aprosaicpintofpisces

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    6

    Digital De-Aging and Resurrection: Its History and the Long-Term Implications for the Film Industry

    Digital de-aging has been around in the film industry for some time now, but its use has increased substantially as CGI technology continues to improve. Age-acceleration is also used, but winding back the clock instead is usually the more difficult feat to pull off well. What was once laughably unconvincing has now become an eerily good imitation. Instead of relying on younger actors to portray popular characters in flashback scenes, one can simply strip away the wrinkles and keep the visuals of the original actors intact. Think of a de-aged Johnny Depp for flashbacks of his character Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales or Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones in the recent Dial of Destiny film, for example. Beyond that, one can digitally resurrect lost talent whether their deaths were abruptly in the midst of shooting a film or they passed away long ago (and never would’ve imagined such technology could exist). When Carrie Fisher unexpectedly passed, existing footage was apparently salvaged and cobbled together with CGI to fill in the gaps to reproduce Princess Leia for The Rise of Skywalker film. For a Dove Chocolate commercial, a likeness of deceased Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn was used. Give some examples of films that successfully handled digital de-aging or resurrection as well as others that missed the mark. What went wrong and what went right? Before this technology was ever imagined and accessible, how did films handle the aging and deaths of actors? What does this mean for the future of the film industry, in terms of actors and production companies, etc.?

    • I think this is a fascinating idea. I've seen a lot of dislike around the use of this technology for 'resurrections' as you call it, with some feeling it's disrespectful, and feels a little dystopian (even in death, some cannot escape their jobs, and are puppeted without their say. A little melodramatic, but understandably so). Others are worried what it means for smaller actors - if you can just use someone's likeness, will we need real actors? Voice actors for audiobooks have expressed concerns over people using AI voices instead of more expensive voice actors, so some do worry we could end up with something similar happening in the film industry. This may be beyond the scope of a single article, but it's certainly an interesting topic. – AnnieEM 8 months ago
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    6

    True History of the Kelly Gang: Motherhood and Masculinity

    In the film True History of the Kelly Gang, a fictional take on the outlaw Ned Kelly’s life, relations between Britain and members of the Commonwealth (in this case, Australia and Ireland in the 1870s) play a central role. Themes of displacement begin with Ned’s Irish-born parents’ (especially his mother’s) sense of alienation in Australia and distaste for anything that reeks of British influence. This feeling continues with Ned’s propulsion into the role of “man of the house” when his father dies and then when his mother secretly attempts to sell him into servitude for some quick money. Derision of authority figures partially stems from forced separation from or abandonment by one’s home (whether it is one’s country or familial circle).

    In connection with relations between nations of different power dynamics, gender plays an important role here as well. Despite the reluctance to perform an expected role, there is a strong male desire to be powerful enough to defend female honor from outsiders (i.e. the sexual exploitation of Ned’s mother and sister) that culminates in the Kelly Gang’s string of police-related murders. Ned is encouraged to “Die a Kelly” and give up his own life for his mother, even if it is at the expense of his unborn child and its mother. Ned’s entry into gang life begins as a “Son of Sieve,” an Irish rebel who dons overtly feminine dresses into battle to appear crazy and, therefore, more frightening. By the end of the film, in contrast, Ned Kelly is finally captured after wearing heavy, uber-masculine “bulletproof” armor in a gunfight that results in the bloody massacre of his men.

    What connections are made in the film between male and female dynamics and Britain’s relationship to members of the Commonwealth? How does simultaneous suicidal devotion to a reigning power and an internal aversion to fighting someone else’s battle with the promise of little to no personal benefit play out? What does the film have to say about these opposing tensions and their consequences within this fictionalized depiction of Ned Kelly?

