Sunday, 18 January 2009

Ishu Patel "The Bead Game"

The Sunday Classic
The Bead Game
Ishu Patel
Mankind for all its strengths and talents is a source of wonder and bafflement. Ishu Patel’s exquisitely made The Bead Game (1977) commences with a variety of coloured beads, forming into an assortment of shifting creatures that each devours the succeeding and equally magnificent creature. From the first single cell that divides itself, the view of nature is remorsely destructive. By the end of the first minute these simple organisms have formed more sophisticated beings though the tenor of the piece remains the same. Crustacean devour jelly fish and are in turn are digested by a fish, to be preyed upon by a crocodile until one progresses through the evolutionary scale to encompass birds with gorgeous plumage but an equally voracious appetite. Inexorably the creatures become ever more intelligent with no diminution in their destructive tendencies. Ape evolves to man, and Ishu launches himself into a history from Greek warriors to the atomic bomb, all doomed to destroy the other. It would be an exercise in slapping oneself in the face were it not for the beauty of the movie. Imagine watching a glorious fireworks display of an intelligence of theme and form impossible for any professional pyrotechnician, all accompanied by an intricate percussive soundtrack that reinforces the visual display. Plumage, scales, swords, holocaust, the atom. Mankind the builder of magnificent buildings creates his own supernova and our universe explodes in a gloriously beautiful spectacle. All achieved by Ishu’s ability to shape red, yellow and white beads. Mankind, suggests Ishu, is a more sophisticated organism than the single cell but has learnt nothing. A classic and must-see part of one's animation library. Biography: "Born in Gujarat, India, Ishu Patel graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda and completed his graduate studies in Visual Communicationat the National Institute of Design, India, and advanced Graphic Design at Allegemeine Gewerbschule in Switzerland. A Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship brought him to the National Film Board of Canada." (Ishu's website) He taught Experimental Animation and Production at the University of Southern California leaving in 2001 to run his own company. He has an extensive catalogue of work for such as Channel 4 here in the UK, NHK in Japan and even the French language segments for Sesame Street, the subject of yesterday's post. His contemporary work for television commercials is eye-catching, judged for instance by last September's post on Moondust, for United Airlines. Ishu's acclaimed work includes Afterlife (1978), Paradise (1984) and Divine Fate (1993).

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