Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: A Radio Drama Starring Derek Jacobi & Hayley Atwell (Free Audio Book)

Image by Futuril­la, via Flickr Com­mons

For your week­end lis­ten­ing plea­sure, we present a 70 minute radio drama­ti­za­tion of The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles, Ray Brad­bury’s “time­less fable of doomed Mar­t­ian coloni­sa­tion.” Aired by the BBC, this pro­duc­tion stars Derek Jaco­bi and Hay­ley Atwell. Read this lit­tle blurb, which helps set the stage. Then stream the embed­ded Spo­ti­fy audio below.

When the first expe­di­tion to Mars mys­te­ri­ous­ly dis­ap­pears, Earth sends a sec­ond to find out what hap­pened. But the real mis­sion is clas­si­fied. And only Cap­tain Wilder knows the truth. Spender, an anthro­pol­o­gist on Wilder’s crew, attempts to pre­vent the coloni­sa­tion that she believes will erad­i­cate the last of an ancient peo­ple liv­ing on Mars. But to what lengths will she go?

As the hon­ourable but duty-bound Cap­tain Wilder tracks the now rogue Spender into the Mar­t­ian moun­tains, the future of this ancient plan­et is at stake. Mean­while, Earth itself teeters on the brink of its own glob­al cat­a­stro­phe as the very sur­vival of human­i­ty hangs in the bal­ance.…

If you need Spo­ti­fy, down­load it here.

This pro­duc­tion will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Look­ing for free, pro­fes­­sion­al­­ly-read audio books from Audible.com? Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free tri­al with Audible.com, you can down­load two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

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Animated Introductions to Edward Said’s Groundbreaking Book Orientalism

For a few years, many people—those who might these days be called a “self-sat­is­fied lib­er­al elite” (or some­thing like that)—believed that the argu­ments in Edward Said’s 1978 book Ori­en­tal­ism were becom­ing gen­er­al­ly accept­ed. Put broad­ly, Said argued that our con­cep­tions of cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal dif­fer­ences between “the West” and “the East” are pro­duced by Euro­pean intel­lec­tu­al and lit­er­ary tra­di­tions that have exag­ger­at­ed and dis­tort­ed such dif­fer­ences, cre­at­ing a nar­ra­tive in which “the West” is civ­i­lized, dis­ci­plined,  indus­tri­ous, and enlight­ened and “the East” is exot­ic, back­ward, sen­su­al­ist, lazy, pas­sive, dan­ger­ous, irra­tional.…

The tra­di­tion of Ori­en­tal­ism—which stretch­es back into the mid­dle ages—came to jus­ti­fy colo­nial­ism, land and resource theft, slav­ery, and impe­r­i­al aggres­sion in the name of civ­i­liza­tion and sal­va­tion, Even where Euro­pean Ori­en­tal­ist schol­ars and writ­ers had a nuanced under­stand­ing of oth­er cul­tures, such nuance was lost in the pop­u­lar­iz­ing and instru­men­tal use of their ideas.

Said’s the­o­ret­i­cal inter­ven­tion into Ori­en­tal­ist dis­course showed us how the “clash of civ­i­liza­tions” trope that per­vades hun­dreds of years of inter­ac­tions between “the west and the rest” of the world itself has a history—as a ratio­nal­iza­tion for dom­i­nance and exploita­tion. The short ani­mat­ed Al Jazeera video above neat­ly sum­ma­rizes Said’s major argu­ments in the book, and asks us to “unlearn the myth.”

Cast­ing West and East as two dis­tinct civ­i­liza­tions makes lit­tle com­mon sense on its face. Chris­tian­i­ty, one key sup­posed bedrock  of West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion, is an East­ern reli­gion. Aris­to­tle, a foun­da­tion of West­ern thought, was pre­served for many years by Islam­ic schol­ars, who were in fre­quent dia­logue with Greek thinkers, who were them­selves in fre­quent dia­logue with North Africans…. the inter­re­la­tion­ships and cor­re­spon­dences between con­ti­nents and cul­tures are innu­mer­able, the bound­aries between the cat­e­gories high­ly per­me­able. But with the rise of what we’re call­ing “pop­ulism” in the past decade or so, the nuances of intel­lec­tu­al his­to­ry have been lost. Old false dichotomies, always haunt­ing the mar­gins, have once again moved firm­ly to the cen­ter.

In the realm of cable news pun­dit­ry, cor­po­rate secu­ri­ty con­fer­ences, and con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees not only do we rarely see actu­al schol­ars rep­re­sent­ed, but we almost nev­er see schol­ars like Edward Said, a Pales­tin­ian intel­lec­tu­al who spoke and wrote crit­i­cal­ly as a per­son from the Mid­dle East with exper­tise in West­ern lit­er­a­ture and his­to­ry. This fact is itself cen­tral to the con­struc­tion of Ori­en­tal­ist dis­course, as Said wrote in 1978:

The Ori­ent and Islam have a kind of extrareal, phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal­ly reduced sta­tus that puts them out of reach of every­one except the West­ern expert. From the begin­ning of West­ern spec­u­la­tion about the Ori­ent, the one thing the Ori­ent could not do was to rep­re­sent itself.

We can accept noth­ing about “the East,” in oth­er words, unless it is first fil­tered through the lens­es of Euro-Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tive “experts,” who often have extrem­ist views, very lit­tle schol­ar­ly exper­tise, and whose ideas often still come direct­ly from Ori­en­tal­ist nov­els and philoso­phies.

Said’s the­o­ries in Ori­en­tal­ism have received ample crit­i­cism from across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. He’s been cast by the right as a kind of reverse racist against “Cau­casians,” an anti-intel­lec­tu­al accu­sa­tion that dis­torts his views and makes ad hominem attacks. Said traced Euro-Amer­i­can colo­nial his­to­ry with a lev­el of depth that demon­strat­ed the remark­able con­ti­nu­ity in the way major Euro­pean colo­nial pow­ers and the U.S.—their suc­ces­sor by the late 20th century—constructed ide­olo­gies of excep­tion­al­ism and supe­ri­or­i­ty through very sim­i­lar rhetoric.

For a slight­ly dri­er overview of Said’s Ori­en­tal­ism, watch the short video above from edu­ca­tion­al com­pa­ny Macat, a self-described “glob­al leader in crit­i­cal think­ing.” Nei­ther of these explain­ers can sub­sti­tute for actu­al­ly engag­ing with the argu­ments in Said’s book. His his­to­ry of Ori­en­tal­ist fables is itself an adven­tur­ous tale. As a lit­er­ary prod­uct, “the Ori­ent was almost a Euro­pean inven­tion,” he writes in his Intro­duc­tion, yet as a region, it “is an inte­gral part of Euro­pean mate­r­i­al civ­i­liza­tion and cul­ture.” There is no one with­out the oth­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Edward Said Recalls His Depress­ing Meet­ing With Sartre, de Beau­voir & Fou­cault (1979)

Edward Said Speaks Can­did­ly about Pol­i­tics, His Ill­ness, and His Lega­cy in His Final Inter­view (2003)

Clash of the Titans: Noam Chom­sky & Michel Fou­cault Debate Human Nature & Pow­er on Dutch TV, 1971

Mid­dle East­ern His­to­ry: Free Cours­es

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The M.C. Escher Mirror Puzzle: Test Your Imagination & Concentration with an Artistic Brain Teaser

The art of M.C. Esch­er appar­ent­ly makes for some good puz­zles. Head over to Ama­zon and you’ll find a num­ber of ornate Esch­er works of art turned into tra­di­tion­al 1,000-piece puz­zles. They’ll keep you busy for hours on end. But will they chal­lenge you as much as the M.C. Esch­er Mir­ror Puz­zle fea­tured above? This puz­zle takes things to anoth­er lev­el. The direc­tions read like this: “Use the slant­ed mir­ror inside each cube to reflect the image on the side of an adja­cent cube. Once you place all nine cubes in the right pat­tern, a com­plete Esch­er image will appear.” Fin­ish the first puz­zle, and then start on the next one. There are five puz­zles in this set.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

M.C. Esch­er Cov­er Art for Great Books by Ita­lo Calvi­no, George Orwell & Jorge Luis Borges

Watch M.C. Esch­er Make His Final Artis­tic Cre­ation in the 1971 Doc­u­men­tary Adven­tures in Per­cep­tion

Meta­mor­phose: 1999 Doc­u­men­tary Reveals the Life and Work of Artist M.C. Esch­er

Inspi­ra­tions: A Short Film Cel­e­brat­ing the Math­e­mat­i­cal Art of M.C. Esch­er

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The Philosophy of The Matrix: From Plato and Descartes, to Eastern Philosophy

Do you take the red pill or the blue pill? The ques­tion, which at its heart has to do with either accept­ing or reject­ing the illu­sions that con­sti­tute some or all of life as you know it, became part of the cul­ture almost imme­di­ate­ly after Mor­pheus, Lawrence Fish­burne’s char­ac­ter in The Matrix, put it to Keanu Reeves’ pro­tag­o­nist Neo. That film, a career-mak­ing suc­cess for its direc­tors the Wachows­ki sis­ters (then the Wachows­ki broth­ers), had its own elab­o­rate vision of a false real­i­ty entrap­ping human­i­ty as the actu­al one sur­rounds it, a vision made real­iz­able by the finest late-1990s com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed spe­cial effects. But the ideas behind it, as this Film Radar video essay shows, go back a long way indeed.

The first and by far the most respect­ed of the tril­o­gy, The Matrix “large­ly inter­prets Pla­to’s Alle­go­ry of the Cave. Imag­ine a cave. Inside are peo­ple who were born and have spent their entire lives there, chained into a fixed posi­tion, only able to see the wall in front of them. As far as they know, this is the entire world.” The Wachowskis ask the same ques­tion Pla­to does: “How do we know what our real­i­ty real­ly is?”

When they have Mor­pheus bring Neo out of his “cave” of every­day late-20th-cen­tu­ry exis­tence, they do it in a man­ner anal­o­gous to Pla­to’s Anal­o­gy of the Sun, in which “the sun is a metaphor for the nature of real­i­ty and knowl­edge con­cern­ing it,” and the eyes of the fear­ful few forced out of their cave need some time to adjust to it.

But when one “unplugs” from the illu­sion-gen­er­at­ing Matrix of the title — a con­cept now in con­sid­er­a­tion again thanks to the pop­u­lar­i­ty of the “sim­u­la­tion argu­ment” — a longer jour­ney toward that real­ly-real real­i­ty still awaits. The sec­ond and third install­ments of the tril­o­gy involve a dive into “reli­gious phi­los­o­phy from the East,” espe­cial­ly the idea of escape from the eter­nal soul’s rein­car­na­tion “into oth­er phys­i­cal forms in an infi­nite cycle where the soul is left to wan­der and suf­fer” by means of a spir­i­tu­al quest for “enlight­en­ment, by unit­ing body and mind with spir­it.” This leads, inevitably, to self-sac­ri­fice: by final­ly “allow­ing him­self to die,” Neo “is reunit­ed with spir­it” and “becomes the true sav­ior of human­i­ty” — a nar­ra­tive ele­ment not unknown in reli­gious texts even out­side the East.

