The Hatbox Ghost Returns

Great overview of the history of the hatbox ghost and review of the new version recently installed in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion:

Suffice it to say that the trick involves scrim, a two-way mirror, clever misdirection, a basically simple mechanical gimmick, a “black art well,” and strategically placed lighting. In other words, we’re essentially back in front of a 19th century magic show, the main difference being that the rabbit popping in and out of the hat is a dummy rabbit with a modern, inner-projected face. The official Disney video for the debut of the new HBG refers to the use of “fundamental tricks and illusions” already pioneered by Yale Gracey. It’s already the case that guesses as to how it’s done generally make it more complicated than it is. In my book, that’s one of the signs of a good magic trick.

Film Study: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Christopher Runyon at Movie Mezzanine on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind:

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is considered by many to be Studio Ghibli’s first effort, even though it was made before the studio was formed. The film was animated by the studio Topcraft, because the company that hired Miyazaki and Takahata to make the film, Tokuma Shoten, didn’t own an animation studio themselves. Created with a relatively small budget of nearly $1 million, it was more of a test run for what the studio could accomplish in the future, but it still has all the staples of Ghibli’s best work and features Miyazaki’s favorite themes: a strong female character who either equals or outdoes the men, a penchant towards environmentalism, the conflict between innocence and the darkness of adulthood, and a fascination with the art of aviation and flight in general. It’s a simple yet engaging story with imaginative visuals, likable characters, and a gorgeous score by constant collaborator Joe Hisaiashi.

Tim Schafer on Making Video Games

Great interview with game developer Tim Schafer at Polygon:

“I really tried to capture what I liked about adventure games,” he says. “They engage your brain in a different way. They move at a different pace than most games. You don’t have to worry about being shot. They’re slower. But they’re more thoughtful. You really have to think through what you know about the world in order to solve the puzzles. They should take you to another world that you miss when you’re not playing the game.”

Film Study: Yojimbo (1961)

We’ll be taking a look at Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo from Thursday through Tuesday.

Yojimbo (用心棒 Yōjinbō) is a 1961 jidaigeki film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a rōnin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the newcomer as a bodyguard.

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