Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Forget Christmas. In Ray Bradbury's fiction, Halloween is the biggest holiday of them all.

As I was browsing through some files on my laptop, I came across a couple of images from The Halloween Tree which I don't think I have used before on Bradburymedia. They are background paintings, used as establishing shots in the 1993 Hanna-Barbara film based on Bradbury's novel. Ray wrote the script for the film, and won an Emmy Award for his efforts.

The paintings, below, are shown here as you never quite see them in the film. Both are used in panning shots - the camera moves across each one, from one side to the other. A couple of years ago, I took frame grabs from the DVD and stitched together several frames to create the panoramic images you now see.

I wish I could give due credit to the original background artist(s), but unfortunately I have no idea who they were. The film's credits are not specific about who created the backgrounds, and there are any number of artists who might have been responsible (see the full list of film credits here).

I've always been quite taken with the second image below, a representation of the fictional Green Town, Illinois. It looks very like old Waukegan, the real town it is based on.

Click on the images to embiggen.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Halloween Tree - in New York

Calling all New Yorkers! An event happening TOMORROW, based on Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree!

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The Living Libretto : The Halloween Tree

October 30, 2015 / 7:00 p.m.
The National Opera Center
330 7th Avenue / New York, NY 10001

From Egypt to Mexico, from prehistory to modern day, the epic journey the boys in Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree undertake in their search for their friend Pipkin manages to combine the light humor of Alice in Wonderland with the adventurous narrative of The Odyssey. Underpinned by a morality reminiscent of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the story travels across space and time, all the while offering valuable wisdom with respect to the cultural and historical traditions that have led to the contemporary celebration of Halloween. "From Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, to Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, phantasmagorical adventures have sprouted from regular lifestyles, transporting the audience, along with the characters, into the wild world of imagination," write the creators.

“While it sticks to two of the Aristotelian unities for drama (it has one main plot and takes place within twenty-four hours), TheHalloween Tree disposes of the third unity, one physical location, in a daring manner by traveling through space and time,” explains librettist Tony Asaro. Composer Theo Popov continues, “There are moments in Bradbury’s novel that just beg for an operatic setting: the pumpkin chorus on the Halloween Tree, the funeral processions in antiquity, the lamentations of the Druids, the flight of the witches, the communal celebrations of the Mexican Day of the Dead…Most of all, the excited pace of the narrative, which can glimpse hundreds of years of history in mere moments, makes the story ideal for a staged adventure children and parents alike would enjoy." American Lyric Theater has proudly commissioned The Halloween Tree in cooperation with the estate of Ray Bradbury.

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Tickets and more information here:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

No More Whispers...

I'm breaking a longish Bradburymedia silence to report that The Whispers has been cancelled by ABC.

The Whispers was the most recent attempt to adapt Ray Bradbury for the screen, taking the premise of his classic short story "Zero Hour" and spinning out into a long-running TV series. As it turns out, only thirteen episodes were made, and in the face of declining ratings ABC decided not to bring it back for a second season.

This, of course, leaves viewers of the series with unanswered questions, principally "what was that all about?"

I watched the first three or four episodes, and although it really had little to do with Bradbury, I thought the plotting had some intrigue, with mystery being piled on mystery. The opening scenes of episode one actually reflected Bradbury's "The Small Assassin" as much as they did "Zero Hour". I have the remaining episodes stacked up, and may get round to viewing them at some point.

It turns out to be a mixed blessing that Bradbury's name was completely left out of the credits. Most casual viewers will have no clue that The Whispers was "Zero Hour". But if any of those are left disappointed by a lack of a solid conclusion, point them to the original short story - which has one of Bradbury's finest endings.

More information on the cancellation of The Whispers can be found here: