Saturday, 27 October 2012

Week 3 Of University (Mon 22 Oct)

Today in the lecture, we (the class) watched the French short film The Red Baloon (1956) and looked at it within the context of a fable (a story, usually involving anthropomorphised beings, like animals or inanimate objects, with some sort of moral at the end):

  • The opening shot of the dark buildings against the early morning sky seemed reminiscent of a painting from a storybook, where many would have read fables as small children.
  • The baloon seems to be alive or sentient in some regard, following the boy around and obeying when told things by him and becoming enamoured with a blue baloon, effectively, being anthropomorphised like a lot of characters in fables (i.e. the tortoise and the hare, the fox in Fox and The Grapes, the raven in story of the raven and the water jug etc.)
  • The baloon at points has a mischevous quality, heckling the boy and other people around the town, again, like a character in a fable.
  •  The other boys steal the baloon and throw stones at it, conjouring an image akin to Christ's abuse at the hands of the romans, recalling the fact that some fables (and parables, which will be brought up later) have their routes in religion.
  • The end, where all the baloons come and fly the boy away, is very reminiscent of the strange or fantastical endings or turns in childrens stories, as well as being open to interpretation, again, like fables.
Then, we saw a short film, The Stag Without a Heart, which was normally a gallery piece that played on loop. The story, told entirely from a man sat on a bed, dealt with a stag who, tricked by a wily fox, get his heart torn out by the king of the forest, the lion. Regretful, the lion gets the heart of another deer and gives it to the stag. The fox returns and tricks the lion once again into killing the stag, making him think the stag will 'spill the beans' on his methods, the loop emphasising the neveredning cycle of manipulation, the beginning where the fox meets the stag matching up with the end where the fox goes off on the lion's orders.

Afterwards, in the seminar, both fables (the most famous ones, like the aforementioned Tortoise and Hare, written by the greek Aesop) and parables (religious stories, most famously from the Bible, with some sort of lesson or moral at the end) were discussed. We then watched Disney's adaptation of The Tortoise and The Hare, making notes of changes and alterations made to the story:
  • The story has been Americanized, notably with the Hare, who has been made into a American jock/sports celebrity type, complete with boxer robe and cocky attitude.
  • The addition of female characters, both as background characters and the four rabbit girls who flirt with the hare (potential sexual element?)
  • The addition of jokes/gags (mainly visual/slapstick).
  • More acute humanisation (the addition of clothing)
Then,  after reading a version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the class was split into groups to come up with their own versions of the core idea of the story. My group changed the story's setting to the beach, and instead of a wolf, it was drowning. And after that, we took a closer look at parables and looked up the story of the Prodigal Son and how it fits into the concept of the Hero's Journey, which we looked at last week:
  • The son goes off to another land (Crossing the threshold)
  • Wastes his money on drink and pleasure (Temptation)
  • Goes back to his father (Atonement with the father)
My closing thoughts are that, once again, its interesting to see how universal and timeless these stories are, and how they can still remain intact and have the same morals in them regardless of how many times they have been adapted and modernised, and, in the case of the Disney version, think about elements that don't seem to be of major importance, but do affect how the story feels, flows and how the moral works.

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