gustave (played by Kurtis Papadinis). He displays an astonishing talent with the composition of music and while he tries to get his father interested in his playing, Raoul shows no inclination or interest in his ability with the piano. He asks his mother if his father does not love him and she responds with a song asking him to see the love with his heart. Then after Raoul is summoned to conduct a business transaction with Mr. Hammerstein, the phantom visits Christine and then asks her to sing a song composed by him instead. This is when the phantom meets Gustave and is introduced by his mother as an old friend. It is only when the phantom hears the boy play the piano, he realises the boy has talents with striking resemblance to his own. Then he takes the boy to a place like another world where the song changes pace as it becomes a rock song called The Beauty Underneath which was a highlight, glass pyramid like rotating structures carrying mythic creatures inside spun on stage and the lights pulse in a bright orange glow.
But it was too early to reveal the truth about his face to young Gustave, who recoils in horror. Meanwhile feeling ignored and unwanted, Raoul spends time getting drunk at the bar. In his drunken stupor, he takes on a challenge proposed by the phantom. If Christine does not sing, Raoul will be free to leave with her and all his debts repaid but if she chose to sing, it would mean Christine had selected the phantom instead. This disappointed me because it made the phantom into a villain, Christine into a deceptive wife and Raoul into an ill-used man who had been burdened with bringing up the son of another man. This interpretation is not perhaps the expected one.
Unfortunately, Christine chose to sing, Raoul left her and she was reunited with phantom briefly until Meg’s jealous rage stepped in and she ran off with Gustave. When Meg finally had the attention of the phantom as she was on the brink of suicide, she tried to perform Bathing Beauty – which was a cheeky but cute number prior to the song by Christine. But the phantom as he tried to stop her made the mistake of telling her that not everyone was like Christine. Meg sets off the gun and the consequences ensure there would be no possibility of a sequel unless it was to be about Gustave. As she lies dying, his mother tells him the truth about his real father but he is at first hesitant to accept the fact. After he runs off to bring back Raoul, the phantom steps away to the side but the finale of the show is when Gustave gets brave enough to see the phantom without the mask.
Since this story is different in its characterisation to the original by French author Gaston Leroux, while I was definitely surprised at the tragic ending, it pleased me the scheming machinations of the phantom ultimately got rid of the trouble-causing woman. Despite the storyline not living up to that of its predecessor, it is worthy of Broadway just for the visual design of the set and the theatricality of the deeply hued costumes.
13. Little Miss Muffet was cool on top of a spider:
The sculpture is based on the nursery rhyme of the same name. It was first printed in 1805 in a book called ‘Songs for the Nursery.’ The sculpted Miss Muffet however is sitting on a Jumping Spider and not on a tuffet. Did you know it can jump up to 40 times its own body length? To identify them, pay attention to the eye pattern. They have four pairs of eyes with large pair of eyes in the middle.
14. Alice and the Caterpillar were chilling with the Cheshire Cat:
Well, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland won an Academy Award in art direction during its 83rd Anniversary – just saw it on TV about two hours ago. There is a hookah smoking caterpillar here with Alice and the Cheshire Cat nearby.
Caterpillars are the larvae of the Lepidoptera family of insects such as butterflies and moths. Because caterpillars are soft-bodied, slow movers, predators find them to be an easy target. To protect themselves, caterpillars use several methods like eyespots, poison, foul odours and camouflage. Despite being puny creatures, these guys have 4000 muscles while we humans only have 629.
15. Roach Motel was a literal translation – just made from sand:
Cockroaches usually are disliked by most people because of their preference for scurrying around in and consuming rotten food and other garbage. But these fellows can actually go without food for a month and hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Kind of impressive. Because its brain is scattered throughout its body rather than being in the head is why cockroaches can run around for a week before thirstiness kills them.
Have you watched Antz or A Bug’s Life? Those are some cute movies featuring ant colonies. Large colonies mostly consist of sterile, female ‘workers’ and ‘soldiers’, fertile male ‘drones’ and fertile female ‘queens’. They have great organisation skills and are social creatures. The only landmass that has no ants is Antarctica and some remote islands.
17. Frogs Galore was a surprising choice:
They made it into the display of creepy crawlies because their quick movement, the way they can camouflage and the feel of their skin. Besides their diet is on insects such as bugs and flies and sometimes worms. Most frogs evolve after hatching from eggs as tadpoles. When the tadpoles grow, they lose their tails and grow the legs that allow them to perform jumping feats. Find more information on frogs here.
If you are in Melbourne and are interested in going, you are in luck. It’s open until April 2011 near Frankston pier.
The Frankston sand sculpture exhibition, made up of a heavy sand known as ‘brickies’ sand brought in from Graham Quarries in Langwarrin, pays homage to Tim Burton with its depiction of insects and gastropods in their 2011 exhibit titled Creepy Crawlies. It makes sense to use the insect theme since apparently there are 220,000 insect species in Australia. But apart from the insect based constructions, there are displays of other creatures such as Annelids and Amphibians too.
1. The entrance display Creepy Crawlies greets us:
It provides an overview of the creepy crawlies that you are to encounter within the exhibit. This mostly shows insects under the arthropod classification and a group within the mollusc family called gastropods. The sand sculpture is completely solid and there is no foam or open space beneath them. To build it, the sand is compacted into wooden forms to create shapes and sizes of the structures in a form resembling a giant wedding cake with many layers. These layers help the sculptors to climb to the top, remove the wooden formwork from the uppermost layer and begin carving. They climb down the different layers to carve instead of using scaffolding or ladders. Once complete, a biodegradable sealant is used to repel moisture and preserve structures.
2. The second was an exhibit of a flea circus:
Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts like mosquitoes. But fleas prefer four-legged hosts because fur is much more hospitable to them than human skin. Because they don’t have wings, fleas have adapted to jumping long distances instead. Flea circuses originally were sideshow attractions at travelling carnivals where spectators could watch them through special lenses but nowadays magicians and clowns are the only people who might use it as a sideline act. Even then, these days they are more likely to use mechanical devices rather than fleas. You shouldn’t blame them because in the 14th century, fleas caused the death of over 200 million people by spreading the Bubonic Plague from rats to humans.
3. Sewer Connection was the depiction of an underground sewerage system:
There have been many stories of animal sightings in sewers that range from the credible to the absurd. Despite these stories, no evidence confirming these reports have been found making it far more likely to be an urban legend. The only animals found in sewers usually have been washed in during storms and conditions in the sewer make it hard for them to survive. The only exceptions might be rats, spiders and cockroaches.
4. The Boogie Man was the subject of the fourth sculpture:
Remember The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton? This is based on the character of Mr Oogie Boogie, the Boogie Man. Famous for scaring children into compliance in many cultures all over the world, this particular version resembles a hessian sack. In the film where he is the main villain, it turns out bugs have a lot to do with him. The word ‘bogey’ or ‘boogie’ originates from the Middle English word ‘bogge’ or ‘bugge’ which is also from where the word ‘bug’ derives its name.
5. Bed Bugs had pride of place in sand next:
“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Have you heard this refrain? Bed bugs are wingless insects that shelter in dark places close to where people sleep. So I would check mattresses, floorboards, carpets and behind loose wallpaper since these bugs like to feed on human blood. Their saliva, injected when feeding, can make our skin react badly. During the mid 20th century, the incidence of bed bugs became low but now thanks to international travel, resistance to insecticides and the prevalence of central heating, the numbers are multiplying.
6. The Exterminator was next in line:
Technology has developed its electronics to become smaller with progress. Robots based on insects have become popular and there are many ‘robo bugs‘ in the toy market. Using the same principles, miniature robots have been created for rescue operations such as building collapses. With the use of an artificial antenna, these bugs can navigate in the dark through small crevices. Perhaps this pest control guy has the wrong address! Once the technology has been perfected, these robots can be used in emergency situations. You might have heard that cockroaches (plus other insects) could survive a nuclear blast but after a month or two, the effects of radiation will finish them off.
7. Beatlemania was a rather quirky one:
The Beetles was the name The Beatles originally had as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets when they decided to change from being The Quarreymen. Beetles make up 40% of the insect population and the 400,000 species of beetles classified depicts their ability to live in nearly any habitat. Beetles eat anything from hardwood to ooze from rotting fungi making them an invaluable asset to any ecosystem.
8. Lair of the Spider Queen was this one’s title:
In 1941, there was a Golden Age comic book character called Spider Queen. She was the secret identity of Sharon Kane, sworn nemesis of all evildoers. This modern take of her is surrounded with more spiders. An ancient source of fear and fascination, they range from the Armoured spider that has a body the size of a pinhead to the South American Goliath Tarantula – so big that its legs span a dinner plate!
9. The Hive was displayed next in its glory:
Did you know it is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination? Bees have a big role to play because they are important in the pollination of plants. Beehives are constructed in that hexagonal honeycomb shape because it allows each cell to contain the maximum amount of honey for minimum wall space. These nests only have a single entrance.
10. Giant Scorpion was smaller than some other creations:
Scorpions belong to the Arachnid family. Although mostly nocturnal creatures, they can be active in daytime during enduring wet weather. The ones in Northern parts of Australia are more venomous. Most live for 2-10 years but some have lived to the ripe old age of 25! Also scorpions glow in the dark under ultraviolet light.
11. A Closer Look was an interesting sight:
This is a sculpture suggesting we unwittingly eat a lot of bugs in our food. This includes tiny caterpillars in the salad lettuce and weevils in flour baked into cakes. But throughout the world, there are some cultures which consider them a delicacy. Well, why shouldn’t they? Insects are a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
12. Enchanted Garden was an illustration of the less creepy insects:
Do you find every insect revolting? Butterflies, dragonflies and ladybirds can perhaps even be considered ‘cute’. This garden sand sculpture is home to creepy crawlies of the delightful variety. It also includes snails, crickets and grasshoppers but they are ‘good’ insects because they make gardens thrive.
To be Continued….
So as I was saying ….
4. Beauty and the Beast.
In this tale of Beauty and the Beast , the narrative deviates from the usual damsel in distress stereotype since Beauty in effect tames the Beast and that distances her from the women who need rescuing from heroes. Belle is actually one of the foremost independent, wilful and resourceful Disney characters. Notice that she is not a princess – she comes from a working class background. Sometimes I feel this is one reason for the universal appeal of this story and as it is so adaptable to numerous situations , it has spawned into other manisfestations in several guises.
- Think Lolita and Humbert Humbert.
- Think Bella and Edward Cullen in Twilight.
- Think Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daae.
Within the exhibition, it was interesting to note the designs the artists originally created to portray the Beast. The first resembled a wildebeest/warthog/swine-like combination or a bigger, nastier looking version of Pumbaa from The Lion King. It had protrudring tusks and long teeth with furrowed bases. Even I felt inclined to agree when my friend commented, “Kids wouldn’t have liked that one. He’s too ugly looking. “
The second illustration was based on an orangutan and possessed distinctive simian features. But the monkey like appearance made it difficult to conceive the creature in a non-humorous, brooding aspect. It just felt too much like he should have belonged in the accumulations of Dr. Doolittle.
The third beast was the one they went with. He was actually an assortment of animals but the big mane of hair, in my view, gives him a lion-like aspect. All the designs however had stuck to the ponytail with the bow. The fact he looks like a big cat with soft, haunting eyes I feel contributes to make him an appealing beast.
6. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid, another perennial favourite of many, was in the adjacent exhibit. A video installation consisting of the scene where Ursula forces to Ariel to sign a contract which states she will exchange her melodious voice for the ability to be human played interchanging with the tunnel scene where human Ariel and Prince Eric enjoyed their boat ride to the accompaniment of Kiss the Girl by Peter Andre.
The artist who designed Ariel’s hair which moved and flowed along with her in the water modeled it on the view of a female astronaut’s hair in space.
7. The Princess and The Frog
This was a fim that was mired in controversy as soon as Disney thought it would be nice to have an African-American princess. Even though it bears little relation to the princess who lost her golden ball in the original story, it is an interesting take on an old classic. Then there’s the issue of Tiana tying the knot with Latin American prince Naveen and the outcry about her not doing so with someone of the same race.
But then if you consider the union in the Little Mermaid , Prince Eric was a far cry away from Ariel’s species! So I fail to understand what this hullaballoo regarding interracial marriage is about …
The artwork of New Orleans and Louisiana bayou is beautifully done and the vibrant colours have a decidedly different aesthetic from other Disney films. Perhaps it is a result of the new territory they explore with this feature.
I cannot pass any judgement on the film’s merit as it is not yet released but I have heard awestruck exclamations about the painstaking artwork required Rapunzel’s 3D hair for which they assigned an artist singularly responsible for that particular part of her anatomy. Her hair movement was based on the gliding mechanism of a slithering snake which seems to have made it easier for looping, coiling and tying actions.
It was with delight I noted her rescue in Tangled would steer away from the tried and tested forms by Disney. The hero Flynn seems to possess a lot of the features of John Smith from Pocohontas although he’s a brunette rather than a blonde. It is probably for the best since who would want to compete with Rapunzel’s locks?
By its conclusion, I realised strangely a lot of my favourite members of the Disney canon were missing. Esmeralda, Mulan, Pocohontas – these ladies did not make an appearance which was disappointing. Is it something to do with race? One is most likely Eastern European since she is a Gypsy, the next is from the Far East and from an oriental background while the last is a Native American.
Nevertheless for an exhibition titled Dreams Come True, it did a unique job of transporting me into Disney’s classic art.
