Not Bored With Village Of The DamnedMonday, April 20, 2009
In the late 50s and early 60s I went on a science fiction novel binge and I read everything I could find including (not my favourites) short stories. I read Heinlein, Asimov, Sturgeon, Clarke, Farmer, Kornbluth, and both Gore Vidal (Messiah) and Kurt Vonnegut (The Sirens of Titan) who were then known as science fiction writers. I also read John Wyndam’s The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos. The later was filmed in 1960 as Village of the Damned. The Midwich Cuckoos and Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human were particularly to my liking because the topic was about human evolution evolving from changes in the body to that of changes in the mind. In both novels humans became social "hyper-animals" much like bees and what one knew the rest instantly knew. I am charmed now to find out that particle physicists assert that two electrons on either side of our universe can somehow converse instantly.
Around 1964 I met the director of the film Wolf Rilla who lectured us on his film at the Israeli-Mexican Cultural Institute. He told us how the trick of the strange eyes was performed. Still photos were taken and the eyes were bleached out. When the children were doing there thing in the movie the camera would go from a wide shot and end up in the modified still. This, of course was how directors managed in the age before special effects.
This film left a profound impression in me. It was one of the few films were the great English actor George Sanders played, not a villain, but a sympathetic and understanding good man. This was far from his hateful role as the children’s author Miles Fairley in one of my favourite films of all time the 1947 The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz. Village of the Damned managed to be scary with little gore and no special effects. It was a subtle film done well.
In 1978 I had photographed my daughters Hilary and Ale with b+w infrared film. When I noticed Hilary’s blonde bangs I immediately remembered the film. I enlarged the negative and a couple more and called the trio of pictures The Midwich Cuckoos.
In my campaign to educate my two granddaughters, Rebecca and Lauren I like to show them films that, in the opinion of their aging grandfather, have relevant and intelligent content. Last week we sat down to see Village of the Damned. As soon as it began and Rebecca noticed that it was in b+w she said, “How can this be a scary film if we cannot see the blood?” I said nothing and soon both of them were silently watching the film with lots of interest. After the film they both went to our guest bathroom to look at the pictures of their mother and aunt on the wall. When they returned I noticed Lauren’s blonde bangs and…
On Saturday I photographed Lauren with Kodak Infrared film. Perhaps the look is different this time around as I used a ring-flash instead of my normal soft box. But Lauren still looks scary and so does her sister in the accompanying snapshot. Lauren was most cooperative and delighted but she did say, “You are going to put a picture of me on the wall, aren’t you?” It seems I will have to. I took some normal shots with colour film and some of them are delightful. One of them will be up on the walls soon.
At the end of our viewing of the film I told Rebecca that George Sanders had committed suicide and left a note that said, “I was bored.” She became quite serious and Rosemary winced at my telling her the story. According to the records:
He had at one time 7 psychiatrists, but they were of little help because in 1972 he took seven tubes of Nembutal in Barcelona, Spain and ended his life. His suicide note read:
"Dear World: I am leaving because I am bored. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool."
But there is another version that is a tad kinder and more positive:
“Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I am leaving you with your worries. Good luck."