A crack team of second year Character Animators and CG Artists at The Animation Workshop/VIA UC in Viborg, Denmark, were given the task of producing 30-second trailers inspired by classic movies. The animators produced a selection of beautifully executed work which included trailers for Francis Ford Coppola’s last great movie Apocalypse Now, Wim Wenders’ cult hit Paris Texas, everyone’s holiday season favorite Casablanca and the rock ‘n’ roll musical Grease—which has been made into an interesting hybrid using elements from Tron and Blade Runner.
Previous trailers made by the workshop include Alien and The Big Lebowski (which has hints of Kung Fu Panda in it)—all of these and others can be viewed here.
The Animation Workshop is considered to be “one of the most dedicated animation institutions in the world,” and you can have god look at their back catalog here.
Bonus trailer for ‘Alien’ and ‘The Big Lebowski,’ after the jump…
In February 1962, a group of young German film-makers issued a statement at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Called the Oberhausen Manifesto, the declaration stated, “Der alte Film ist tot. Wir glauben an den neuen” (“The old cinema is dead. We believe in the new cinema”):
The decline of conventional German cinema has taken away the economic incentive that imposed a method that, to us, goes against the ideology of film. A new style of film gets the chance to come alive.
Short movies by young German screenwriters, directors, and producers have achieved a number of international festival awards in the last few years and have earned respect from the international critics.
Their accomplishment and success has shown that the future of German films are in the hands of people who speak a new language of film. In Germany, as already in other countries, short film has become an educational and experimental field for feature films. We’re announcing our aspiration to create this new style of film.
Film needs to be more independent. Free from all usual conventions by the industry. Free from control of commercial partners. Free from the dictation of stakeholders.
We have detailed spiritual, structural, and economic ideas about the production of new German cinema. Together we’re willing to take any risk. Conventional film is dead. We believe in the new film.
It was signed by twenty-six film-makers including Alexander Kluge and Edgar Reitz. But it would take until the end of the decade before a more radical and ambitious group of film directors put into practice the aims of the Oberhausen Manifesto.
Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Jean-Marie Straub and Rainer Werner Fassbinder allied themselves to a New Cinema that dealt with the interests and issues of their generation, and sought to achieve an excellence of creativity, rather than films made for purely commercial reasons.
Signs of Vigorous Life: New German Cinema is a short documentary on the origins of New German Cinema, which features interview footage with Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Film director Wim Wenders discusses his work as a photographer and his interest in photography, explaining how Digital photography has altered our relationship to transience. Wenders makes reference to his early films Alice in the Cities, where the photographer was a visionary, through to one of his most recent, Palermo Shooting, where the photographer is no longer present in the experience of what is shot, rather thinking ahead, more concerned with how to Photoshop and Digitally alter an image.
Wenders has taken photographs most of his life, and though a pioneer of German Digital cinema, Wenders still refuses to use a digital camera for his photography.
“Over the times I’ve done some digital experiments myself, even with photography. But in the end I gave all these Digital cameras away because I didn’t know what to do with them. I just didn’t know what to do with these things that make time disappear. For me the privilege of photography lies very distinctly in the possibility or the obligation of being here now. To cherish the moment, to enjoy that, which can just happen if you wait half an hour till the light changes. That makes it even more valuable. I am glad to be able to do photography. Since I took up photography I am a much more content person.”
For Wenders photography was a way to deal with the transience of life, where “pictures are mediators, messengers, translators between the visible and the invisible.”
The interview was recorded in Berlin in 2008, and though there are a few typos in the sub-titles, it is a thought provoking interview.
During the Cannes Film Festival in 1982, Wim Wenders set-up a static camera in a room at the Hotel Martinez. He then invited a selection of directors to answer a series of questions on the future of cinema:
“Is cinema a language about to get lost, an art about to die?”
The directors, in order of appearance were:
Mike De Leon
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Each director was alloted 11 minutes (one 16mm reel of film) to answer the questions, which were then edited together by Wenders and released as Room 666 in 1982. Interestingly each director is positioned in front of a television, which is left on throughout the interview. It’s a simple and effective film, and the most interesting contributors are the usual suspects. Godard goes on about text and is dismissive of TV, then turns tables by asking Wenders questions; Fassbinder is distracted (he died within months) and quickly discusses “sensation oriented cinema” and independent film-making; Herzog is the only one who turns the TV off (he also takes off his shoes and socks) and thinks of cinema as static and TV, he also suggests movies in the future will be supplied on demand; Spielberg is, as expected of a high-grossing Hollywood film-maker, interested in budgets and their effect on smaller films, though he is generally buoyant about the future of cinema; while Monte Hellman isn’t, hates dumb films and tapes too many movies off TV he never watches; all of which is undercut by Turkish director Yilmaz Güney, who talks the damaging affects of capitalism and the reality of making films in a country where his work was suppressed and banned “by some dominant forces”.
