Monday, March 30, 2009

The Art of Lotte Reiniger

Caption: Theodore and Natalie, following in the footsteps of early 20th century animation pioneers.

Mrs. Sefranka's first grade class engaged in a research project last week. The children were instructed to write a report about a famous woman, and create a project reflective of this woman's life.

Theodore's choice: the pioneering filmmaker and silhouette artist Lotte Reiniger, whose "Adventures of Prince Achmed" captivated the Berlin vanguard in the late 1920s, and who later fled fascist Germany for the creative oasis of the United Kingdom. Obvious choice, you say? Well, Theodore has plenty of time to learn about more obscure historical figures in high school and college.

In the photo above, we see Theodore creating his own version of Prince Achmed's flying horse. With it, and other silhouette cut outs, Theodore fashioned a collection of his own animation "stills" to share with his class. (On the computer screen, you see a scene from Reininger's 1926 film, which he used as a model.)

Natalie so loves her brother that she, too, spent much of Sunday creating silhouettes from the tales of the Arabian Nights.

When asked about his presentation to his class, Theodore seemed very proud: "Mrs. Sefranka didn't even know about Lotte Reiniger," he said.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A royal couple of Clarks

caption: Natalie, 3, adores Theodore, 6, but not for his money.

It's remarkable how well the little kids get along with each other. Theodore, 6, looks after Natalie, 3, and Natalie looks up to Theodore.

On a recent snowy morning, Natalie shouted up the stairs to her brother, who she calls "Kuya" as per Filipino custom.

Natalie: Kuya, it's snowing! It's all covered with snow!"
Theodore: I know. Come up here.
Natalie: OK. (Footsteps bouncing up the steps.)
Theodore: I'm sick. I'm coughing.
Natalie: Me, too. (She pretends to cough.) Only Daddy is not sick.

And on it goes, about Star Wars, bunnies, food and all kinds of subjects.

On the day before the snowfall, the children enjoyed watching "Sleeping Beauty" in eight 10-minute Youtube installments. Daddy was impressed at the quality of the movie, and he thought the animated romance between Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora was surprisingly touching and modern. ("After all, father," said Prince Phillip, "this is the 14th century.")

Later, Daddy explained to the children that Mommy decided not to marry a prince; and instead she married Daddy because she loved him.

Dad: "Will you marry a prince, Natalie?"
Natalie: "No. I'm going to marry Kuya because I love HIM."