      7

      Books Without Blessings: The Watch and Discworld

      The recent BBC America production, The Watch, has received polarized reactions. It is inspired by characters from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book series, though it does not claim to be a direct adaptation. If one alienates the people who are already self-proclaimed fans of a certain work, where can one go from there? How important is the original author’s or family estate’s approval of an adaptation for a TV show or movie to be considered successful? Sometimes deviations allow for greater artistic license, but it can come at the cost of bearing little resemblance to the original source material and turning off the already-established fanbase. Alternatively, when sticking closely to the source material, it can attract a large number of people who are already invested in the characters and storylines but may also lead to sanitization and excessive caution in an effort to preserve the work’s and the author’s existent legacy. There are also legal issues to be considered here. Sometimes the difference can be a result of ownership (or lack thereof) of the author’s estate/works. One could examine The Watch’s resemblance and departure from the Discworld series and/or other similar ventures and their outcomes.

        8

        Exploring the Nom de Plume

        What causes someone to choose a "nom de plume" ("pen name")? While living in the Internet age, most people are completely comfortable with the idea of identifying themselves online with names other than those they were born with (i.e. usernames). When it comes to writers, the Brontë sisters all used male pseudonyms in order for their work to be taken more seriously. J.K. Rowling was encouraged to hide her sex when the Harry Potter series was initially published because it was feared young boys would not read her work otherwise. Later, J.K. Rowling herself disguised her world-famous name with the pseudonym "Robert Galbraith" when she departed from Harry Potter-related works. However, it is not only women who take up a "pen name." Lewis Caroll, Mark Twain, and George Orwell are just some examples of this. Much like a "stage name" can serve to reinvent oneself into a more exciting character than one’s birth name would initially suggest, what are the myriad reasons for which authors choose nom de plumes? What do they seek to change or perhaps maintain? Have the reasons for pen names changed over time? If so, how?

        • Hi, I'm not trying to steal your thunder, but I made a very similar topic suggestion a while back: https://the-artifice.com/whats-in-a-non-de-plume/ Might be worth combining both topic suggestions, as we essentially ask the same questions. – Amyus 3 years ago
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        5

        Morality and Disclaimers

        This is a topic that could apply to either movies or television. Disclaimers range in purpose. Sometimes they exist in order to lessen chances of physical discomfort in the audience (and thus potential lawsuits), as with seizure warnings for flashing lights (i.e. a scene in Incredibles 2) or motion sickness warnings with 3D or IMAX films. Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was flagged for its graphic depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion. However, disclaimers have extended their reach beyond the physical realm into the psychological.

        For instance, the ratings system that differentiates between what is appropriate for certain age groups can sometimes be misleading. Often in preface to cast and crew interviews, there is a text that states “the views and opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not represent those of [insert company name here].” When the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why first premiered, there was controversy it would romanticize and therefore increase the likelihood of suicide in tweens and teens. When Joker was released, there was a fear that burgeoning mass shooters would be emboldened by the film’s protagonist into taking the law into their own hands. Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was banned because of its depictions of hedonistic violence.

        Just recently, the classic Gone with the Wind was briefly removed from HBO Max and then reinstated with disclaimers for fear of its depictions of the antebellum South. Disclaimers step in as “gatekeepers” of sorts, where films or T.V. shows must pass a certain purity “litmus test” to gauge not only their potential offensiveness to audiences but their ability to corrupt their audience’s minds. In what ways does this “moral panic” manifest itself in the form of media disclaimers? The threat of exploring or even simply acknowledging so-called “dangerous ideas” is oft-treaded territory, such as with George Orwell’s notions of ”groupthink.” How does the struggle to protect an unsuspecting audience devolve into a form of thought control? In what ways have such disclaimers proved beneficial?

