Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another Reason I Love the Internet

“Allah be praised! I’ve invented the zero!”
“What’s that?”
“Nothing, nothing.”

The above quote is from a segment of the wonderful short film, Why Man Creates, which I saw first in elementary school and then again in high school. Although I never knew much about the film and can’t even claim to have understood it all that well, I never forgot it.

Recently I found a review of Why Man Creates during a spur-of-the-moment Internet search. And as I read quotes such as the following, I wanted to shout: “Oh, yes, I remember that!”

In “A Parable” a ping pong ball is created in a ping pong ball factory, proves too high a jumper to fit in with all the other ping pong balls, is disposed of on the street, despairs, recovers, joyously bounces into traffic and across a busy intersection, finds a park where other discarded ping pong balls live, then bounces into the sky, never to seen again. The sequence concludes:
There are some who say he’s coming back and we have to wait ...
There are some who say he burst up there because ball was not meant to fly ...
And there are some who maintain he landed safely in a place where balls bounce high ...

But what stood out for me the most was the following quote:

Why Man Creates was frequently screened in elementary and high school classrooms across the United States throughout the late 1960s and much of the 1970s. Many adults who were schoolchildren during this time have extremely fond memories of Bass’s film.

Oh, yes.

Until I read that article I had no idea who Saul Bass was or that he designed titles for films such as the Hitchcock classics Psycho, North by Northwest and Vertigo. Thanks to the Internet, now I know. I also know something else: I am going to buy myself a DVD of Why Man Creates for my next birthday. I’ve missed that fantastic film and wanted to see it again for ages.

Heck, why wait all the way till spring? Maybe I’ll get it for Hanukkah.

UPDATE: Watch the famous segment of the film, “The Edifice,” here. It is a brief animated history of the world, very cleverly and delightfully done.

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