Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

27 JANUARY, 2012

An Animated History of Human Communication: 1965 Educational Film about the Telephone

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Barely a decade into the age of the social web, it’s already difficult to remember — or imagine — how the world operated before it. As difficult, perhaps, as it was for kids in the 1960s to imagine a world before the telephone.

We Learn About The Telephone is a 1965 educational film that traces the history of human communication, from the messenger runners of the Ancient world to Native Americans’ smoke signals to the invention of the telegraph and telephone, and explores the science and technology of how the phone actually works, from the anatomy of speech production to the physics of sound waves. Animated by the legendary John Hubley, the film is as much a treat of vintage animation as it is a priceless piece of cultural memorabilia from the golden age of media innovation.

Bonus: At around 10:56, you get a detailed tutorial on how to dial a rotary phone — for your collection of obsolete life skills — followed by some phone etiquette lessons. (“You should let the phone ring 8 to 10 times.”)

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23 JANUARY, 2012

Tango: The First Polish Short Film to Win an Oscar, 1980

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Everything that could happen in a room, happening.

You might recall Blok, a wonderful 1982 experimental Polish animated film, using a single continuous shot to take a voyeuristic tour of the different apartments in a building. From the same era comes Tango — a clever and spectacularly executed 1980 film by director Zbigniew Rybczynski from Polish short-film studio Se-ma-for. The cinematography, capturing multiple events taking place simultaneously in a closed space, was so complicated and required such precision that Rybczynski worked on the film for nearly a year, eating and sleeping on the set.

In 1983, Tango became the first Polish film to win an Oscar.

Tango appears on the altogether excellent two-disc DVD Anthology of Polish Animated Film.

Thanks, Mark

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13 JANUARY, 2012

A Beautiful Animated Adaptation of Bukowski’s Poem “Bluebird”

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Visual whimsy to make Bukowski’s magic shine.

Charles Bukowski’s poem “The Bluebird,” originally published in his 1992 anthology The Last Night of the Earth Poems, is a quietly profound meditation on an all too familiar facet of the human condition — our compulsion to conceal and stifle our most tender and vulnerable selves underneath tough, controlled, meticulously architected exteriors. This mesmerizingly beautiful animated adaptation of the poem by Cambridge School of Art student Monika Umba is the perfect piece of visual whimsy to bring to life Bukowski’s magic.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

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