        • So would some of these cases (like 13 Reasons Why) deal directly with the idea of having trigger warnings? Also, I feel that the controversy surrounding Joker was completely overblown. Much of the controversy/discourse occurred before the film had even been released, where many were reacting to trailers, rumors, and pre-release descriptions. Once the film was released, I think the reality of what the film was about/what content was in the film, it was vastly less controversial than what many reported it to be. – Sean Gadus 4 years ago
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        • That's such a great point, Sean! Thank you. Yes, I think people often jump to hasty conclusions when it comes to trailers or pre-release speculations, which can be quite misleading by nature. Trailers and press rumors are designed to build hype in advertising, alert audiences to genre specifics, and entice audiences with just enough information to get them interested. The final film released in its entirety can often be a bit different from how its originally portrayed. – aprosaicpintofpisces 4 years ago
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        • Oooooh, juicy topic indeed! There's a lot you could get into here. Just the question of what's offensive and what isn't, and the dangers of groupthink, could net you a whole article alone. But there are so many other factors. For instance, you could talk about disclaimers meant to protect people with epilepsy and similar conditions, vs. ableism and people who claim the disclaimers ruin the 3-D experience (jerks). You could discuss the fact that Christians will willingly watch Christ brutally flogged, or watch a war movie because "that's how it was," but still frown on violence in other genre films (oh, what I could say...) – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
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        • I agree, Stephanie. The whole notion of "trigger warnings" and what is considered offensive is quite prevalent now. Even more recently, HBO Max has flagged Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles just as it did with Gone with the Wind, despite the fact that Blazing Saddles is considered an overtly satirical comedy. – aprosaicpintofpisces 4 years ago
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        • Good topic. – Diani 3 years ago
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        8
        Published

        The Cinematic Space Odyssey

        Movies such as Gravity, Arrival, or the upcoming Passengers and Life films showcase the persistent human curiosity about outer space and who else (if anyone at all) is out there. We’re no longer in the era of little green men coming to invade the Earth in their silver flying saucers to abduct us or otherwise probe our brains. Cinematically speaking, how has the human vision of extraterrestrial life and exploration changed over the years? How have certain historical landmarks in the space program transformed what moviegoers want and expect to see in outer space-themed films? Has the recent media coverage about a possible mission to Mars in the not-too-distant future shifted the cinematic focus away from an interest in aliens to issues of human evolution/multi-planetary colonization? Is there something else at work here?

        • An interesting topic, for sure. Although I don't have the a very eclectic understanding of science fiction in cinema, I wonder if there has been a shift from the foreign/invading extraterrestrial to a interior extraterrestrial. That is to say, I have always perceived a shift from the flying saucer alien to the kind of alien that takes the form of human; an alien that changes our perception of the human body as human. Movies like Alien (where the alien is born from/comes from the human body) and Invasion of the Body snatchers. One might also consider Men in Black and Under the Skin. What we consider to be alien has, in some instances, become remarkably more human, and I think this would be a fascinating angle to take for this topic. – Dethlefs 7 years ago
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        • The movies tend to change with science. The more things science figures out, and by extension, theories it creates, just add to the writer's creativity. One possible reason earlier movies were more about alien invasions is the fact that humans overestimated the planet's resources. Up until somewhat recently, people thought that we had a great thing going here. Now we see that the planet and its resources are finite, and that we are going to have to leave at some point. Which is why more blockbusters are centered more around space exploration rather than invasions from space. – MikeySheff 7 years ago
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        6

        The Challenges of Writing Second Person Point of View

        Using second person point of view isn’t exactly common when it comes to literature. It often brings to mind "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories, but not likely much else. Novels often seek to put the reader into the protagonist’s shoes so to speak, which second person point of view literally does, so what accounts for its limited use? Examine what puts this type of narrative at a disadvantage compared to the more popular first-person and third-person points of view in novels. What are some examples that make good use of second person point of view and how they successfully navigate its pitfalls and/or subvert its expectations?

        • The first example that comes to mind is Tolstoy's "Sevastopol in December," but you're correct to note its rarity. Epistolary novels can also, to a certain extent, be seen as utilizing second-person narration, since authors of letters are directly addressing an implied reader with a unique identity; this, however, becomes complicated by the commingling of the first-person "I" of the letter-writer and the second-person "you" of the recipient, thus reducing the formal purity of a single focalizing voice. It's interesting that you should bring up interactive narratives, since another possible example in that vein are so-called "first-person" video games. These may be better interpreted as actually being second-person, since the avatar through which the player experiences the game is less of a narrator than a participant à la "Choose Your Own Adventure." The true narrator in such cases is the text which appears on screen to provide instruction to the "you" who experiences the ludonarrative. – ProtoCanon 6 years ago
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        • Here's a recent one--Jemisin's "Broken Earth" series. Of course, it's phrased as being told by someone to someone else, but that's just the frame of it. It never leaves "you," and knows everything. – IndiLeigh 6 years ago
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        • This is something I'd really love to explore. I think often times in writing or English classes we are told not to bother with second person point of view because it's so rarely used and thus, we don't get to learn about it or appreciate it like other view points. – ReidaBookman 6 years ago
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        9