These count as only “a few of the philo­soph­i­cal ideas the Wachowskis explore in the Matrix tril­o­gy,” the oth­ers includ­ing Robert Noz­ick­’s “Expe­ri­ence Machine,” Descartes’ “Great Deceiv­er,” and oth­er con­cepts from Kant and Hume “ques­tion­ing real­i­ty, causal­i­ty, and free will, not to men­tion the obvi­ous com­men­tary on tech­nol­o­gy or a sub­mis­sive soci­ety.” Of course, philo­soph­i­cal explo­ration in The Matrix involve count­less fly­ing — and grav­i­ty-defy­ing — fists and bul­lets, much of it per­formed by char­ac­ters clad in reflec­tive sun­glass­es and black leather. Per­haps that dat­ed­ness has prompt­ed the recent announce­ment of a Matrix reboot: though the styles may change, if it hap­pens, the ideas would no doubt remain rec­og­niz­able to Pla­to him­self.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Are We Liv­ing Inside a Com­put­er Sim­u­la­tion?: An Intro­duc­tion to the Mind-Bog­gling “Sim­u­la­tion Argu­ment”

Philip K. Dick The­o­rizes The Matrix in 1977, Declares That We Live in “A Com­put­er-Pro­grammed Real­i­ty”

Daniel Den­nett and Cor­nel West Decode the Phi­los­o­phy of The Matrix

The Matrix: What Went Into The Mix

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Kurt Vonnegut on Bob Dylan: He “Is the Worst Poet Alive”

Image by Daniele Pratitand Ben North­ern via Flckr Com­mons

As if life weren’t fraught enough, we’re bar­rel­ing toward the 10th anniver­sary of author Kurt Vonnegut’s death.

So it goes.

Sev­er­al years before he died, Von­negut penned an essay called “Know­ing What’s Nice,” in which he stat­ed:

If I should ever die, God for­bid, let this be my epi­taph: ‘The only proof he need­ed for the exis­tence of God was music.’

“If I should ever…God for­bid…”

Bless his cranky human­ist heart, if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Those out­side the inner cir­cle can only spec­u­late as to whether his remains rest eter­nal­ly beneath his pre­ferred epi­taph. Their where­abouts are not a mat­ter of pub­lic record. As one Inter­net wag sur­mised, he “prob­a­bly did­n’t want some van­dal sono­fabitch writ­ing Every­thing was Beau­ti­ful and Noth­ing Hurt on it.”

The wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed Armistice Day pas­sage from Vonnegut’s nov­el Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons sup­ports the notion of music as some­thing he revered uni­ver­sal­ly:

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juli­et, for instance. And all music is. 

In real­i­ty, the ama­teur clar­inet play­er’s ear was a bit more dis­cern­ing:

 I hate rap. The Bea­t­les have made a sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion. Bob Dylan, how­ev­er, is the worst poet alive. He can maybe get one good line in a song, and the rest is gib­ber­ish.

So he told Hus­tler in 1991, in response to a ques­tion about his musi­cal tastes. Nev­er did get around to telling the inter­view­er what he actu­al­ly liked. Accord­ing to his daugh­ter, Nan­nette, the list would’ve includ­ed Dave Brubeck, the Statler Broth­ers, and The Music Man sound­track.

Von­negut didn’t live to see Dylan win the Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture last year, but sev­er­al com­men­ta­tors exhumed his dis­mis­sive quote to under­score that not every­one was hap­py to see a singer-song­writer award­ed such a pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary prize.

Mean­while, Dylan’s fans are not wait­ing for him to die to talk about the ways in which his music has helped them nav­i­gate through life, much as the jazzmen Von­negut saw play­ing live in Depres­sion-era Indi­anapo­lis trans­port­ed him to a bet­ter place:

…what music is, I don’t know. But it helps me so.

