The Big Story

Lately, you may have noticed a longer time between postings here. Yes, of course, I’ve been busy. A new term at Art Center just began; I’m working on a new book, several time intensive projects, and heading to the Dice conference tomorrow to speak. Nevertheless, I’ve been busy for years. The saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person,” applies to me. The issue is graphic design. I spend all day with it. I teach, write, and yammer on about it. Lately, when I think about posting something I look at possible design pieces and think, “I am so over this.” Don’t worry. It’s a passing phase, and I’m bound to find some design I’m inspired by soon.

To escape typography, I watched Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, and Ryan’s Daughter again recently. They are all remarkable. If you haven’t seen these, they aren’t what you think. Yes, Doctor Zhivago and Ryan’s Daughter are love stories. But they are played out on such a vast scale against epic times. And, they are extraordinarily and exquisitely designed.  David Lean’s vision is clear and refined. Julie Christie (who looks remarkably like Paula Scher) is the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The Panavision cinemascope and color is unbelievable. These are big, big, big movies. This is what a movie is supposed to look like.

I admit, there are some aspects that didn’t age well. Everyone’s makeup in Doctor Zhivago is a little heavy and runs toward a groovy 1965 dark eyes, light lips look. As T. E. Lawrence, Peter O’Toole captures a complex and troubled character, but he should have said “no,” to the third application of mascara.

Finally, there is a scene in Ryan’s Daughter that is my favorite in any film. It’s only a moment, when Sarah Miles lies on the forest ground and looks up. The camera points up to the tree's canopy. There is no music, only the sound of the rustling leaves and creaking of the branches as they barely move in the wind.

It's a Wide, Wide World

The Cinerama Dome is an incredible movie theater in Hollywood. The screen curves at the front of the theater to create a “surround” experience. I recall seeing Vertigo there (the re-digitized re-release. I’m not that old), and sitting on the far left of the front row. The result was a bizarre and skewed Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. Now the Cinerama Dome is part of the Arclight complex. The Arclight makes other movie theaters seem like filthy places where old men are touching themselves. I especially like being able to reserve a specific seat. I hate sitting in the middle, and prefer an aisle—hence the skewed Jimmy Stewart.

Cinerama was created in the 1950s along with a host of other technologies that would draw the viewers away from television and back into the theater. It was sort of like 3d now. Sometimes this was nifty, as in Lawrence of Arabia, but the un-letterbox version broadcast on television created many odd scenes of people talking to no one. The logos for these technologies were often better than the movie. So here, for you viewing pleasure, are some of them.