Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black&White to Color

Surprisingly I haven’t previously watched Pleasantville when it came out in 1998. I lack movie cultural significantly, the television wasn’t a frequent babysitter in my childhood. Pleasantville was a very enjoyable movie; the soundtrack for the film is excellent. Like “At Last” by Etta James and “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck Quartet, one of my all time favorite songs. This song fits so perfectly during one of my favorite parts of the film when Tobey Maguire’s character enters his work place, the local soda fountain owned by Mr. Johnson, and finds everyone to be dead silent looking at him. They all have curious questions of what exist outside Pleasantville. Tobey’s character attempts to describe the customs of the 1990s, what firefighters occupation actually is and begins to tell stories of classic novels such as The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn to his strongly captivated audience. The jazz piece “Take Five” is so fitting for this moment is because the distinctly different yet catch sound emphasized what the citizens of Pleasantville were experiencing.
The idea of color in this movie reminds me of the concept of color in the novel Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. Where black, white and grey represents dull living in contrast to colorful life. There is a social reference in the film about segregation, a shot of a shop or restaurant with a sign stating No Colors. The literally and figurative meaning of this sign is priceless. Overall I love this movie, for more than just my love for vintage 1950s lifestyle, but for the historical revisit, the satirical elements and the underlying message of there is no right way to live life. Yes we might live in a dysfunctional world, but the beauty of life is moving and passionate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Halloween

With Halloween spirits in the air, I decided to be festive and read Ray Bradbury's novel, The Halloween Tree. The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree aired frequently on Cartoon Network used to be one of my favorite films I watched as a child. I thought it would be nice to re visit to the past and read the book that was the back bone of my limited television exposure. The story beginnings with a group of friends gathering to go trick or treating on a Halloween night and discover one friend, Pip the greatest boy who ever lived, to be missing. They find Pip still at home not in costume and noticed something is horribly wrong. Pip sends them ahead trick or treating, “ready set go,” to a very spook mansion of Mr. Moundshroud. Standing next to the home is a massive Halloween tree filled with lit pumpkins, each with a different face. The boys encounter the cunning Carapace Clavicle Mounndshroud and take his offer to go on an adventure to solve two mysteries, the history of Halloween and to find and save Pip.

After reading this novel, I was very motivated to do further research of the origins of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Saint's Day. Modern American culture lacks the back bone to Halloween. We forgot why we dress up the way we do or the reasons we celebrate. Ray Bradbury illustrated very important historical events and customs that shaped Halloween to what it is today. In America, Halloween is about dressing up, watching a bunch of slasher movies and eating copious amounts of junk food. Tradition and values are forgotten in America when it comes to Halloween. Ray Bradbury takes the reader into ancient times, as far back as to the caveman and showing the experience and meaning of Halloween, the turning of seasons and the struggle of survival. He continues through Egypt, Ancient Greek, Mexico and much more. All of these civilizations celebrated and showed appreciation through recognition to the dead. One would assume since America is a cultivation of all cultures and nationalities, traditions of Halloween would carry over. Sadly enough they are lost.

The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree is a little bit different from the novel. Instead of eight boys, the group is changed to three boys and one girl. In the novel, the eight boys behaved rather barbaric and rowdy. The addition of Jenny was a peculiar decision, she introduced a different element into the story. Mr. Moundshroud is more likable in the novel, he is more of a trickster than a business man. The film shows how time has changed since the 1970's.