Fans have cre­at­ed eleven playlists inspired by Von­negut on the music shar­ing site 8tracks, includ­ing one that fea­tures Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall. (“Per­fect for cap­tur­ing Von­negut’s vibe” enthused one inno­cent young com­menter.)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kurt Von­negut Explains “How to Write With Style”

In 1988, Kurt Von­negut Writes a Let­ter to Peo­ple Liv­ing in 2088, Giv­ing 7 Pieces of Advice

Dis­cov­er Ray Brad­bury & Kurt Vonnegut’s 1990s TV Shows: The Ray Brad­bury The­ater and Wel­come to the Mon­key House

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Watch the Trippy Screen Projections Used by Pink Floyd During their Dark Side of the Moon Tours

Even in the ear­ly years of Pink Floyd’s career, the band was exper­i­ment­ing with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the live expe­ri­ence. Already daz­zling audi­ences with boom­ing sound, col­or­ful light shows, and bub­bling translu­cent oil pro­jec­tions, the group called in Abbey Road engi­neers to design a quadro­phon­ic sound sys­tem in 1967 to send Rick Wright’s key­boards around the con­cert hall, along with nature sounds, foot­steps, or mani­a­cal laugh­ter.

By the time of Dark Side of the Moon, the band had even more of a bud­get, and began to screen short films, some ani­mat­ed, dur­ing their world tour con­certs. Not real­ly pro­mo­tion­al videos, these films haven’t been seen out­side their live con­text since. But the Inter­net has a way of find­ing these things.

Ear­li­er this month, sev­er­al YouTube users uploaded the film reels used on Pink Floyd’s 1974 North Amer­i­can Tour, with music from Dark Side of the Moon added back in to give an indi­ca­tion of how it was used in the show. (The mix­es are also quite dif­fer­ent from the album–maybe a fan can tell us from where these come?)

We get some very Kubrick-like trav­el­ing shots down both an emp­ty hos­pi­tal cor­ri­dor and of Heathrow’s arrival lounge, and lat­er a fist punch­ing a bowl of eggs, Zabriskie Point-like explod­ing tele­vi­sions, shots of Nixon and Idi Amin, and final­ly back to open­ing shots of the moon for the finale.

But there’s also moments of ani­ma­tion cre­at­ed then-unknown film­mak­er Ian Emes.

The up-and-com­ing and self-taught artist had already made an ani­ma­tion “French Win­dows” set to the Floyd song “One of these Days,” filled with trip­py land­scapes and roto­scoped dancers. It won awards at ani­ma­tion fes­ti­vals and was shown on British TV. Accord­ing to Emes:

“Hav­ing seen my film French Win­dows on BBC’s The Old Grey Whis­tle Test, the band com­mis­sioned me to make their first-ever ani­mat­ed film, which they sub­se­quent­ly toured the world with. The Time sequence is used to this day. It was a breath­tak­ing expe­ri­ence to see my film pro­ject­ed live at Wem­b­ley Are­na before a huge crowd of tripped out fans.”

The con­cert films dif­fered from coun­try to coun­try, shar­ing 75 per­cent of their footage, which means if you are a true fan, you’ll have to watch the British Tour ver­sion and the French Tour to know what you’re miss­ing. The British ver­sion fea­tures more infor­ma­tion, but it’s not clear if it’s also by Emes.

After Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd con­tin­ued to bring visu­als into their live shows, most notably anoth­er ani­ma­tion for “Wel­come to the Machine,” seen below. This time they used anoth­er up-and-com­ing illus­tra­tor and ani­ma­tor called Ger­ald Scarfe to cre­ate the har­row­ing graph­ics. Scarfe, of course, would lat­er cre­ate many more works for Pink Floy­d’s The Wall, and those ani­ma­tions would be used in con­cert and lat­er in the Alan Park­er film, The Wall.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pink Floyd Per­forms on US Tele­vi­sion for the First Time: Amer­i­can Band­stand, 1967

Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” Pro­vides a Sound­track for the Final Scene of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Hear Lost Record­ing of Pink Floyd Play­ing with Jazz Vio­lin­ist Stéphane Grap­pel­li on “Wish You Were Here”

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Hear the Prog-Rock Adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds: The 1978 Rock Opera That Sold 15 Million Copies Worldwide

Since the 1950s at least, Amer­i­cans have embraced sci­ence fic­tion of all kinds—from the high con­cepts of 2001 to the high kitsch of Bar­barel­la—even if some­times only among devot­ed cult fans. The Queen-scored Flash Gor­don, for exam­ple, did not do well in U.S. the­aters on its release in 1980, though it was a hit in the UK. But not long after, its icon­ic, puls­ing theme song, with its oper­at­ic blasts, became an unmis­tak­able call­back to the final days of 70s rock opera’s glo­ri­ous excess­es.

