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Archive for March 2nd, 2013

By Bob Clark

Note– This piece is rerunning on the occasion of this film’s appearing this weekend in the New York International Children’s Film Festival again, this time in an English dub. Anyone with an interest in animation in the New York area can check showtimes and locations for this film and others at– http://gkids.tv/intheaters.cfm

When I was a very young child, there was nothing I liked better than to spend an afternoon at the planetarium. Whether it was the Hayden in Central Park, made famous on film by Woody Allen and Diane Keaton’s escape into its confines from the rain to stare at metorites on display in Manhattan– thus preserving it in pristine black-and-white before its modern conversion into the Museum of Natural History’s Rose space center– or the more humble atmosphere of the local Hudson Planetarium in Yonkers, there was very little in my early childhood that was quite as thrilling as the experience of sitting in the dark and watching wondrous projections of shadow and light upon those huge domed ceilings, and allowing one’s self to be transported into the far-flung reaches of our Solar System’s farthest limits and beyond. In many ways, a planetarium offered the most immersive kind of cinematic experience possible, envoloping one’s total sphere of direct and peripheral vision with a 360 degree panorama of light-shows, especially when I was a small enough to have to stand up in my seat to get a clear vantage of the interstellar display. Even if all that was shown was a series of static starscapes and superimpositions of classical constellations, there was enough magic in all the wondrous presentation of all those magic-lantern marvels to stoke the fires of my budding imagination– I’d cover my eyes and hide whenever the image of Perseus carrying the head of Medusa was projected on the planetarium’s false-sky, for fear that I’d be turned into stone just like Ray Harryhausen’s monsters in Clash of the Titans. Listening to a loudspeaker narration describing the endless void of the vaccum and watching an infinite of stars and planets expanding as far as my little eyes could see, I came far closer to experiencing the religious awe of a holy moment in there than I ever did at Church, made aware of how small I, everyone I knew and everyone on our blue-green ball of surf and turf were in the limitless expanse of space. It could be a frightening idea to wrap your head around at the pre-school age (hell, it’s not too comforting to think about even in maturity), but it was also awfully exciting, too.

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