Everybody seems to know Disney as the maker of animated films which end in happily ever after. The exhibition at ACMI that I attended on the weekend offered fascinating insight into the concept artwork , creative process and the final creation of well known and much loved Disney animated characters that was categorised into eight separate areas. It is apparent even the animation industry is going through a significant shift from 2D to 3D as the digital world becomes all pervasive as it ranged from Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme based animation to the new Tangled movie that is loosely based on the tale of Rapunzel.
1. The Introduction
This area was devoted to explaining who Walt Disney was and illuminating us as to what his vision was when he decided to use old folk tales, legends, mythology and European fairy tales as inspiration for his animated artwork. Even though he lacked any formal education , visits to the public library where he read books on animation turned out to be immensely useful as they imparted the knowledge he desired. As he expressed, ” all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
This is where the audience is introduced to Mickey Mouse who happens to be an original character created by Disney to rival Felix the Cat , created by Pat Sullivan, and who arrived ahead of the full length fairy tale features. Within the exhibition area, we are treated to a film clip about Mickey that uses the concept of Jack and the Beanstalk. This was during the time he created features like The Three Little Pigs, The Ugly Duckling and The Country Cousin.
2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White, the original tale which derives from the Brother Grimm version from Germany, has a special place in motion picture history.
- It was the first full length cel animated feature in the world of movies.
- It was the first animated feature film produced in America.
- It was the first animated feature that was produced in full colour.
- It was the first animated full length feature produced by Walt Disney.
The transformation of the Wicked Queen from her usual appearance to ugly hag in her underground laboratory was the most complex level of animation undertaken at that stage. To achieve the voice changes, the actress Lucille La Verne who voiced the Queen removed her false teeth was an interesting tidbit I picked up.
Cinderella was in the next section of the exhibit and as inspiration was taken from the narrative popularised by French writer Charles Perrault, the story is very similar. Interestingly, live action models were used for this film and they were responsible for heavily influencing many of Cinderella’s mannerisms, especially Helene Stanley.
She had an even larger influence on Aurora (Briar Rose), who is otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. The earliest Cinderella story however comes from China and actually originated during the Tang dynasty.
4. Sleeping Beauty
This is a favourite Disney film of mine as it has a magnificent villain in the form of Maleficent ( which aptly means evil-doer) . So perhaps those who believe these classic animations are simply kiddie films and lack symbolism are in the wrong. Much of the Disney canon utilises myth and metaphor to a deeper extent if you look beyond the surface.
Aurora also happens to be my favourite princess although not my best loved Disney character . That title goes to the lovely Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame based on the novel of Victor Hugo, also the author of Les Miserables. The artwork in Sleeping Beauty happens to be amazing which comes as no surprise as it was influenced by medieval European history especially in dress design with a touch of 1950s glamour (think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday) and then topped off with a dash of Persian design in background illustration.
What I noticed from most of these were that the villains were mostly older women who had issues with other women being younger or prettier or more resourceful. If symbolism is present, what does that mean?
But then we come to the story of Beauty and the Beast which is a different affair completely.
To be Continued…
Creative methods of expression through the art of writing have always held my fascination. The following three projects certainly grabbed my attention for their ingenuity and so I shall share for the benefit of those who have the enthusiasm for things of this sort:
You might not know who Philip Thiel is (unless you read Frankie or were an attendee at the Emerging Writers Festival this year) but he plans to kiss 365 people of either gender in 2010 and document every kiss in his Livejournal account, 2010: A Year of Kissing People. I’m not sure if what he exhibits is bravery or madness but fortunately for him, his husband Julien is okay with this business. It is also worth looking at his back history of social literary projects that involve giving flowers, people following and writing two lines of iambic pentameter per day.
If reading about locking lips with strangers is not your cup of tea, 420 Characters might suit you better. Every story written by the author based on the ‘status updates’ of a popular social networking site is limited to 420 characters including punctuation, letters and spacing. It originally started out as an exercise in practising fiction for Lou Beach.
In keeping with the theme, some time back I read this article about the Matchbox Project which happens to be more of an artistic rather than literary endeavour. This in turn reminded me of Kevin Cordi’s StoryBox Project. Both projects follow the same pattern but differs in the packaging and content of the boxes. Matchbox is meant to be a showcase of portable art while StoryBox is about the stories,papers, videos and other content people want to showcase to the world through a globe-trotting box.
These things have made me come up with several ideas of my own except I realise I need to be able to sew to put together a quilt of book covers I’ve read. Since I’m the type of person who takes half an hour to get the thread through the eye of a needle, hopefully someone with passion for needlework could be hired for this project.