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Most people know Saul Bass as this genius who created memorable title
and credit sequences for major Hollywood pictures (also a number of
important corporate logos) - but he also created this marvelous short
(about 25 minutes) called "Why Man Creates".
I first saw this wonderful film in a post graduate class in the 1970s. It was a real eye opener and made me think about why we create the things we do - whatever they may be and how we sometimes have to suffer the negativity of others for our artistic efforts.
Saul Bass' vignettes and parables in this film have depth and meaning that grab and stay with you. My favorite is the one with ping pong balls, which I won't give away.
This film makes you think. If you ever get the chance, don't miss it. It could influence your life in a very positive way. It did mine. It is a film I will never forget.
UPDATE: "Why Man Creates" is now available on VHS and DVD for direct sale through pyramidmedia.com for $49 plus S&H. Technical quality of film to video transfer is disappointing. However, although the film is dated in some aspects - it holds up very well in its premise and concept.
This is a really powerful documentary. I first saw it on my first day of Gifted & Talented Education at Pinewood Elementary. I was so amazed by the revolutionary ideas, especially the part with the ping pong balls at the factory. Balls come off the production line and are tested to make sure they bounce within a certain range. One ball bounces higher and is rejected, and ends up bouncing further and going on to greater heights than any others. For a Gifted & Talented class, this was a really powerful metaphor. This is a great film to make one think critically about the world surrounding us and how ideas can be influenced by others' opinions -- especially if the opinions later prove to be invalid and fearful. 4/****
This is a very unconventional film.
I saw this during a lecture at Cornerstone University's Journalism Institute. Honestly, I'm having a hard time understanding the film's application to journalism. Still, I enjoyed it very much.
I love how the introduction seemed like it was copying off of Monty Python's animation style, while, in fact, this was released before "Flying Circua." The sixth episode, with the high-jumping ball, provides an interesting comment on deviating from the norm.
The seventh episode was very uplifting piece on human perseverance. All in all, this is a great compilation of tales that prove that even the most bizarre goals have a chance of succeeding.
That's where I first saw Why Man Creates back in 1975. There
a segment with a traffic light and people crossing a busy street.
The light had four commands: "DON'T WALK", "WALK", "STOP",
and "JUMP", and they stopped in the middle of the street and did jumping jacks. The historical segments were funny. There was
one with monks chanting: "What is the shape of the world?" "Flat!" "What would you do if you go off the edge?" "Fall!" and then there was another one with a man who was so excited he couldn't contain himself. "Hey!" he shouts to his friend who's offscreen. "I invented the zero!" His friend's incredulous. "What?!'" he exclaims. The second man, defeated, says, "Nothing."
This film, when I saw it as a child in the early 70's, affected me
profoundly. Although my memory has faded some, certain specific things were
inexorably embedded in my consciousness: A wee creature hopping along,
chanting "I'm a bug, I'm a germ, I'm a bug, I'm a germ!" Upon bumping into
the boots of a bearded man, it exclaims, "Louis Pasteur!!! I'm not a bug,
I'm not a germ!" And I cannot forget the exchange between Michaelangelo and
da Vinci: "Whaddaya doin?" "I'm painting the ceiling! Whadda you doin?"
"I'm painting the floor!"
These recollections, faded but still strong, do not reflect the scope or genius of this short film, but they do reflect its spirit. In a series of unconnected sequences, Why Man Creates is simultaniously an exploration, example, and homage to Man's creative spirit. It shows, with the unique power of film, that imagination is, indeed, boundless and that the act of creation is as much a part of being human as anything else.
This film deserves to be preserved and shared with each generation of young children so that their imaginations can be freed to soar with whimsy and joy.
I was 8 years old when this film came out, so I saw it a couple of times in school (in California). I had never seen anything like it before, nor have I seen anything to compare it with since. For example, Louis Pasteur would have probably remained uninteresting and forgettable to me had I never seen this film; it stimulated my curiosity and enthusiasm for otherwise dry, boring topics. Its short and digestible segments intrigue and entertain. We who love this film get a smile on our faces and warmth in our hearts just to hear the title spoken out loud. "Why Man Creates" is definitely a cult classic and a "must see" for newcomers. I'd love to be able to see it again and show it to my kids.
I saw Why Man Creates in grad school in 1969 and used it at the
beginning of nearly every high school World History or Western Civ
class I taught here in Alaska between 1970 and 1993. It is the most
thought-provoking, engaging, stimulating film I've ever seen that can
be used from about 5th grade to age 95. The other descriptions of
sequences and 'mini-episodes' in IMDb are very accurate but do not
replicate the experience of seeing it. Having seen it 150 or 200 times,
to me it still is entertaining and I still notice new details in its
fast paced blow by. Bass created a masterpiece. He died in 1996 but
this is his generous legacy.
Should WMC be shown regularly on TV? Maybe, but I think it's best when viewers can discuss WMC together, rather than watching it alone in the dark. It ought to be put on DVD and marketed at a low price; it is timeless and could sell across generations. I'm curious how it might be regarded in other nations if it were seen abroad. Would Canadians, Australians or the British find it funny or provocative? How about English speakers in Nigeria or Kenya or India? Parts of it are culturally bound to European civilization, but other sections could be dubbed into any local language and enjoyed. Unequivocally, Why Man Creates is a MUST-SEE film!
My talented and gifted group has watched this movie at least once a year
since 5th grade. I have now seen the movie at least 10 times. It is one
the most thought-provoking films I have ever seen, plus it is a lot of fun
to watch. The vast majority of my friends can quote lines with me; it's
Why Man Creates explores different parts of the creative process, from its history (an amazing animation sequence) to themes of originality, criticism, experiencing art, and searching for meaning. It's very thought-provoking and well worth seeing for anyone. You probably won't find this film outside of an educational setting, but if you ever get the chance to watch it...seize the opportunity.
I first saw Why Man Creates in high school 1978. I also saw it in college - both times it was shown by a drama teacher/professor. When I started teaching in 1984 I got a copy from the service center and I also showed this film to my drama classes. With an average of 2 classes a year and 40 students, I have now shown this to over 700 students. I start my Theatre I class with a unit on creativity and the importance of failure to the creative process. And after seeing it over 40 times, I'm still finding new things to discuss! I have had several students come back to me after graduation asking where I got my copy, so I was thrilled to find in on the Internet. While it does appear dated in some ways, the message is loud and clear. I would hate to start the year without it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Subject. There
will be spoilers ahead:
Saul Bass is best known for his inventive and memorable opening and closing credit sequences for films such as Anatomy of a Murder, Psycho, Vertigo and Around the World In Eighty Days. This is a short film using a mix of animation and live action which proves both amusing and thought-provoking.
It starts with a five minute animated sequence starting with prehistoric hunters and traveling on up through time to the present (1968). It references major events/eras such as the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, the various scientific discoveries (and the orthodoxy's attempts to squelch them) figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Lincoln, the Wright Brothers and so on. These are occasionally out of sequence. This segment is almost worth the price of admission itself.
The varied segments are all introduced, as the film itself is begun: a hand writing with a pencil puts down a heading, much as you would find on an outline. While the sections are mostly unconnected, there are a couple which are directly related. Most of these are best viewed without too much information, so I'll avoid spoiling them here. Portions of this are essentially blackout comedy sketches.
Ultimately, the whole seemingly unrelated short more or less comes together with the last part, which asks the question, "Why does man create?", to which the answer is rather obvious.
This short deserves to be much more widely available and better known. Most highly recommended.
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