Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jeff Wayne's Musical War of the Worlds

Can't believe I discovered this in its entirely on YouTube!!!! Incredible....

This has long been an absolute favorite of mine, though tonight is the first time I've seen the accompanying stage show. I had only heard it previously.... once on the radio and then I sought out the CD which I listened to until it imploded!

I'll never forget the first time I heard it... quite by accident. It was Halloween night sometime in probably the early 80s (maybe late 70s?). My friend and I had just left a party and he was dropping me off at my house. We were randomly changing the station (in those days it was done with a knob, no electronics) and suddenly we heard this amazing sound. It immediately transfixed us both... we just looked at each other with our jaws hanging open. We had no idea what it was, and we found it just before arriving at my driveway, but there was no way we were going to shut it off... it was like nothing we had ever heard before. So we kept on going and drove all around the city and out into the countryside and listened to the entire thing... we had fortunately caught it from right near the beginning.

Rediscovering it tonight after all my recent delving into drama and story etc made me realize just how dramatic this production is... something I had taken for granted before. But no spoilers....

At least check out the beginning of it.... I'd venture to say if you're anything like me you'll have to watch it all.

Featuring Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues (and including the song Forever Autumn, which you may have heard before) and narrated by Richard Burton, looking *uncannily* young and suspiciously robotic in his floating head appearance....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Followup notes

A number of observations and/or conclusions I've arrived at after consideration of the recent posts I've made.

Watching all the clips included in my Best in Cinematography playlist made me realize they all share certain things in common...

1) They're all shot in black and white. (DUH!!)

2) They all construct purely imaginative worlds, built from the stuff of history, but not as concerned with accuracy as with the possibility of a world where creative ideas can flourish. This concept runs all through my writing on this blog and elsewhere... I've recently realized it's a thread that links all my favorite authors, music, and movies. Fantasy.... "A world of pure imagination".

3) The stories are told primarily visually... with little or no dialogue. In the case of Von Sternberg, as was brought up in an earlier post about him (click on his name in the labels beneath this post if you're interested) the dialogue was a smoke screen... a surface illusion... a mask of a story designed to subtlely disguise the real story being told through the visuals alone. In Marketa Lazarova, and in Two Lane Blacktop (not included in the playlist but another of my favorites) dialogue is sparse and used almost musically... to punctuate with notes of pure emotion now and then rather than to explain.

4) I'm becoming increasingly aware of a different kind of black and white photography.... markedly different from the high-contrast Expressionist stuff with its emphasis on light and dark areas and with lots of solid black.

Look at the visuals of Marketa Lazarova for instance... not much solid black in most shots... in fact the lighting is very diffused and all-pervasive, being shot outdoors in snow. There also seems to be plenty of fill light, some natural and I'm sure some added artificially. The visual interest lies in contrasts of shapes, textures, tones... in other words, the principle elements of design... of art itself.

This suggests to me that it's necessary to design your sets.. in fact your entire production, well before the story writing stage -- with these textures and shapes in mind. Much the way modern fantasy movies and video games are based on concept art which is done very early in the planning stages of a production.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

YouTube I think I love you!!! Embeddable playlists plus Marketa Lazarova posted on the Tube!!!

Let me start this post by citing Sturgeon's Law (that's Theodore Sturgeon - yeah, he's a science fiction writer, you got a problem with that?): "90% of everything is crap". And that's definitely true of YouTube. But when you start to find that hidden 10% - the diamonds in the rough, nestled down among the garbage, that's when you really see the true power of Web 2.0.

I've only recently started to work on my YouTube channel, and begun to discover the power of the Tube. Tonight I was busy Tubesurfing, favoriting some clips, when I noticed I could create a Playlist, and not only that, but I could also embed said playlist on my blog!!!

So here it is, my Best of Cinematography list (very subjective of course). Mouse over it to see the various included clips, or just use the left and right arrows to move to a new clip.

My most astonishing discovery tonight.... Marketa Lazarova uploaded to the Tube in 15 installments.... in its entirety!!!!! . I had tried to find even brief clips from this masterpiece in the past to show people the pure brilliance of Franticek Vlacil's cinematic genius, and was only able to find 2 clips. But tonight I stumble upon the entire freaking movie!!!!. And also a fantastic music video with scenes from the film set to the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter.

Ok, anyway, yeah -- I'm a little excited about it.

*** *** ***

Wow, now I see 2 of the video clips don't allow embedding (unfortunately including Marketa Lazarova). So they won't show here on my blog. Just click through to my YouTube Channel and look at the playlist itself (where it says Best in Cinematography) and click to "see all" (or use the direct link in the paragraph above). So, the love affair with the New YouTube continues, but with caveats.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Not your father's YouTube

Remember when we used to complain about the quality of YouTube videos? Yowsa... now it's crystal clear and high-res to boot. Gave me an excuse to fiddle with my Skulkin clip and upload it. This Web 2.0 stuff is pretty awesome.