Archive for Satyajit Ray

Rasputin Blows Up, Turns Into Gandhi

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by dcairns

VERY early Looney Tune from Warners. The portrayal of Rasputin — or “Rice Puddin” — seems modeled loosely on Lionel Barrymore in RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS, although it’s not as close as the caricature in Disney’s MICKEY’S GALA PREMIER.

But the singularly remarkable moment in WAKE UP THE GYPSY IN ME is the ending, when a bomb in Rasputin’s pants blows off his hair and clothing, darkening his skin and turning him into Gandhi. Which makes me wonder what the American perception of Gandhi was at the time. I imagine British cartoons, had there been any, would’ve demonized him. This seems to suggest he was a figure of fun in America, or at least at Warners, but with a sinister edge. Here’s another Warner toon with added Mahatmanimation —

A horse gets drunk and is frightened by a manifestation of Gandhi in the mirror, at 6:46.

(How does GOOPY GEER relate to Satyajit Ray’s GOOPY GYNE BAGHA BYNE?)

Did this inspire the appearance of Gandhi in Hell in SOUTH PARK: BIGGER LONGER AND UNCUT? Not necessarily, but it does suggest that this great world leader has been rather ill-served by cartoons. Maybe the time is right for an animated remake of Richard Attenborough’s bloated biopic? The idea is not a wholly original one —

When GANDHI was in the pipeline, there was controversy in India, and some doubted that any mere human actor could do justice to the role. Was it perhaps akin to blasphemy to have some ham play the great-souled one? A concerned citizen wrote to Sir Dickie and suggested that perhaps the solution would be to have India’s leader portrayed by a moving light. Attenborough wrote back “I’m not making bloody TINKERBELL.”

But maybe he should’ve?

Because YOU demanded it!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by dcairns

Fiona complains: “That’s RUBBISH! They look like FLOWERS!”

By request of Andreas. I think he looks quite splendid and dignified.

By request of Paul Duane. Surprisingly little rhymes with “Jordan”, but fortunately I remembered Rudolph’s less-celebrated cousin.

Anne Billson wanted a Von Trier.

By request of David E and Anne Billson. Anybody with more than three syllables per name is going to get shortened. But “Joe” seemed too easy.

Festival Round-Up/Fatigue

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by dcairns



PAPER SOLDIER: Alexey German Jnr’s intense snapshot of the early Russian space programme. Epically visionary style, like Tarkovsky fed through Fellini and dusted with Jancso. Apple juice with Jonathan Romney beforehand. He says it contains his favourite recent subtitle: “Why did you pour soup on that poor dentist’s head?” He’s right, it does.

INUKSHUK: As recommended by Shadowplayer Zach Rosenau, this short animation has a striking graphic style without losing characterisation, and a beautiful sense of cartoon gravity — it’s not the kind of gravity where Wile E Coyote runs off a cliff and stands in mid-air for a second before realising the problem and plummeting to the canyon floor. It’s new. It’s gravity with a graphic logic behind it — a giant whale vaulting overhead draws a little Inuit kid up into the air by force of its large and dark bulk.


DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST: Mark Cousins has turned a local church hall into a kind of Indian movie temple for a celebration of Bengali cinema. The iconic Sharmila Tagore was there to introduce this movie, which she made forty years ago with Satyajit Ray. Ray phoned up and she said yes without thinking, then realised she was making another feature at the same time. The lesser director had to shoot all her scenes in a studio and match them to his location shots. “He wanted to kill me.” Sharmila is still breathtakingly beautiful.

AN EVENING WITH DON HERZFELDT: Don makes dark and touching and funny short animations. Oh, and terrifying. He’s in town, selling his DVDs. I must have one. You should buy one too. A unique voice! Here’s a single-frame sample.


Now imagine several thousand of these frames, all different. Some only a little different. Some very different. That’s a Don Herzfeldt film.

FOLLOW THE MASTER: Debut feature from occasional Shadowplayer Matt Hulse. Matt and his girlfriend and their dog go for a walk. It doesn’t sound like much of a narrative, but he packs a lot in. An interweaving of documetary/journal with experimental film.

WIDE OPEN SPACES: Edinburgh’s own Ewen Bremner (Spud in TRAINSPOTTING) stars with Ardal O’Hanlon (Dougal in Father Ted) in a comedy by Ted scribe Arthur Mathews. Two debt-ridden losers take work in an Irish famine theme park. A lot of good jokes and performances, although not everything comes together to make this the new WITHNAIL AND I, which is what it ought to be by rights. Truly awesome performance from Don Wycherley though. I didn’t know him before this.

Sat next to my friend Travis Reeves during the screening. Travis did all the gravel in this film. Next to Travis was the chap who did all the wind. And there is a lot of both those things in this film.

John Cobban, who mixed the sound, wants me to say that the sound system at the Cameo Cinema is inadequate.

Bumped into Sarah Bremner, sister of the film’s star. Sarah was art director on my film CRY FOR BOBO, and is a champion forehead wrestler.

Keep seeing Peter McDougall, whose TV work from the ’70s is being retrospected. McDougall has the world’s most powerful moustache. If he were in the Wild West, strong men would build him a temple.


SHIRIN: Abbas Kiarostami’s minimalist film of an audience watching an unseen film, had its own audience rapt with attention, even through to the very end of the end credits. I did wonder if it would be more stimulating to turn around and look at my audience watching his audience, but decided against this.

Get home and try to kill spiders in the bathroom at 00.34am.

Fiona: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Trying to kill spiders in the bathroom.”

Fiona: “We’ve got spiders? More than one?”

Me: “Three.”

Fiona: “Three? Are they breeding?”

Me: “Don’t think so. They’re a bit too far apart.”