Synchronicity in Film

First, I want to apologize to my loyal readers for the unexpected break in posting over the last month. Unfortunately, my day job as a software architect meant that I was put on a project that consumed most of my free time. Free time where I would’ve normally been scanning ephemera and writing blog posts. 

The lack of free time also meant that I didn’t have time to watch as many films as I am accustomed to. However, now that things have started to slow down, I’ve started consuming more feature-length medias (media? mediums?).

I was recently reminded of the Disney Channel…something I admit that I hadn’t really thought of in ages. Specifically, that it had launched in 1983 and we’d subscribed not too long after that when it was available in our town.

My memories of Disney Channel content in those early days consists mostly of shows that were aimed at kids younger than me, such as Welcome to Pooh Corner, which, despite its title, isn’t a show about perfectly position a cat box. I also have distinct memories of repeatedly watching The Black Hole and Tron

One other film that they seemed to run a lot but that held no interest to my eight-year-old mind was Never Cry Wolf, based on the book of the same name about Farley Mowat spending time in far north Canada observing wolves and whether or not they were the cause of declining caribou populations. 

Upon remembering this film, I decided that I should watch it to see if it was as disinteresting to me in my mid-Forties as it was when I was eight. 

The weirdness for me came a couple of minutes in when I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu…a scene of the main character and narrator sitting outside a train station in the fictional (maybe?) town of Nuutsak (I’m assuming the spelling here, as it sounds like he’s saying “nutsack” but I have to assume that it’s an Inuit word rather than someone actually naming their town after scrotal slang) seemed strangely-familiar to me.

I was certain I’d seen that setting before. Not in another film, but in real-life. Considering it for a moment, it came clear in my mind…this was clearly filmed in the small Yukon town of Carcross…which I visited several years back while exploring the Klondike.

In fact, I have a photo from near that same vantage point:

To confirm my certainty, I enhanced and cropped the screencap above, and it’s clearly the same railroad bridge:

Things changed a bit between when the movie was filmed in 1982-ish and when I visited in 2013, but it’s interesting that the buildings in the background are still there, just maybe a bit-more-ramshackled.

Finding stuff like this is always a surprising treat when watching a movie or TV show. One thing my wife and I enjoy doing when there’s nothing else on TV late on Friday or Saturday nights is to find a channel running old Cheaters reruns. Since the show was primarily filmed in Dallas and we’ve lived in the Dallas area most of our lives, we love trying to figure out the locations. 


Star Wars Distillations, Part 1: The Prequels

A few weeks back, I shared what I called a “Movie QR Code” for Blade Runner, that I’d made. After posting that, I thought about some of the other movies I wanted to do, thinking that maybe I’d get some interesting prints made for my office. Being a kid of the 80s, by far the most-influential films in my life have to be the Star Wars films, so I started with them. 

For the first installment, I did the much-anticipated but ultimately-disappointing prequels. However, to make it interesting, I’ve annotated the films as you can clearly recognize acts and scenes within the movie if you’re familiar with the plot. (If you click on an image, it will open larger. Also, forgive my handwriting).

First, we have The Phantom Menace.

Next up is Attack of the Clones.

And, finally, Revenge of the Sith.

Blade Runner, Distilled

I recently rewatched one of my favorite movies, Blade Runner, after reading Chris Noessel’s series about the UI/UX experience within the film at his excellent site, Sci-fi Interfaces. It had been a few years since I’d last watched it and this was my first time to view it in 4K. The film is sumptuous and the UHD transfer is magnificent.

In fact, my only complaint about Ridley Scott’s masterpiece is that it doesn’t actually feature anyone running on blades. 

A lot of articles have been written about this film. Besides the aforementioned critiques of the various technology-human interactions (cybernetics) in the film, essays have been written on the “Tears in the Rain” soliloquy,  the cutting-edge (at the time) score by Vangelis, the impact of the design on the science fiction genre and even the choice of typography.

So, that said, there’s not a lot to talk about when it comes to the film that hasn’t been covered by more-insightful and better writers than myself. But I wanted to show my appreciation for this film somehow, so I started thinking. Then I remembered that several years ago, I’d built an app that would take a film, distill it down to its individual frames as color-averaged pixels and spit out a image file of these, allowing you to view the color environment of the movie in one distinct image.

So, dusting off my code from my GitHub repository (very rough code, might I add), I fired it up in Visual Studio, re-familiarized myself with how it worked, and built a Blade Runner image. As I recall, I first built this process before I learned about Movie Barcodes, which is a similar process that arranges each frame in a vertical sequence, so I guess maybe these are “movie QR codes”?

At any rate, here’s the QR code for Blade Runner:

Blade Runner

And, just for fun, here’s the sequel, Blade Runner 2049:

Blade Runner 2049