Saturday, August 2, 2008

dancing pigs in charity shops

A few days ago I found the most wonderful book in my local Oxfam about the 1971 ballet film Tales of Beatrix Potter. It contains a script for the film as well as background on the development of the production. My favorite part details the creation of the costumes, which were co-designed by Christine Edzard, who also directed The Children's Midsummer Night's Dream, and artist Rotislav Doboujinsky, who designed and built the stunning animal masks. I love this quote on Doboujinsky's working practice:

"Doboujinsky works at his own pace - and to his own standard of perfection. 'Now and again I have found no good solution to a problem,' he says. 'Then I renounce,' - renounce not compromise. He must almost have renounced Hunca Munca; thirteen times that winter he made her mask and it was not until February 1970 that, with the fourteenth attempt he was satisfied."

The characters were all performed by dancers from the Royal Ballet. Below are pictures of Jeremy Fisher, who has the most fantastic stripy-stockinged legs, Mrs. Tittlemouse and Johnny Town-Mouse, several waltzing mice, the foxy "sandy-whiskered gentleman", Pigling Bland and friends on a picnic, and a group of extra tails.

Construction materials included:

"60 yards of paper for tails
5 lbs pig bristles - half white - prepared solid, product of Poland
Gallons of various glues
Bags and bags of feathers - marabou, duck feathers, swan feathers
12 pairs of artificial hands (hired) on which to fit paws
Marbles: ping-pong balls : sugar basins"

..and a Van de Graaff generator for affixing animal hair to glue-covered masks!

Isn't it delightful?


Joel Stewart said...

A bleeding van de graaf generator for fitting hairs. That is SO cool. i'll have to get my assistant to build me one in the tv studio.

Crista Noel Smith said...

If you do I'm DEFINITELY coming to visit!

brie aku sefakor said...

it reminds me of screen captures from something we would have rented at gma and gpa smith's house.

Rima said...

That's brilliant! I can just imagine all the mousie assistants with Struwwelpeter hair!
I loved these tales as a young'un because of the idea of a little nest close to the ground in the undergrowth... actually Mr J Fisher has the same windows as on our truck!

Mmm said...

Yes delightful, at least form the pics anyway. I'd like to see this. For now, I'll settle with Ms. Potter-- a lovely movie.

Blog Princess G said...

I saw this movie when I was a wee nipper and on some level was convinced the animals were real! I have the video now and it's magical... the soft colours are very sensitive to Potter's original drawings. What a wonderful find that book of yours is! I"ll keep an eye out for it. I remember reading that Sir Frederick Ashton was amazed at how well the dancers were treated now that they were working on a film. He said they all felt wonderfully spoiled and hoped - for that reason alone - that there might be another film in the works. I have yet to see the production that the Royal Ballet does on stage, but would love to. My favourite bit has to be the falling-in-love scenes between Pigling Bland and his little Berkshire pig girlfriend!

Did you ever see Edzard's Little Dorrit films?