(Images above from Unsplash*)
We now have the internet and two-way content on it, meaning that the public can create content, not just be delivered it.
The digital landscape has transformed how we learn, how we communicate and how are entertained.
It is huge. And like the genie out of the bottle - there's no putting it back.
At least I hope this is true. For me, this is a fair and reasonable use of the term ‘progress’. The amount of dull television that I've watched in my life simply due to the fact that it was there - and it was all that there was - is incalculable. Back in the day you got what was on at the time. If you missed it there were re-runs, but catching those was hit and miss.
This is a nice touchstone to the title topic about technicolour, but I’ll get there in a moment...
Today I write this whilst listening to songs on YouTube that I choose to hear, having earlier watched a show I chose to watch.
The very idea of not having exactly what you want, when you want it, will forever be a generational gap of understanding and experience.
Young children are now able to pick up a smartphone and see Peppa Pig or Dora or any number of potential favourites when they want to (Bluey is apparently big in Australia at present - meant to be good as well! The ABC is generally good at their kids programming, it needs to be said) .
With such options at their fingertips, they may not necessarily understand why I sat through all those bad episodes of Happy Days in hope of catching the next good one. In this same way, I cannot relate to the excitement of having a tiny black and white television, with less channels than I grew up with, where you had to stand up and walk to 'The Box' just to complete the simple task of changing the channel, or volume. I also can imagine, but not truly know, how the generation before that would sit around the radio, and so on, feeding backwards into the past, each iteration the technological marvel of its day.
In my particular slice of timeline in this history of technical evolution, a big thing was the Movie Matinee.
If you were inside on a weekend during the day and the TV was on, after the Top 40 music videos (which were themselves after the cartoons), there’d be a bunch of old movies that the tv stations would rotate regularly.
It seemed that all the movies I didn’t like were on every other week, and the ones I loved much less. Still, there was a fair chance to randomly come across the same ones at least 3-4 times per year and, if I liked them, I’d lay on the floor looking up at that bright glowing screen, and I'd absorb them deep.
There were a number of favourite old classics that I loved to bask in the glow of. One that still holds up I think is The Three Musketeers. I really must test that sometime…
A ‘guilty’ pleasure as a boy, trying to be a rough and tumble type, was The Sound of Music. I’d grumble and squirm but there was one TV in the house and others had control of the remote - another experience technology has given us the potential to move away from.
I’d sit/ lay and complain, but wait at least until that one song that I quite liked. And then there was that scenery on the mountainsides that fascinated me - so different to the experience of growing up on the flat Adelaide Plains. By the time they were singing ‘Edelweiss,’ I was cheering for how they could sing their resistance to the Nazis!
Looking back on it, it was a reasonable response to the moment, shared with family, and of course for the fact that it was actually a good story. As an aside, my Nan in Mildura always swore that she knew the original real life Maria character, who’d moved to an old folks home there. Never fact-checked her on this - she was my Nan after all - but it helped to get me caught up in the story of the movie.
You never knew what movie(s) they would show on any given weekend, but these many other movies of my childhood could instantly be recognised as being ‘old,’ for how they looked.
Colour, but some weird type of colour, like someone had drawn over real life footage with their bright colour markers.
This was - is - “Technicolour,” and for its own slice of history way back** when, it was the best ‘wow factor’ technology going.
For me as a kid, it was old, poor technology. Saying that, when you sat down to see a movie and saw this colour in the first few seconds, the ears went up in anticipation! For in this first flash of garish over the top hyperreal colour, I knew that I was most likely going to be transported somewhere 'else...' This could be the Swiss mountains, or pirate ships, or Arabian desserts, or Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest. The beauty of the blank canvas of potential of sitting down and hopefully, maybe, if I was lucky, getting caught up in a good story. Early influences, hey!
One more example, to tie the influence of technicolour memories back to the business at hand that is Red Rabbit Rises. It is the actor Danny Kaye, playing the character with the same name as the movie, Hans Christian Anderson, famed for amazing, beautiful, classic children’s stories.
This is not to try to make any equivalence here to Hans as someone trying to write children’s books. His are loved, ageless classics for a reason. I highly recommend them for any who are not already fans.
The memory that comes to mind is a scene that always caught me in the moment as much as the character was caught in the moment. For being caught in the moment was his nature.
His strength, his genius - but in this scene, his downfall. To keep a theme going, the song of the same name as the character and the movie sees him arrested for disturbing the peace, for being where he shouldn’t be - on the ‘King’s Statue’ in the Town Square. A humble cobbler (maker of shoes – it is still a thing, just a smaller thing now) who dared to dream his dream. Who got so caught up in the moment that when asked by the police for his name, he didn’t just give it, he sung it at them! Even as a kid, I loved the combination of the beauty and the obvious stupidity of this moment.
His was an infectious joy for storytelling, told in technicolour splendour, that carried everyone away - himself definitely, but at the very least me as well. If I was going to acclaim any equivalence with the great Hans Christian Anderson - any at all - it would be the wonder of being caught up in a story.
It is a thing I share with him. It's also a thing in common with many - both now and through the ages. And whatever happens to be the most up to date evolution of technology there is this element of consistency counterbalancing the progress, for technology continues supporting the form of story and storytelling in the best and most up to date way it can.
Another consistency is that there's always going to be space in this all for a good story well told.
Whether heightened with the latest Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), or tucking up on the couch on a wet Sunday afternoon with a little bit of technicolour goodness, or the consistent tried and true of opening the pages of a book with a smile and diving into the world(s) within, stories remain. And it is here, in this space, that Red Rabbit Rises sometimes (like above) reminisces, but always resides.
- Chris O’Malley
*Images above from UnSplash - a site to be held in wonder for the diversity and quality of its copyright free images, yet balanced against how utterly terrible it's search filters seem to be. Attribution with thanks Clockwise from cinema front to Ricky Turner; Rob Laughter; Saskia Fairfull & Sebastien LeDerout).
**This ‘Way-back’ reference is word-play, but also a gratuitous plug across to the day job. There are amazing things that happen and that you get to experience in what is (sometimes) known as the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector. These are also known as ‘Collecting Institutions’. We who do so are lucky in many ways to have the chance to work in them. It is there that I came across ‘The WayBack Machine,’ an archive of the Internet. Check it out!