Archive for Babe: Pig in the City

The Sunday Intertitle: Velvet

Posted in FILM with tags , , on March 13, 2016 by dcairns


Not quite an intertitle, arguably, more of a super. But a striking one, as it occurs forty minutes into SEQUOIA, an unusual 1934 MGM super-production which until this point hasn’t required any text on-screen, apart from the standard credit sequence at the start.

In SEQUOIA, perky Jean Parker adopts a lost deer calf and an orphaned puma cub on the same day, busy little abductress that she is. She then attempts to raise them as friends, proving her fathers’ crackpot theories that the whole animal kingdom would be chums were it not for the necessity of eating one another. Upon attaining menacehood, the two animals (especially the puma) arereleased back into the wild, but their friendship continues.


This is all an excuse for some wonderful kitsch nature photography, slathered in soft-focus and Mendelssohn. Unusually, the animal stuff takes up most of the film, sidelining Parker and her C-list romantic interest. This exposes the film to the weakness of all those INCREDIBLE JOURNEY type things — we like looking at animals doing cute things, and we like dramatic stories, but faking up a dramatic story with trained animals makes us worry about the wellbeing of the furry actors and somehow loses the fascination of a good nature documentary without acquiring the excitement of a proper drama. It seems to disprove Hitchcock’s idea that pure montage is enough. We will watch animals, their actions cleverly staged and edited so they seem to act, but we’re not involved. If you animate the animals, even partially, so that they ACTUALLY act, you have BABE, or better, BABE: PIG IN THE CITY, and we can really get into it.


Still, SEQUOIA looks sensational.



Donkey Show

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2008 by dcairns

Say Anything 

It seems appropriate to write about my trip to Glasgow while still hungover from the experience. In brief, my great good friend Morag McKinnon is directing a feature film, ROUNDING UP DONKEYS (there are no donkeys in it), written by my other great good friend Colin McLaren, and with my other other great good friend Stephen Murphy doing makeup duties. Stephen designed my clowns for CRY FOR BOBO, made  my prosthetic uncle for INSIDE AN UNCLE, has worked on all the HARRY POTTERS and CHILDREN OF MEN and transformed Jude Law for SLEUTH.

I met Colin and his lovely partner Anita Vettesse at the home of producer and goddess Angela Murray. Stephen joined us. Absent were Morag, too frazzled from her shoot, and Fiona, who has a nasty cold.

Brian Pettifer

I promised you gossip, but as ROUNDING UP DONKEYS is classified as a Film In Production, much must be shrouded in secrecy. I can tell you that the film stars that impressive chunk of Scottish beef, James Cosmo, whose career takes in both TRAINSPOTTING and BRAVEHEART (as well as voicing Thelonius the orang-utan in the mescaline nightmare known as BABE: PIG IN THE CITY) and Brian Pettifer, who appears in all three of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis films. The movie is a follow-up of sorts to RED ROAD, but is half a comedy, which lifts (or lowers) it into a different category. The scheme is intended to produce three movies about the same small group of people, slightly like the concept of Kieslowski’s DECALOGUE, but although it works from the same set of character descriptions, Colin’s script might best be considered an alternative universe version — some characters have different careers and families and sometimes personalities.

Morag met Lars Von Trier, founder of the scheme, and asked him what to do if the story evolved in such a way that not all of the characters could be included. “Oh, just use the ones you want and have the rest ride by on a bus,” he advised. Buses being expensive and this being a modestly budgeted digital short, they are having to go on foot.

Prick Up Your Ears

The shoot sounds pretty strenuous, with six-day weeks and 50% night shoots. Some scenes are being shot night-for-night purely for cost reasons — without enough funds to black out the windows of a church, the production was forced to shoot after nightfall. But — and I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true — it also sounds like it’s going really well. One to watch for.