Thursday, 30 September 2010

La Belle et la bête aka, Beauty and the Beast (1946)

This movie is adapted from the famous fairytale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. Most people like me mainly associate The Beauty and the Beast with the 1991 animated Walt Disney version directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, so I was curious to see this version.
Crossing the forest one night a recently ruined merchant comes across a huge creepy castle and takes refuge there. When leaving he steels a flower from a rose bush for his daughter Belle. The beast who resides at the castle catches him and gives him two choices, his life or the life of one of his daughters. Belle, feeling responsible decides to sacrifice herself to the beast. When Belle arrives at the castle she discovers that the beast doesn’t want to kill her, he wants to marry her. He will not force her but will ask every day until she says yes. At first she vows to never say yes, but over time she begins to see through the beast’s grotesque exterior into his kind sole.

This movie is very surreal and dreamlike in tone and the visuals are fantastic. My favourite parts are the sequences inside the beast’s castle with the creepy candlestick arms and the statues that move and stare coldly. One scene that is especially striking is when we see Belle almost gliding through the halls of the castle. The film reminded me of German expressionist films like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922). Those films seem to use lighting, shadow and strange sets in a similar way. Mark Born from the sums up the movie pretty well by saying Cocteau dazzles us with such dreamlike imagery, painterly compositions, and (some say) potent sexual subtleties that Beauty and the Beast achieves a fusion of cinema artistry rarely duplicated since.”

A downside to this movie I can think of is the fact that the story is over familiar. This obviously isn’t the fault of the movie makers but it did slow it down for me. I always found the ending to this story a bit shallow anyway. The beauty can only love the beast once he completely changes and turns hansom, what kind of moral is that? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if he still looked like a beast but she loved him anyway? Thankfully the movie Shrek fixed this story in 2001.

Cat People (1942)

"A Kiss Could Change Her Into a Monstrous Fang-and-Claw Killer!"

Cat People (1942) Directed by Jacques Tourneur, tells the story of an American man (Oliver Reed) who marries a Serbian immigrant (Irena) who fears she will turn into a cat person from her homelands fable stories if they are intimate together. 
I was looking forward to seeing this movie because I have heard a lot about how much it has influenced the horror genre. Watching it it’s easy to see why as James Rolfe said in a video for Cinimassica’s monster madness series “this was one of the first films to realize that what you don’t see is often scarier than what you do see” Some examples I can think of that use this idea are monster movies like Alien (1979) and Jaws (1975), we don’t see the monster clearly until the last half hour or so.   
One of the most effective scenes in the movie is the famous bus scene.  One of the characters is stalked through central park then a bus comes out of nowhere to make the audience jump out of there skin. Unfortunately I had seen the scene before and knew what was going to happen but it’s still very effective. A similar scene can be found in almost every modern horror film with varying degrees of effectiveness. A good example is the sequence near the beginning of An American Werewolf in London (1981), were two protagonists are stalked by an unseen threat. Then just when you feel safe the Werewolf strikes out of nowhere.  

Another fascinating thing about this movie is the way they have used light and shadow. There is a great scene outside the Irena’s apartment where we see bars projected over the windows with shadow. This symbolizes a cage like the one we saw a panther in at the beginning of the film.

There is a lot of symbolism and subtext in this film that hint at its sexual undertones. There are a huge amount of differing opinions concerning this movies subtext.  One opinion is that the movie is about the outsider in America, IMDB user Balok-2 says “I don't think that you can find a more stereotypical square-jawed All-American Boy than Kent Smith. He even eats apple pie every time he's in the restaurant!”, then he goes on to talk about how Irena comes along and entices him away from the right girl, and she will never fit in and be a real American
I personal found the subtext of the movie to be an outdated very 1940’s message about sexual purity with a Christian undertone. I say Christian because I seem to remember lots of crucifix symbols and bible quotes. I could be totally wrong but that’s just my initial impression.

Regardless of the subtext I did really like this movie. Although the acting is a bit clunky and dated in places some scenes feel almost modern. It’s hard not to appreciate this film especially when you think of all the movies that it’s influenced.
One last point that I found fascinating was that producer Val Lewton was just given the title Cat People by the studio and asked to build a movie around it. I guess the end result was far different to what the studio people had in mind.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


I have created a 3d image of some dice in Maya by following the tutorial instructions. I had a few minor problems at the beginning with the gridding because i didn’t know how to delete unwanted lines. Overall it went fairly smoothly and I now have a vague understanding of how Maya works.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Earwig Top & Side View

Foot Study Drawings

I had the same problem as with my hand study drawings. I need to use stronger tones in order to emphasize the muscles, bones and ligaments.  

Hand Study Drawings

I have made a few study drawings of my hands in various poses. I have attempted to suggest muscle and bone under the skin using tone. Unfortunately I think that I have been a bit soft with my shading so this doesn’t come through as much as I would like.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Life Drawing

Sorry this is a bit late. I had some problems with my camera.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Miscellaneous Concept Work

This is a selection of concept work done for my first year and in my spare time.

