Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Alex's walls, scraps and pages... his thoughts in ink and graphite.
Five years ago, I brought home a book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, because it looked like the kind of book that simply belonged in our home. Illustration, words, invention, automatons... these are like the air we breath... we live on this. And between the covers, we found even more to embrace: dedication, faith, perseverance, the exquisite beauty of our ability to imagine and create, to invent.
Dear Mr. Selznick, thank you for sharing your art, the words and images you brought to life before our eyes and imagination. Your book is a delight.
Do you know that almost possessive feeling that can seep into your heart when you love something, when you connect to art, invention, creativity? When the connection stirs your core, and you want to shelter what you have found, and ensure it's sacred uniqueness... keep it from being poorly represented, overexposed? Those feelings and thoughts certainly crept into our consciousnesses when we realized someone was bound to make this dear book into a movie.
We did not want The Invention of Hugo Cabret misrepresented in a movie. We dreaded an uncanny valley treatment of the characters, like what The Polar Express suffered: "In reviewing The Polar Express in 2004, CNN.com reviewer Paul Clinton references his uncanny valley response directly: "Those human characters in the film come across as downright... well, creepy. So The Polar Express is at best disconcerting, and at worst, a wee bit horrifying."" <--- true, that.
We didn't want the emotions trivialized, diminished. We didn't want the invention and reverence lost to the kind of flashy and empty celebrity... all effects, that are superficial and insincere. No glitter, please. No moon-eyed-over-hyped romance, no gas jokes, and spare us a movie "made" for children, where adults assume childhood lacks patience or intellect.
Yes, we had high hopes, great expectations, and the anticipation was tense.
::Page torn from physics notebook::
We went as a family to see the movie, Hugo. We do a lot, everything? as a family. It's occurring to me that this is almost a paradoxical concept, because it is obvious that we should do things "as a family" and yet at times, in our culture, it seems necessary to distinguish, acknowledge, those distinct things that we do together, with each other... pardon me, I digress. I believe I meant to emphasize that we do not often make a significant difference between the interests of our children and our own, and very many times it is the interests of our children that motivate our activities and choices... hence Love and Rockets, and 2102 Team Paradox, and The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation. We saw Hugo, together, and we loved it, together.
Our family has many interests. We feel passionately about how things are made, the origins and process of art and invention. William spends as much time watching how a movie was developed as the final production itself. We make movies, and build robots, we paint at the dining table, we melt, burn, stitch, wire, build, and play, we would go out of state to support a high school robotics competition... new roofs can wait. I get very excited about facilitating and supporting the passions and interests of children who want to know more, who are curious, who have an idea that maybe something new can be made.
There are people whom we admire, because they have pursued their art and invention with inspiring passion and devotion... Nikola Tesla, Temple Grandin, George Méliès, Leonardo da Vinci, Gever Tulley, Tasha Tudor, Alberto Santos-Dumont... to name but a few. And I don't think any of these people had the least notion of seeking fame or riches... they are, were, simply following their own curiosity and interests. Some become famous or popular, but my favorite celebrities are the people who work to make changes for the world, who teach and inspire for the sheer joy of making a beautiful sound, or supporting opportunities for everyone, young and experienced.
::Charcoal Life Drawing::
Dear Mr. Scorsese,
Thank you for respecting the writing and art of Brian Sleznick. Thank you for making a movie worthy of our time and interest, and respectful of craftsmanship, history, and art. You have distinguished yourself as an intelligent, visionary man who can bring together creative and talented people, to work together for a purpose that goes beyond being merely entertaining and into a realm of reverent invention, art, and humanity. Thank you for treating children as intelligent beings who can endure pain, overcome strife, and excel. Thank you for letting this movie reflect life, where age and circumstance do not have to dictate what is possible. You have upheld the truth that, our abilities and choices are greater, when we support and believe in one another. Our family is admiring and appreciative of what you and your peers have accomplished. Thank you.
::Ink, Mother and Child, exterior view::
William and I are bringing home the movie Hugo, today. Later, this week we'll be sharing a screening, when we celebrate William's twenty-first birthday.
Alex's art is here, because I've been photographing his art for his portfolio, and so my camera is full of his drawings from recently, and years ago. All of these images make me happy, for what they are, and for what they make me recall, and feel. Ask Alex who his influences are, and he'll name several people and things, including the one he considers his first teacher... his brother, William. I am so thankful for the resources and opportunities we have, and especially for the wonderful family I have to share them with.