“Pure Imagination”: A Lament For The Music Makers And The Dreamers

There is no life to compare with Pure Imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be…

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“We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams” – Willy Wonka.

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to 3.

My breath could not be held.

It has been taken far too many times already this year by the heartbreaking and unbelievable number of top talent we have lost. Who does not wish that we could have held on to them a little while longer?

Sadly, they are too many to count…

When the news of Gene Wilder broke on Monday evening, it did not immediately affect me. Can’t let it: it’s become an almost-disturbing commonality this year. However, work on a completely different Post was suspended yesterday in order to make way for these thoughts.

Naturally, yesterday, a number of you uploaded “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971).

Actually, the first track that came to my mind was this dreamy slice of ambience from Aphex Twin – it contains a suitably magic sample from Wilder as Wonka: 

The year began with a shock that crushed just about all of us.

The top legend – the ultimate pop singer: David Bowie departed, just ten days into 2016 – and only two days after his 69th birthday, and after the release of his swansong album: Blackstar. 

The outpouring of grief they say was “unprecedented.” No, such a mass turnout was to be expected in London, Berlin and New York for the beloved boy from Bromley. 

They say the music will endure – Bowie was sufficiently talented to ensure that, but when you know there will be no more from that unique stock… 

And to think Wilder passed away on Monday listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

To weep, perchance to dream…

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“There is no Star Wars without R2-D2 – and Kenny Baker defined who R2-D2 was and is” – Kathleen Kennedy.

A fortnight ago, the news concerning the passing of Kenny Baker came so abruptly. But the real shock came from not seeing enough Obituaries dedicated to him. 

This is a shame.

Just because he was of diminutive size – 3ft 8in to be exact – does not mean he has less entitlement to a celebration of his achievements.

Originally, Baker appeared in a variety troupe known as the Mini Tones. In 1976, his fellow diminutive co-performer: Jack Purvis convinced him to go and audition for a fantasy film. In the original record-shattering phenomenon that turned out to be Star Wars, Purvis “played Chief Jawa,” but Baker landed the way better more enduring – role of R2-D2, the endearing droid who came to the rescue in every episode. He sat inside the metal shell, even in the middle of the Tunisian desert, just to make the dream of a seemingly-impossible space opera come alive.

And what of Baker’s “audition”? Talk about a dream come true!

He showed up on set. George Lucas pointed at him and said: “You’ll do.”

(…!)

He and his wife – who was also of diminutive stature – played Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi. The actor went on to appear in other genre faves such as Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man (both 1980) but his fave role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits (1981). He did not have to be concealed in an “upturned bucket” or under several coats of alien make-up to work some very special magic. 

Arguably Terry Gilliam’s best film, it followed the adventures of a band of dwarves who exploit holes in the fabric of space and time with the aid of a stolen map and set out to become “stinking rich.” 

It endures as one of the most ingenious and delightful fantasy films you are ever likely to see. 

Quite simply, it is a classic of pure imagination. 

He died on August 13, aged 81.

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“I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman” – David Bowie.

With each sad, significant loss mentioned in the Obituary columns this year, the grief is accompanied by a gnawing and reluctant realization that there is barely anyone – in either the music or movie industry – worthy enough to take their place.  

“The stars look very different today…”

Is it a telling lack of talent?

Or a moribund cultural landscape where ingenuity and originality are not allowed to thrive?

Or both?

Contemplating the former calamity: tried to think of half a dozen current stars of the big screen.

Nuts…

Honestly cannot remember the names of four of ’em. And the two names that are seared into my memory have done so only cos their output is notoriously dire and unwatchable… 

On this Summer’s day, as warm as the memories that Wilder’s – or Baker’s – or Bowie’s most magic moments rekindle, writing this lament has gone on long enough for one to see l-o-n-g shadows stretching across the ground outside.

Uh-oh – allegorical mode. 

Coming to the end of a productive – and reflective – day, it is all too easy to consider that, with the passing of each true great, we indeed reach a regrettable “end of an era.” 

Nearly all the classic music makers and dreamers of dreams have left us. This is, ultimately, an unnerving, as well as a sorrowful, thought. For they leave a stunning legacy in which: only music that is (at leastthirty years old can be heard through my earphones, and only SF/fantasy films filled with genuine wonder and charm (and NOT artificial CGI!) make my gleeful grade.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to… 

If only all the guff that passes for popular “entertainment” these days was just a figment of our imagination.

But then again, we could dream up far more entertaining packages… 

Couldn’t we…? 

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8 thoughts on ““Pure Imagination”: A Lament For The Music Makers And The Dreamers

  1. Very nice post recognizing some of the truly talented people we have lost this year. It certainly seems like 2016 is taking more than it’s fair share! 😦 Thank you also for mentioning Kenny Baker–it’s impossible to imagine Star Wars without him. Although R2-D2 never spoke a human word, that little robot worked his way into the hearts of so many people and Baker made him actually seem human.

    • Thanks, Ash.
      I didn’t see any obituaries for Kenny in th blogosphere – he was a v special entertainer. Even @ th age of 80, he was listed on Th Force Awakens as a “consultant” – bless him.
      I only mentioned 3 names in this Post – not enough space (and time) to do all of our dearest departed justice here.
      Cheers!

    • Thank u for your Comment, Robert.
      Your kind words r v much appreciated.
      There comes a time when u r blogging something else and more important words need to b shared.
      Th trio I mentioned in this Post will always b inspirations – difficult to see how any of th current crop of music makers/dreamers cld have any enduring appeal
      Bless u

    • Thanks for your Comment.
      Everyone loved Bowie.
      It feels like a totally different experience listening to his fabulous collection of work this year and will do forever more.
      Thanks for stopping by

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