The Earwig Man

Uncanny Nightmare

The Attic

Whale Creature

Thing From Beyond 

Cthulhu Spawn

Lovecraftien Nightmare


Wilbur in the Womb

The Fly (1986)

“I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.”
Seth Brundle

In this version of The Fly directed by David Cronenberg the basic premise is the same as the 1958 version. An eccentric scientist invents a teleportation device and mistakenly splices himself with a fly. In this movie the scientist Seth Brundle is transformed gradually into the creature. With the use of incredible makeup effects and animatronics we see Brundle slowly eaten away by the horrific infection.  
Fly Transformation Stages
I was convinced that this movie was a cultural metaphor for the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s so I was surprised when I discovered this was not Cronenberg’s intention (although he accepts the interpretation).
"If you, or your lover, has AIDS, you watch that film and of course you'll see AIDS in it, but you don't have to have that experience to respond emotionally to the movie and I think that's really its power...This is not to say that AIDS didn't have an incredible impact on everyone and of course after a certain point people were seeing AIDS stories everywhere so I don't take any offense that people see that in my movie. For me, though, there was something about The Fly story that was much more universal to me: aging and death--something all of us have to deal with."- David Cronenberg
I find this surprising because the AIDS metaphor fits so perfectly with the sexual undertones in the film. The creature in the movie is far more sophisticated than the original. The original is basically a man with a flies head this one however is not recognisable as a man or fly “Am I becoming a hundred-and-eighty-five-pound fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming... Brundlefly”- Seth Brundle. They have also applied fly like attributes to the creature for example, the way it twitches is neck and throws up acid onto its food to digest it. The movie is full of horrific and disgusting moments that are mostly necessary to convey the horror of the situation. The only violent part I found was unnecessary and a bit silly was the arm wrestling scene, it just didn’t seem possible to me.
This movie is great! Dark, gory, twisted fun for the whole family.   

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Fly (1958) Kurt Neumann

The Fly (1958) directed by Kurt Neumann and based on the short story by George Langelaan is a classic story about a science experiment gone wrong, very wrong. Humble scientist and family man Andre Delambre is the inventor of a teleportation device. After a few failed experiments and possibly sending a cat into space, Andre perfects his machine and decides to test it on himself. Andre is apparently not a very careful scientist as he fails to notice that a Fly is in the pod with him. When he teleports his molecules get all messed up with the fly, and he emerges a hideous hybrid. This makes me wonder why he didn’t also merge with his clothing, o well it’s not important.

We don’t actually see the accident, and we don’t see the fly creatures face until near the end of the movie. He keeps a sheet over his head and only communicates with letters and banning on tables. This is an effective way to build anticipation. I personally couldn’t wait to see the fly head even if it was cheesy as hell. The only way Andre can be turned back is to capture the fly and go through the teleport with it again. He’s wife, son and house maid come close to catching the fly but it escapes somehow. Seriously how hard is it to catch a fly? As a last resort, in order to prevent this mistake happening again, and to stop the fly taking over his mind Andre destroys his work. He then politely asks his wife to brutally murder him using a giant vice to crush his head.  She dose as requested.

Most of the movie is actually told in flashback so we end up back were we started just after Andre’s death. The movie ends with the authorities about to arrest Andre’s wife for murder. However the Fly who caused all the trouble turns up again caught in a spider’s web and about to be eaten. A detective crushes the creature with a rock and Andre’s wife is pardoned. This sequence struck me funny when I first watched it, but I can easily see how in the 50s it might have been fairly disturbing.

I was looking forward to seeing this movie because I am a fan of the David Cronenberg 1986 remake, and had never seen the original. Overall I really enjoyed this movie, I know it’s cheesy and dated but that added to my enjoyment more than it detracted. I also found the story genuinely engaging and suspenseful. Another great thing about this movie is that it rarely resorts to cliché; we never see the creature on a rampage like most monster movies. The theme of science and responsibility is timeless just look at Jurassic Park (1993).
In conclusion this movie is more than a little dated, but very enjoyable if you’re in the right state of mind.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a science fiction novel written in 1896 by H.G. Wells. It tells the story of a man named Edward Perndick who becomes stranded on an Island. On this island the titular character Dr. Moreau is discovered performing horrific experiments in vivisection. It is revealed that the basic objective of these experiments is to transform animals in humans. But this fails they always retain some animalistic traits so Moreau sends most of them away to the forest (some he keeps as servants). The grotesque human/animal hybrids have formed an almost fundamentalist religious society within the islands woodland. They reject and repress their animal instincts this is because of a law that Moreau has installed into them. Despite this the creature’s behaviour over time becomes more and more beastly. I felt this was some kind of allegory for the way our various religions, ideologies and vales are designed to repress our own animal instincts in the same way.

This book was written at a time when there was a lot of debate going on in the British scientific community about animal vivisection. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (who are still active today) was formed two years after the novels publication. Many people believe the book inspired the creation of the BUAV.

The hybrid animals in the book are interesting because they are not spliced with humans. They are made purely of animal flesh but have been surgically reconstructed to resemble humans. Unfortunately there were obviously no insect based creatures only mammals.

There have been 3 film adaptations of the novel. Unfortunately I have not seen any of them, not yet anyway.

The Island of Lost Souls (1932)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1977)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1996) 

Sunday, 19 September 2010


I have made a few study sketches of various parts of the earwig’s anatomy using the images I have collected. 


Useful diagrams relating to earwig anatomy.

 Female Earwig With Wings Spread

Life Cycle of a Male Earwig
Male Earwig External Morphology

More Earwig Images

Following Simons suggestion I have found some fascinating electron microscope images of Earwigs.


Eye Closer


Abdominal Section

Anntenae Closer

More Legs