The magic of literature caught on film — at last!
This being a holiday weekend, combined with my personal vow to not write another word about Sarah Palin if I can help it, I’ve had to range all the way to New Zealand for today’s topic. But the trip, I assure you, was worth it. At the end: an amazing short film that visualizes the magic that happens when you get caught up in a good book.
You can find the film, Going West, on YouTube and other sites, but let’s give credit where due, and watch it at the New Zealand Book Council‘s website.
I can only conclude that the New Zealand Book Council, which promotes reading in general and Kiwi literature in particular, must be one of the most effective reading advocacy groups in the world. This two minute film, produced by the creative team of Line and Martin Andersen, a London design studio, for the Kiwi advertising firm Colenso BBDO, is essentially a commercial for reading.
But what a commercial! Using stop-motion animation, it takes the pages of a book as the visual medium to illustrate the way images arise in a mind fully engaged in immersive reading. A voice-over reads a passage from Maurice Gee’s 1992 book, Going West. As Thom Geier remarked on Entertainment Weekly‘s Shelf-Life blog, “Try doing that with a Kindle!”
I’m anti-Kindle, too. The codex — the traditional bound book — is a perfect technology, one that cannot be improved upon for portability, functionality and durability. As I’ve said here, elsewhere and often, something essential–some aesthetic magic, conjured out of the feel and smell of paper– is lost when the printed word is converted to pixels. And yes, you could probably free up scads of wall space by downloading the books on my shelves into a single hand-held device, but, hey, some of us like books as an interior design motif.
But that doesn’t mean the New Zealand Book Council shares my old-fashioned disdain for reading books on electronic devices. In 2008, the council enlisted Colenso to build a Windows XP clone that allowed people to read books at work without arising boss suspicion — it looked like a Power Point presentation. Apparently technology has passed it by, though. Readatwork.com no longer seems to be functioning site.
But what a great idea. Even if it was only a publicity stunt to draw attention to books and reading — that’s my suspicion — it goes to show how inventive those Kiwis can be. Maybe I’ll hunt out some New Zealand writers. If the advertising agencies are this good, maybe the novelists are, too.
I suppose I should start with Maurice Gee, who I admit I never heard of before yesterday. Apparently he’s one of New Zealand’s most distinguished writers. I’d say that represents a job well done by the New Zealand Book Council.