Thursday, 28 November 2013

Snapvideo. Baileys Christmas Nutcracker ...

I am a massive fan of Christmas and everything to do with it; hot chocolate with friends in warm cafes while it is snowing outside, walking around the city looking up at the lit streets and the big, heavily decorated tree at the town square, going into every single Christmas section in all Department stores in London (although we all know Liberty takes the crown), dressing (and stressing) on New Years Eve because you have nothing red to wear, or just nothing at all... The only thing I've never gotten quite exicted about are Christmas Adverts. There have been some beautiful ones here in Spain for the Nougat and the Lottery but this year we've just gone down to the pit where there's no return (I won't even show you the adverts because I am THAT embarrassed). Anyway, when my friend Lizzy (we share ballet-mania together) told me about this year's Baileys advert, I got my hopes up. And it didn't dissapoint. 

The spot is directed by Ringan Ledwidge and features the Royal Ballet stars Steven McRae, Thiago Soares and Iana Salenko. The choreography was the work of Benjamin Millepied (Natalie Portman's husband) who also worked in Black Swan. Set designer is Sarah Greenwood (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) 

From the outset, they wanted emotion to drive the story. "What Benjamin and I talked about from the start is that the emotion of the story has always got to be the driving force, and the motivation for what the camera does and what the dancers do" explains Ledwidge. 
Millepied is familiar with working in advertising both as a dancer (he appeared in a recent Air France ad) and as a choreographer and director. "What I like about the chance of making these short films is you have a very short period of time, a very focused period of time, to be able to tell a story and make everything work, which is an incredible challenge" he says. "Also having the command of what the viewer actually sees; on stage I make work that everyone sees from the audience. Here I can control the image. I think it's one step further into really understading what I do"

Ledwidge also defined how the set and the costumes for the ad would look. "The great think was Ringan had a very strong vision, which was fantastic, his brief was very distinct", says set designer Sarah Greenwood. "There could be something barroque about it", continues Greenwood, "there could be something urban about it, there could be something like a speakeasy about it. It's an amazing after party, or an after-after party".

The style extended naturally into the costumes too, which were designed by Ledwidge's long-time collaborator Rosa Dias. "You've got romance, but interpreted in an urban kind of way" she says of the look they were going for. "It's still very edgy, yet romantic. That's what I tried to do with the girls as well, even Clara's dress, I wanted it to have the romantic, ethereal qualities but also to be torn and distressed. A little bit punk, an element of punkiness". 

Girl walks into a bar, locks eyes with boy, they start dancing... and The Mouse King interrupts. A fight breaks and, of course, the girl ends up beating the bad boy and walking away with the girls. Just a casual night out. Anyway, if you hadn't thought of watching The Nutcracker this Christmas, I hope this advert sparked your curiosity. In London, you have the English National Ballet and, of course, The Royal Ballet, each with their own version. 

Here is the final advert and a video of the making of.



Monday, 25 November 2013

Articles. Sylvia Plath, The Multitudinous Woman ...

Today, I bought the Spanish magazine Vanidad. I usually don't purchase the hard print copy but look through their website. They have great contents and interviews about fashion, music, cinema and arts in general. In a section named Ojalá Siguiera Viva, meaning "Wishing she was still alive",  this month's chosen figure was Sylvia Plath. Of course, this brought all kinds of memories about her book "The Bell Jar" and the adaptation I was part of at University earlier this year. You can see a bit more here and here. Apart from being a good piece of biographical writing, it also brings to attention her feminist labour and how she became an icon representing women who wanted more from life apart from cleaning, cooking and having children. I have tried to translate it as correctly and faithfully as possible.
Para los lectores españoles, podéis leer el artículo completo aquí.