Poetry of the Western World Read By Celebrities and Collected by Clare Ann Matz is a fab selection of poems read by Ralf Zotigh, Wim Wenders, Dave Stewart, Billy Preston, Ian Astbury, Dario Fò, Robbie Robertson, Allen Ginsberg and Solveigh Domartain.
The video starts with Ralf Zotigh reading the Ancient Native American fable - “Today is a Good Day”:
This is followed by Wenders reading from Walt Whitman’s Inscriptions (“To A Certain Cantatrice”). Dave Stewart, erstwhile of the Eurhythmics, reads William Blake’s “Sick Rose”, then, the late Billy Preston (first silently, then with soundtrack) reads Dylan Thomas. Ian Astbury, of The Cult (and clearly no fan of Dylan Thomas!) also reads, from the same poem, “Should Lanterns Shine”. Dario Fo, Nobel-prize-winning playwright and theater-director, reads (in Italian) Andre Breton’s “Fata Morgana”. Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan’s confrere, comes in next, reading a selection from Allen’s “Song”” (“Allen wrote this. huh?”), and has some difficulty following the syntax (“an the soul comes..”? “and the soul comes..”?). Allen himself follows (with the aforementioned reading of “Father Death Blues”). Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire “angel”, actress Solveigh Domartain, concludes the tape, returning once more to Allen’s poem - “the weight of the world is…love”.
Alfred Hitchcock made a habit of appearing in his own films, it became such a distraction that the great director ensured his trade-mark profile appeared soon after the opening titles, so audiences could concentrate on the intricacies of the plot rather than play Where’s Alfie?.
Over the years, other directors have adopted the Hitchcockian cameo (M Night Shyamalan being the most irritating), or turned it into a memorable scene - Martin Scorsese’s creepy cameo as a cuckolded husband in Taxi Driver is a small film all of its own. There have also been the directors who give cameos to the film-makers who influenced or inspired their careers - Jean-Luc Goddard’s homage to the genius Sam Fuller in Pierre le Fou, where the legendary director of The Steel Helmet, Underworld USA, The Naked Kiss and Shock Corridor expounds on cinema:
“Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word . . . emotion.”
Here is just a small selection of some notable cameos by directors in their own and in other director’s films.
Legendary director Sam Fuller appears in this party scene from Jean-Luc Goddard’s ‘Pierrot le Fou’ (1965)
More directors in front of the camera, after the jump…
You can picture the scene, lunch somewhere, another glass, and then the producer says. “I know this band, they’re hot, they’re what the kids want, let’s get them in the movie.”
It’s a win-win situation. Surely? The band starts their film career and receive major media exposure; while the movie has cachet from the group’s fans. This, of course, all depends on the quality of the film and the songs.
Does anyone remember what The Yardbirds were playing in Blow-Up? All I recall is Jeff Beck going Pete Townshend on his guitar, while a white trousersered David Hemmings intently joined a rather bored-looking audience.
Amen Corner had topped the UK pop charts with “If Paradise is half as Nice” and must have seemed a perfect call for the Vincent Price, Christopher Lee schlock fest, Scream and Scream Again. Singer Andy Fairweather-Low is beautifully filmed in the background as loopy Michael Gothard prowls a nighclub in search of fresh blood. The trouble is the song’s a stinker.
Sparks were allegedly second choice to Kiss for the George Segal, Timothy Bottoms, Richard Widmark dull-a-thon, Rollercoaster. The brothers Mael had moved back to the US after four successful years in the UK, and had just released their album Big Beat, from which they played “Fill Her Up” and “Big Boy” to a wildly over-enthusiastic crowd. The audience obviously hadn’t read the script, as the film is turgid, and the band’s cameo is its only highlight. When asked about the biggest regret in their career, Sparks said appearing in Rollercoaster. Understandable.
Brian De Palma stopped copying Hitchcock form a few minutes in Body Double to make a pop promo for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax”, right in the middle of the movie. Surprisingly, it works. But perhaps the best, almost seamless merging of pop singer / artiste in a film is Nick Cave in Wim Wenders in Wings of Desire. Cave is perfect, as is the film, and he was a resident in West Berlin at the time, writing his first novel And the ass saw the Angel.
Of course, there are plenty of others, (Twisted Sister in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, The Tubes in Xanadu, anyone?), but oddest may be Cliff Richard and The Shadows in Gerry Anderson’s puppet movie Thunderbird Are Go. Difficult to tell the difference between puppet and the real thing.
Michelangelo Antonioni originally wanted The Velvet Underground for ‘Blow-Up’ (1966), but a problem over work permits led to The Yardbirds, with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck playing “Stroll On” in the cameo.