Sunday, December 7, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Amazing Mr. Bickford (1987) - Repost

This is a re-re-post with updated, working video.

Like a lot of folks, I'm a huge fan of animation in most all of it's forms. I'm particularly fond of stop motion or claymation. Whether in commercials; shows such as: Moral Orel, Robot Chicken, Gumby or the beloved Christmas specials with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Island of Misfits Toys and all the variations I'm usually curious to check 'em out.

At some point in the 1980's I saw excerpts from Frank Zappa's "Baby Snakes" on television, perhaps Night Flight and that was my first exposure to Mr. Bickford's work. A few years later I tracked down The Amazing Mr. Bickford on vhs and was blown away. The soundtrack is orchestral pieces by Frank Zappa and the visuals are rendered in mind bending and bewitchingly fascinating claymation created by the talented Bruce Bickford, namesake of the film's title. It's a heck of a feast for the eyes, as the surreal scenes continuously morph piece by piece into something entirely transformed. The music often mimicking the on screen activity. It's heady, trippy stuff, and not for the little kids. Out of print, but worthy of viewing. Take a look below.

200 Motels (1971)

In 1970 Frank Zappa assembled a new lineup of the Mothers of Invention which featured three members of The Turtles along with some jazz and British musicians. The first release by this new combo was Frank Zappa's solo album Chunga's Revenge. This record plus a May 1970 concert where Zubin Mehta conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic along with a rock band, served as a preview of Zappa's intended film. He presented multiple audio tapes, a ten page treatment, and media clippings to United Artists and this pitch resulted in the studio giving Zappa $650,000 to create the film.

Initial filming took place at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Along with the new Mothers of Invention, musical celebrities Ringo Starr and Keith Moon were also part of the proceedings. Interesting to note that 200 Motels was lensed entirely on videotape and then blown up to 35mm film using a Technicolor film printer used by the BBC.