        The Role of Opening Credits

        TV opening credits obviously let viewers know who the main cast is as well as give everyone involved in the process their due. The aesthetics and artwork of each individual show’s credits can also persuade the audience into participation. How do opening credits function depending on what shows one is watching? There are certain shows that begin with catchy themes, eye-catching graphics, or contain "easter egg"-like codes/foreshadowing. There are others which keep the visibility of opening credits to a minimum, perhaps to heighten the realism of the show’s fictional world. How does the nature of certain shows determine the way opening credits are presented to the audience?

        • Approved this, but I was going to say would you be able to add some examples? One that always springs to mind for me is the minimalistic credits for Hannibal – Francesca Turauskis 7 years ago
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        • How about a little bit of comparison and contrast with the opening credits from previous decades? I've notice several old programs that have opening theme songs that the lyrics were actually displayed on the screen as they were sung. – NoDakJack 7 years ago
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        • This would be such a great prompt to expand on--once I get to the point where I can publish articles I may take this on myself! So many nuances and storytelling aspects can be found in a good opening credits sequence. There's so much to talk about! Context clues and interpretation of the cinematography and any song lyrics would be good points to discuss. – RachelHart 7 years ago
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        • Just going to leave this right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG_P_1JnfXI – ProtoCanon 7 years ago
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        • Wonder if there's much of a difference between opening credits and opening titles, but here's a fairly enlightening video by Cinefix i hope you find useful :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8twthdaqB8 – Matchbox 7 years ago
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        • Just a pet theory for filmic opening-credits, but there must be an evolution in length. Perhaps I'm pointing to the obvious, but Hollywood films produced pre-millennium seem much longer than productions after. Watching Kramer vs. Kramer, I realized it was an eon worth of attention span for the generation of viewers today. The opening for some production during earlier periods are an encased vignette telling an encapsulated story. Perhaps viewer patience have been eroded that opening credit structure is susceptible to such pressures. By the way, after watching the opening-credits for Dexter, does anyone crave ham and eggs with a splash of Tapatio? – minylee 7 years ago
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        • To expand on the comparison of opening credits now versus years ago, almost all older movies and tv shows (mid to late 20th century) feature the majority, if not all, credits at the beginning. Now, generally only the main characters are billed at the beginning, with everything else credited at the end. Perhaps you could examine what caused the switch, if anything, and how that has impacted the audience's viewing experience. – Noelle McNeill 7 years ago
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        Latest Comments

        Yes! I always loved their sisterly bond. Jo and Beth can seem like such polar opposites sometimes, but that’s also why they seem to balance each other out so well.

        Reinventing Beth March

        Thank you, Stephanie! Yes, both Coraline and the Other Mother alone are great sources of inspiration. There are a lot of avenues that can be explored with the source material. And that sounds like a cool idea for an article as well!

        Laika and the Power of Eyes: A Soul's Quest for Self-Possession

        Thank you so much! Your comment really made me smile. I’m glad you appreciate it.

        Laika and the Power of Eyes: A Soul's Quest for Self-Possession

        What a lovely compliment, Anne! Thank you so much for your support.

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        Haha! Yeah, that was certainly a memorable “seduction dance” if ever there was one.

        Exploring the Sensual Power of Dance in Cinema

        I’m with you there, omgmaxsmith! Laika films are consistently excellent.

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        Laika and the Power of Eyes: A Soul's Quest for Self-Possession

        Thank you for the lovely comment, E. DeWitt! I truly appreciate the kind words. And yes, I highly recommend watching Kubo and the Two Strings as well.

        Laika and the Power of Eyes: A Soul's Quest for Self-Possession