And yet some­how, anoth­er equal­ly bom­bas­tic sci-fi rock opera pro­duced in 1978, Jeff Wayne’s musi­cal adap­ta­tion of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, has been denied prop­er cult sta­tus in the States. At the time of its release, U.S. audi­ences, primed by the pre­vi­ous year’s colos­sal hit, Star Wars, per­haps sought more swash­buck­ling fare, not prog-rock dou­ble con­cept albums based on clas­sic nov­els. Amer­i­can indif­fer­ence, how­ev­er, in no way hin­dered the album’s pop­u­lar­i­ty abroad.

Accord­ing to its clunky web­site, Wayne’s adap­ta­tion, “is one of the best known and best-sell­ing musi­cal works of all time.” This is no emp­ty boast; it had “sold approx­i­mate­ly 15 mil­lion records around the world” by 2013 and in 2009 was named the 40th best-sell­ing album ever. And for good rea­son! While you may nev­er have heard of Wayne—he wrote music for TV com­mer­cials for much of his career, and once struck it big by pro­duc­ing David Essex’s 1973 hit “Rock On”—you know the “cast” of his War of the Worlds.

Richard Bur­ton nar­rates, lend­ing the pro­ceed­ings the grav­i­tas Orson Welles gave The Alan Par­sons Project’s adap­ta­tion of Edgar Allan Poe (and, many years ear­li­er, brought to his own infa­mous War of the Worlds adap­ta­tion). The songs promi­nent­ly fea­ture Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and The Moody Blues’ Justin Hay­ward, both huge stars at the time, as well as David Essex, “musi­cal the­ater vet Julie Cov­ing­ton,” writes Dan­ger­ous Minds’ Ron Kretsch, and “gui­tar ace and Sex Pis­tols demo pro­duc­er Chris Sped­ding.”

Sup­ple­ment­ing the album’s musi­cal charms, and they are many, the orig­i­nal LP also came “pack­aged in a gate­fold with a book con­tain­ing the com­plete script and some awe­some paint­ings, most­ly by not­ed Lord of the Rings cov­er artist Geoff Tay­lor.” For many of us, Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds will seem like a lost mas­ter­piece, a bril­liant­ly kitschy sci-fi, prog-dis­co clas­sic that nev­er got its due. For fans, how­ev­er, in “no less than 22 coun­tries,” as the album’s site pro­claims, where it chart­ed, reach­ing num­ber one in half of them, the strange­ly inspired rock opera may well be very famil­iar.

You can hear the com­plete dou­ble LP at the playlist above (or click here), along with two more “sides” of alter­nates, out­takes, and demos. (If you need Spo­ti­fy, down­load it here.) One of the songs, Hayward’s “For­ev­er Autumn,” above, was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten for a “late-‘60s LEGO com­mer­cial,” but war­rant­ed inclu­sion because “Wayne sim­ply want­ed a bal­lad to be includ­ed.” The move is typ­i­cal of his more is more pro­duc­tion approach to War of the Worlds, and yet, some­how, it all comes togeth­er into an engross­ing expe­ri­ence. For some rea­son, in 2012, Wayne decid­ed to remake the album, with Liam Nee­son tak­ing on the nar­ra­tion duties. Judg­ing by its Ama­zon reviews, the new ver­sion is just as beloved by many fans as the old.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Orson Welles’ Icon­ic War of the Worlds Broad­cast (1938)

The Very First Illus­tra­tions of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1897)

The Great Leonard Nimoy Reads H.G. Wells’ Sem­i­nal Sci-Fi Nov­el The War of the Worlds

