Sunday in the Park with George

The original and genuine masterpieces appear not when an artist creates something sensationally new, something that did not exist before – but when he finds the connections that no one before saw. And the genius of the artist is to see this connection and to transfer this discovery to the spectator. This is the essence of the art.

The same idea is provided in the two different works: a film “Koyaanisqatsi” and a Broadway play “Sunday in the Park with George”. In spite of their difference they both are surprisingly fresh at making connections. “Koyaanisqatsi” is a connection in itself, it is a complicated fusion of images, music and ideas, where not the idea is not created by the visual and audio means, but is naturally blend into their complex.

“Koyaanisqatsi” begins with the shots of Indian ancient cave-paintings, and this introduces the theme of time connection – connection with past, and maybe suggests the society to come back to its roots. After these ancient paintings the modern society is introduced in its forms and activities. This shot gives us recollection of the past.

One more connection is the parallelism of images that the film-maker gives: people and cars moving in the streets are like blood flowing in the arteries, the clouds roll and fall like waves in the ocean – this is the art of seeing many things anew and finding common in very contrary things. It is possible for any human but indeed only artists use this ability, or maybe, they are given a special ability of seeing which the usual people do no possess.  “Koyaanisqatsi” helps us to see these connections in the world and it makes us search for the new similarities of the opposite things.

The “Sunday in the Park with George” is all about connections and they are various in the film: first, the connection to past, present and future, shown through the plot – one hundred years break between first and second acts, and the story going from the artist of the beginning of the 20th century to his grandson. It is like eternal connection of generations shown in one play. The other connection is the one that George is trying to do: to bring together different parts of human life in his works, to express emotions with the unemotional means such as paints and canvas. He tries to make an image by painting many small dots on the large canvas and making the spectator get his idea by connecting these small dots. He expresses it in his famous song “Putting it together”. This is his original idea, a new law in painting invented by George Seurat that he wants to prove by his works. He tries to invent some universal laws of painting, formula that will suite every act of creating. He is very passionate about it, and that is why he loses his lover Dot, and is rejected by his fellow-painters.

The both films handle the problem of art and its freedom. “Koyaanisqatsi” raises this problem by its own form: it gives us a very new conception of the piece of art. The art has the right for freedom, but this right is often misused. “Koyaanisqatsi” strikes the spectators because it was made as film, but indeed presents a collection of scenes, it is a combination of music and images. The other peculiarity of this film is that it contains no plot, no characters and dialogues. It is always a sensation for the art to create the problem and idea without the characters and plot. The essence of every piece of art is the problem, because it gives way to the process of changes that is called progress, and the way to create is through the conflict. In “Koyaanisqatsi” the conflict is also present, but the way it is given is very unusual. The conflict of this film is between the nature and the urban life and technology. The conflict is easily understood by the viewers although no usual means for that are used. The opposition of environment and urban life is created by the changing themes of the shots: first, shots of nature, clouds, seas and mountains, and the pictures of the cities, traffic and people. We can see and feel this contrast as we see the mighty and calm canyons, oceans, sky, and after that the crazy movement of people mass, rapid traffic, buildings being destroyed. The authors skillfully use the slowed-down and speeded-up movement. Thus the nature is shown calm and peaceful, and the society and city life is depicted as chaotic and controversial moving, the people are like mechanisms, running in the usual tracks of routine, speed and stress.

This film can be misunderstood, some will say it does not make any sense and is extremely boring ( there are indeed parts that can bore  anyone, for example one with the plane moving towards the camera during 5 minutes), some would say that music does not match the film, that its usage is very controversial and complicates the understanding – but that is  all the consequences of freedom: you are not judged when you make just another copy because you do not even attract attention to this product. But when one makes something original and outstanding there are always will be two main categories of watchers: those who admire and admit the significance of the work, and those who misunderstand the message or do not understand at all, and very often when people do not understand something they choose to judge it and consider strange instead of investigating it. And I think it is quite normal for any outstanding work.

So “Koyaanisqatsi” is free in the form it uses to express the conflict, and therefore it has to do with the freedom of art. Because the art is always free.

“Sunday in the Park with George” tackles this problem as well, and it is expressed through the main character George Seurat. This name is real, there was a French impressionist painter in the beginning of the last century who tried to create his own technique of painting by making many small dots that is why it was called pointillism. As an artist he possesses freedom to create according to his feeling of the reality, and because of that he faces the tragedy of being misunderstood and rejected. But his activity convinces me in his optimism about his works. He does not abandon hope to change people’s way of looking and seeing be his paintings. Another song and phrase that proves it is George’s constant repetition “Art isn’t easy”.

The freedom is rendered through the means that the authors use for expressing their ideas. For example, Stephen Sondheim, the author of “Sunday in the Park with George” uses screen in front of the stage with many small dots on it as the way to create the impression that all that happens on the stage is not a play but a picture of George and all the character of the scenes, soldiers, servants, girls are the parts of a large painting. I really like this idea with the screen because I am fond of painting, and how Sondheim blended together painting and theatre is very original and fresh. It is another connection that can be found in this play. It gives us the idea that “genres” as we call them are not so divided as we make them to be, indeed they are close and can transfer from one form to another or to combine some forms in one piece of art. So “Sunday in the Park with George” can be called both play and painting because of the form it uses.

I think nowadays it becomes more essential to combine different forms of arts than to divide them like in the ancient times when the idea of arts first appeared. Our time tends to find connections between forms and ways, sometimes very different, even opposite. To my mind, we crave for unity, for unity in ideas, in creative forms, in general knowledge. And that is the reason of experimenting with forms and methods, mixing them, blending together and creating just brand-new genres.

“Koyaanisqatsi” is also a peculiar form of film. Its genre is documentary but this  definition is very relative. The form is called “film” but for many it is quite difficult to accept it like film. It is a sequence of scenes, nature shots, time-lapse photography. The influence of photography is obvious, which makes it difficult to define the form of this film.

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I like the idea of this film – natural versus artificial world particularly that the nature is shown not as a servant of man, something what people made it to be for their purposes. It is depicted as mighty, independent and beautiful power that did not surrender to all the revolutions that the manhood did to the nature. It gives me attitude that God created the nature and world wonderfully and with the purpose and the people could not see this purpose and used the given resources wrong. But in spite of that fact the nature still remained independent and with the purpose. And it looks just fabulous in the film, though not so pretty as we make often, it looks just as it is without conforming to our stereotypes about it.

“Koyaanisqatsi” is a Hopi Indian word that means “life out of balance”, and to mind, it means that life went out of balance though it was planned for it, and the mankind lost the direction to move further. At this moment it moves but in circles. Watching at the nature gives us this attitude that life has a balance and this balance is in the nature. If we follow the laws of nature we will have balance in our lives.

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George in “Sunday in the Park with George” faces also problem of balancing his life. He struggles for necessities as recognition and financial support, and at the same time he needs personal connection, and it is difficult to balance his painting and love to Dot, and at least he does not manage it. This a sad story but it happens so often to the genius because  in order to make a difference one must be really devoted to his work, and often he neglects other parts of the life such as relations with family, love and friends, which brings to collapse of these relations and to personal tragedy in the artist’s life. But what is peculiar this personal tragedy often encourages his creativity and exactly due to the personal loss the artist creates his most prominent works, I think that happened also to George though he did not have chance to face his success. Actually success is not just a public recognition, but a fulfillment of a purposeComputer Technology Articles, so I consider George successful because he fulfilled the task he had set for himself and ended his greatest work. Essays written in 24 hours

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