I am interested in these awards, not because of who wins or why. Sure we all have our favourites, but the more we celebrate when someone we value is recognised, the more we endorse this notion of a competition. A competition in the arts?
No, I’m interested because I study introspection in film, and there is no more obvious and consistent event than this show about shows, this story about storymaking and the people involved. The entrance of the players has become a sort of performance in itself, only the actual awards seem to have escaped as we must suffer through each recipient’s list of people they are obligated to mention. Its a puzzling phenomenon why this occurs: the persons judged by the world as the most able to convey stories that matter — and we end up with such dreary speeches, mostly.
But its the show, right? Well, this show really was something unusual. As Jackman said is more “Show” than “Business”. I am sure he was parroting a decision made by the Academy based on their plummeting ratings. Regardless of the reason, the retread was welcome by me.
There were three notable elements, four if you count the pretty wonderful Busby Berkeley inspired production number that Jackman led. Two of them had to do with the stage, the physical stage itself. Since spending time in the Globe and discovering the magic of stage geometry all over again, I appreciated these and am a bit in wonder at the sophistication of the designer, who I understand is Joe Celli.
He designed a massive halo curtain of glittering crystals. I have no idea what something like this costs and what happens to the crystals. It must have been really impressive in the physical space because of the multispectral quality of refracted light. Elsewhere, I’ve written of the quality of snow and early theatre screens. They have this presentation of scintillating colours that appears white but has an inner life, an inner texture. I would have travelled to LA just to experience this, which probably was better without the celebrities.
The other thing they did spatially was to design a stage that repurposes the performance geometry on which the Globe theater was based, the “Globe” of religious performance that Michelangelo created in Saint Peter’s Square (where the Pope does his celebrity performance — in fact this is also the origin of the red carpet).
There is a yet to be appreciated pentagonal quasicrystal structure there, something that is tied deeply to notions of presence and being. I’m certain that they did not integrate this design into other elements of the show except as mentioned below. But it is a pretty extraordinary statement.
Where they did integrate this five-fold symmetry was in the most extraordinary design change in the actual award presentations. For each of the five nominees for important statues, they presented five previous winners, each of whom “presented” the nominee. They were placed on this floor-stage design in almost a significant way. I think perhaps the designer had them where it mattered. But they were relocated so that the five large screens behind them could be captured better in the focal frame of the three sailing cameras. Something of shame. But the intent is amazingly, wonderfully, intelligently clear.
Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Australians! What else is there?
Posted in 2009
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.