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Origins of Anime: Watch Free Online 64 Animations That Launched the Japanese Anime Tradition

Japan­ese ani­ma­tion has a way of seem­ing per­pet­u­al­ly new and dar­ing, but it now goes back at least a cen­tu­ry. Hav­ing carved out its own aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al space in world cul­ture, ani­me (even for­eign­ers who’ve nev­er watched so much as a minute of it know the Japan­ese term) con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate a dis­tinc­tive kind of excite­ment in its view­ers. That goes for rel­a­tive­ly recent fea­tures that have already attained clas­sic sta­tus, like the lush, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly real­is­tic and fan­tas­ti­cal works of Hayao Miyaza­ki, the dark­er, deep­er visions like Mamoru Oshi­i’s Ghost in the Shell, and the diver­si­ty of works in between. But how did those qual­i­ties man­i­fest in the very ear­li­est ani­me? We can now eas­i­ly see for our­selves, thanks to the selec­tion of 64 Japan­ese ani­mat­ed film clas­sics made freely avail­able online, as a cel­e­bra­tion of the cen­te­nary of the form, by Japan’s Nation­al Film Archive.

“The most excit­ing of these are the two ear­li­est extant ani­me The Dull Sword (Namaku­ra Gatana, 1917) and Urashima Tarō (1918),” writes Nishika­ta Film Review’s Cathy Munroe Hotes, “films which were con­sid­ered lost until copies were mirac­u­lous­ly dis­cov­ered in an antique shop in Osa­ka in 2008.  As the vast major­i­ty of pre-war films have been lost due to nat­ur­al dis­as­ter, war, and gen­er­al neglect, each of these 64 films is an impor­tant glimpse into ear­ly ani­me his­to­ry and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry Japan­ese cul­ture.”

You can also browse the Nation­al Film Archive’s online col­lec­tion of ear­ly ani­ma­tion by direc­tor. Watch­ing the works of cer­tain espe­cial­ly pro­lif­ic ones like Noburō Ōfu­ji and Yasu­ji Mura­ta (whose 1929 The Old Man’s Lump Removed, not avail­able in the col­lec­tion, appears above), you might come away con­vinced that, even in its first decades, Japan­ese ani­ma­tion had devel­oped its auteur cul­ture.

The move­ment (which some­times bare­ly qual­i­fies as such) and sound (if any) in some of these shorts could hard­ly impress today, at least on a tech­ni­cal lev­el. Nev­er­the­less, those of us who’ve felt the excite­ment of the best of ani­me will rec­og­nize in the pre­sen­ta­tion of the images them­selves — in its dynamism, its humor, its cre­ativ­i­ty — the spe­cial ani­mat­ing spir­it, as it were, that first sparked our inter­est. Whether the some­times slap­dash likes of Speed Rac­erRobot­ech, or Kim­ba the White Lion, which intro­duced gen­er­a­tions of West­ern­ers to ani­me in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, real­ly marked that much of an improve­ment on crude pro­duc­tion of, say, Murata’s My Ski Trip from 1930 remains open to debate, but through them all we can trace the devel­op­ment of the style and sen­si­bil­i­ty that, to this day, no ani­ma­tion but the Japan­ese vari­ety has tru­ly mas­tered.

Enter the Nation­al Film Archive ani­me col­lec­tion here.

(NOTE: the Nation­al Film Archive assures us that the Eng­lish ver­sion of the site “will be avail­able in a month or two,” but you can find Eng­lish-sub­ti­tled films there even now.)

via coudal.com

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ear­ly Japan­ese Ani­ma­tions: The Ori­gins of Ani­me (1917–1931)

How the Films of Hayao Miyaza­ki Work Their Ani­mat­ed Mag­ic, Explained in 4 Video Essays

The Phi­los­o­phy, Sto­ry­telling & Visu­al Cre­ativ­i­ty of Ghost in the Shell, the Acclaimed Ani­me Film, Explained in Video Essays

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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