Sunday, April 13, 2008

I've Added Things To My Birthday Wish List. I Couldn't Find A Pencil So I Added The Last One In Lipstick!

Holly will be six in two weeks and we have done nothing about as yet apart from buying her a DVD of the The Singing Ringing Tree, a film I haven't seen since it was shown sliced into episodes on the BBC back in 1964 (I was 5). It had an evil dwarf, a weird talking fish, a singing ringing tree, a prince that turns into a bear and a petulant Communist princess. It's a movie which, if the reviews and bloggings about it (This is a good one) I found on a short hop around the web are to be believed, traumatised a generation.

I have vivid memories of it 40 years after having seen it. I think Holly is just the right age for it. I do so want her to get the full flavour of the weirdnesses and darknesses of real Fairy Tales. And not just the happy tra-la-la formula Disneyfied versions.

I grew up reading Grimm's Fairy Tales, which are not exactly My Little Barbyland, and having the bejeasus scared out of me by the Daleks on Dr Who (the real Daleks. Not the touchy-feely "Love me, I'm misunderstood." modern Daleks. None of this "We Are The Daleks! What is our motivation in this scene, Duckie? Motivate! Motivate!" Not that kind of Dalek; the real Daleks - evil fucking ruthless evil fucking fucking scary fucking evil things. Nazis in buckets. God! they were scary. I really did used to watch Dr Who from behind the safety of Dalek-proof furniture - though, now I come to think of it, I remember the Cybermen being the ones who really used to put the willies up me*.)

I don't think we scare our kids enough these days.

I was regularly scared - in a controlled and safe way. It was only make believe and it was obviously make believe. As kids we bought into the fantasy of Dr Who. We were willing participants. We could see the dodgy sets were made from stacked milk crates and bubble wrap and we knew all the corridors looked the same because it was the same corridor shot from 100 slightly different angles, and every planet The Doctor landed on looked suspiciously like the same abandoned quarry they filmed in last season, but we knew all that - and we chose to ignore it. We joined in. We could see the strings holding the characters up in Thunderbirds. It didn't stop us clinging to the edges of our seats in excitement. (Thunderbirds you could watch sitting on the Dalek-proof furniture not hiding behind it; Thunderbirds was exciting, not scary). These days, with the advances in CGI, and the increased size of the TV screens, and the fact that what they see on it is in colour - which it wasn't when I were a lad - I worry that my kids won't have that gap to jump. They won't have to actively suspend their disbelief like we did. When everything looks real, where is the space for their imagination?

I'm glad to say that Holly at least seems to be making that jump. I may have rattled on about this before, but some of her favourite videos are things like Chorlton and the Wheelies, The Clangers and Bagpuss. Ancient shows which use (by today's standards) very clumsy stop-motion animation. What they do have however is room for the kids to imagine. And some funny scripts. What they see on the screen in toys coming to life. Real toys, just like theirs.

Stotting around Google looking for The Singing Ringing Tree I also found this:

A sculpture called The Singing Ringing Tree Which lives on a hillside in Burnley Lancs. And very lovely.

*Stop writing your own jokes at the back there.

1 comment:

Charlie Blockhead said...

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