Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 30: The Dark Side Of The Rainbow

If you cue the CD of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon to start at exactly the same time as the third roar of the MGM lion in the opening credits of The Wizard of Oz, the film (with the sound turned down) and the album (with the volume turned up) will run along together with, apparently, some uncanny and spooky moments of synchronicity.

The album’s running time is only 42 minutes and 52 seconds, so you have to put it on 'repeat' to start again to run the full length of the film, but it has it’s rewards, I’m told. For instance, on the album there’s the sound of a heartbeat at the end of ‘Eclipse’, which coincides with the moment in the film where Dorothy puts her hand on the chest of the Tin Man (who only wants a heart)!!??

Or, when ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ plays for the first time, it becomes the soundtrack to the scene where Dorothy and Toto are swept up in the twister that takes them out of Kansas to Oz. ‘Brain Damage’ plays as the Scarecrow sings ‘If I Only Had A Brain’. The track ‘On The Run’ starts as Dorothy falls off the fence. Yikes!

By the way, have you noticed how many popular musical connections there are to this film? There are two bands I can think of - Kansas and Toto - who’ve adopted names from the film, Elton John had the huge 70’s album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, America recorded a track called 'Tin Man' and Elvis Costello’s first hit single was 'Red Shoes'. And that’s just for starters?

There are equally as many bizarre and macabre tales from the making of The Wizard of Oz: the apparent shot in the film where there is supposed to be one of the Munchkin actors hanging from a tree on the set; this one seems to have been totally refuted. Or the legendary and mythical stories of the shenanigans (bacchanalian orgies) that went on at the one-time holiday camp where the huge number of actors and actresses who played the Munchkins stayed while filming, bused to the movie set every day.

I haven’t actually tried The Dark Side Of The Rainbow movie/CD experiment; I can’t explain why not? Maybe it feels like one of those ideas when, as kids, you’d muck around with a ouija board or played the parlour game, Murder In The Dark; it always ended in tears.

But the idea captures the imagination does it not? The still-living members of Pink Floyd have been interviewed ad nauseum and vehemently deny that there was any such planning or thought about The Wizard of Oz when they made and recorded the album in 1971. 35 million copies (and still counting) sold worldwide, it remains the greatest progressive rock album of all time and has been described as “the concept album that started in a kitchen and took over the world.”

The Wizard Of Oz, on the other hand, boasts that “ has been seen by more people than any other entertainment in the history of the world.” WOW!! Two phenomenal pieces of modern day culture that both still hold up well to the scrutiny of today’s light.

Day #30 Tip: Their Must Be A “Call To Adventure”
Each of the screenwriting scholars has a different term for it - Linda Aronson calls it the “disturbance”, Robert McKee refers to it as the “Inciting Incident, and to Christopher Vogler, it is the “Call To Adventure”, the second stage of his 12-part “Hero’s Journey”.

Whatever it is, it’s the dramatic moment, usually very early on in the film/screenplay, where the Protagonist’s life is knocked out of balance to the positive (+) or negative (-). From this moment on, the protagonist (or protagonists) will spend the rest of the story (the film), questing to restore balance to their life. I've talked about the Inciting Incident before, but I just wanted to point out the idea that there are differents words or phrases used for this and that the screenwriter neesd to be au fait with them all. Plus, I wanted to re-iterate the idea; hammer that nail in.

In Titanic, a Love Story (the sinking of the ocean liner, amazingly, is actually a subplot), the Inciting Incident (as is always the case in a Love Story or Romantic Comedy) is when boy meets girl: Jack is on the lower deck sketching, he looks up from steerage to where the first class passengers promenade on the upper deck and sees Rose (check out her lighting and framing in this shot: how Jack sees her). Rose sees Jack and they look at each other in “that way” that men and women look at each other. Their lives have been knocked out of balance, to an ironic mix of positive and negative. Positive in that they now are on a quest for each other’s heart, negative in that both of their circumstances make this impossible; love will have to be a mighty conqueror to win the day here.

Things can get a little more complexed, at least in LA Confidential they do. This neo-noir detective story has three Protagonists, all of whose lives are knocked out of balance by the crime that is “the Nite Owl massacre”. Their individual subplots begin before this, but the Central Crime plot that is a “call to adventure” for the three of them, starts here.

But “we’re not in Kanasa anymore Toto”, so.....

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has run away from home to stop Miss Gulch from destroying her dog Toto. On advice from Professor Marvel (Vogler would call him a Mentor figure), Dorothy hurries back to the farm. Then the cyclone hits and transports Dorothy and Toto away, dropping them down in the “merry old land of Oz”. Her life has been knocked out of balance to the positive, negative or both? Rent the DVD and decide for yourself, it’s still a wonderful film, rich with symbolism, especially the significance of colours: yellow, emerald, ruby and the rainbow.

Some years ago, I was going through a dark night of the soul (not moon or rainbow) and was paying regular visits to my Homoeopath, Peter Tumminello (my very own Mentor figure). This coincided with me struggling on a film script. Peter soon found the key remedy for me was ruby. In fact, in his book, Twelve Jewels, a work about gemstones as homoeopathic remedies, I am the anonymous case study under the chapter on Ruby.

All Dorothy had to do was tap her magic ruby slippers together three times to get her home. Ruby was also the conduit for me to finding m way “home”. Spooky, symbolic or something else?

I'm off to lay down in a dark room and listen to some "prog".

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