Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘film’

23 DECEMBER, 2011

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossoms

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“If you give up, it’s all over.”

A piece of existential poetry for your weekend: Japan’s most beloved flower began blooming a month after the devastating disaster.

Even when the flower falls, we love it. That’s the heart of the Japanese person. Flowers dying is not a sad thing.”

(What a lyrical way to capture the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which has no direct translation in English but connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.)

From award-winning British director Lucy Walker of Waste Land fame.

via Doobybrain

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23 DECEMBER, 2011

Max Fleischer’s Original 1947 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Animation

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How Santa’s ninth reindeer made his on-screen debut.

In 1939, Robert L. May conceived of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a poem, published in a booklet by iconic department store Montgomery Ward. But “Santa’s 9th Reindeer” didn’t become etched into the nation’s collective imagination until May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, adapted Rudolph into a song in 1949. (What makes the story all the more curious and poetic is that Marks was Jewish, yet he created some of the most popular Christmas songs we know today.)

But Rudolph made his first screen appearance two years earlier, in 1947, in a cartoon short produced by animation pioneer Max Fleischer. The film was later reissued by the Handy (Jam) Organization — who also brought us such gems as a manifesto for makers (1960), cinematic homage to mid-century design (1958), and an animated explanation of how radio broadcasting works (1937) — with the song added in. The 8-minute animation, now in the public domain, is a vintage treat of the most delicious variety:

Fleischer’s film was eventually adapted into a lovely children’s storybook in 1951, illustrated by Richard Scarry.

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15 DECEMBER, 2011

Viewers Like You: Edward Gorey’s Animated Intro for PBS’s Mystery

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Lessons in giving from the master of the macabre.

I have a well-documented soft spot for legendary mid-century illustrator Edward Gorey, whose stories about mischievous children and curious creatures influenced generations of creators as diverse as Nine Inch Nails and Tim Burton, and who even eleven years after his death managed to delight us with one of the best children’s books of 2011. But what catapulted Gorey into cultural cachet were his animated introductions for the PBS show Mystery! in 1980 — an absolute micro-treat of Goreyesque grim whimsy.

As a regular supporter of public media (and myself the proprietor of what’s essentially a donation-based public service), I’m particularly delighted by Gorey’s refreshing take on the familiar “viewers like you” message — easily the most charming way to ask for a donation.

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