Friday, September 9, 2011

Proms and animation :)

Hello again! I’m still writing this in Hahn airport, but I thought I’d break up the posts a bit.

I happened to see a poster in the Tube the other day advertising an animation exhibit that was closing this weekend. Oh!! I thought, I’d like to see that! It was the last week, though, so I had to go on Monday or Tuesday or Thursday (Wednesday being reserved for my Proms attack plan. Hmm. I hope the combination of those words doesn’t trip any security computers). I booked my tickets and left work early on Tuesday, navigated the Underground to Barbican, and entered the exhibition.

It was well done – the first exhibition space consisted of projection screens showing early black and white experiments with animation, with black thread dividers and UV light. Next you moved into a huge space with two giant screens on opposite walls, showing clips of characters from different films or animated shorts. From there on there were lots of smaller screens showing clips and full films, which frustrated me somewhat because I like to read everything and see everything and I ONLY HAD 129 MINUTES. I really enjoyed it anyway. One of the rooms was showing a clip from the original Tron on an entire wall, while another was done up to look like an abandoned building game-set, with a giant computer screen on which you could move around inside an actual game. Really quite creepy.

I was amazed to see a 1941 Chinese film with singing, and it had the bouncing ball on top of the words. I didn’t know that technique was so old. There was also an old French film about a fox, a really good Tim Burton short called Vincent, a Canadian film about neighbours that won an Oscar in the 50’s, and a clip by Len Lye (the guy who designed the water whirler in Wellington in the 1930’s).

On Wednesday I took lasagne to work, heated it up in the microwave, and then took the Tube to South Kensington, walked the subway to the Science Museum and then along the streets to the Royal Albert Hall. The line was only halfway along the block when I got there thirty-one minutes before the doors opened, and I was the last to receive a raffle ticket that guaranteed my place in line. I was quite pleased about this, and sat down to eat my still-hot lasagne and my mandarins, and snap open my umbrella when it started to rain.

The Prom was a piece called Bridge and a piece by Birtwhistle in the first half, and Holst’s The Planets in the second half. I’d looked up the Birtwhistle piece on Youtube beforehand so I knew what to expect: film to match a horror film. I quite enjoyed it (though I think the man behind me didn’t, so much), and at the end the composer was brought down from the audience and seemed very pleased with everything.

The Planets was excellent. When Mars began, someone near me whispered Star Wars!, and I think John Williams may have taken some inspiration from Holst – Mercury reminded me of Harry Potter. If you don’t know which pieces I’m talking about, look up Holst Mars or Holst Jupiter and listen – these are probably the most famous. Despite Mars being The Bringer of War and much less subtle than some of the other Planets, I think it’s my favourite. I couldn’t stop grinning as the huge sound filled the hall. And I’d love to play the tambourine for Jupiter.

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