After sealing the door and kitchen windows with wet towels, she put her head in the oven. Carbon monoxide did the rest. She was 30 years old and had two children. She was called Sylvia Plath. This year is the half-century anniversary of the poet, one of the great icons of American popular culture. Her only novel, “The Bell Jar”, published a month before her suicide, appears in the hands of characters like Lisa Simpson, the witch Sabrina and Rory from “Gilmore Girls”.  “Sylvia Plath, an interesting poetess whose tragic suicide was interpreted as romantic by the college girl’s mindset” says Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) while holding in his hands a copy of “Ariel” in his first visit to Annie Hall’s (Diane Keaton) apartment. In 2001, Ryan Adams published a song called “Sylvia Plath” from the album “Gold”. In 2003 Gwyneth Paltrow gives life to the poet in the film “Sylvia”. In 2009, Lady Gaga quotes her in her song “Dance in the Dark”. This month it is published in USA a volume devoted exclusively to the drawings done by Sylvia. Cursed poet, good girl, pioneer of feminism, model for teen magazines, romantic suicidal housewife…

Sylvia Plath held many of the elements that fascinate restless minds, and many minds, unfortunately, are only restless during adolescence. When she finally suicide, in her London home in 1963, she was a housewife who wrote at dawn, before her children woke up. She prepared food, took them to the park… She had been abandoned by her husband, poet Ted Hughes, who left her for another poet Assia Wevill (who also committed suicide sticking her head in an oven). Put Plath, chronically depressed, had already tried twice before.
Born in Boston in 1932, Sylvia lived a happy childhood that disappeared at age eight, when her father Otto died.” I will never talk to God again” she said then. At age 11 she began a journal that she’d never abandon. It recounts her life at Smith College, a school for girls where men could not go to the first floor and where girls especially dressed for dinner. Sylvia received an award from the women’s magazine “Mademoiselle” which enabled her to spend a month in New York. There she experienced a tension that never was resolved: to be an American good girl, who posed Betty Garble style on a swimsuit and was obliged to please men, or become an intellectual who broke with the destiny patriarchy had chosen for her. The same dilemma was lived by thousands of women, young and old, who saw themselves reflected in Plath’s work and also in her life. 

On the way back from New York, after disappearing for three days and making it to the papers, made maybe into the first it girl in history, she tried to take her life. “This has been my last act of love” she said then. After passing through a Psychiatric facility and receiving electroshock therapy, Sylvia recovered and traveled on a scholarship to Cambridge. There she met the man of her life, Ted Hughes. They started writing poems to each other and Sylvia started exposing her innermost anxieties in her verses, “confessional poetry”. They married in 1956 and came back to the States. They had two children, Frieda and Nicholas. The latter became an eminent zoologist. In 2009, he committed suicide.
Back to Sylvia. In September 1962, on her way back to UK, she discovers her husband’s infidelity. The poet suffers a car accident, a second attempt at suicide. She survives and writes “Ariel”, one of her masterpieces, who many consider “ a long suicide note”. Sylvia found her death a year later and her fame began to grow. Her story made such an impact that it gave life to the “Sylvia Plath effect”, a term coined in 2011 by the psychologist James C. Kaufman to describe the tendency to mental illness in certain types of writers.

Sylvia Plath died a victim of a decision which changed her life: she was forced to choose one way of being a woman. She voiced the alarm about this silent form of male oppression. Fortunately, today more and more women can choose what and how they want to be, and can do so without excluding any of the facets which constitute the intimate reason of being a diamond.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Edge of Love. Costumes...

The Edge of Love tells the story of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and the two most important women in his life, Vera Phillips and Caitlin Thomas. It might not be the best historically-correct movie ever written (the affair between Thomas and Phillips was never confirmed) but it is enhanced for dramatic purposes. However, the 1940s costume design is beautiful and well researched. Designer April Ferry (Maverick, 1994) said this about the costumes: My inspiration for the clothes came from many sources but the most important one was the director, John Maybury. Dresses and wellies were his idea and that defines the most important look of the film. I studied all the books on Dylan Thomas's life and looked at all the available pictures of him and his associates. There is wonderful research of that era in London. I immersed myself in as much as I could collect".
Personally, I love the swift change from the glamorous, night dresses mixed with uniforms of London to the countryside in Wales, full of knitwear, wellies and floral dresses.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Snapshots. India #3 ...

"Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. Amore or Pyar makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for seconds, eyes of man and woman meet"
-Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Snapshots. India #2 ...

"May in India is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun"
- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things