Eight years ago, I curated a film series at Bank Street College, after having done a previous series called "Teachers in Cinema". I recently came across an archive of the website for the nine film series, and now I'm rewatching the films. Below are the text, trailers, and extended excerpts taken from the website for the series, posted as I watch each of them - and perhaps adding new ones. Note that there may be spoilers in the trailers and excerpts.
Crisis and the Child's Imagination
In both children’s literature and film, the theme of a distressed child facing a crisis, and taking refuge in her imagination is a common one. From the classic Wizard of Oz to the recent film The Fall, these films explore the ways in which a psychological crisis can induce the child's mind to create a reality that both expresses and transforms her experience of herself and the world.
Director: Dave Kean Writer: Neal Gaiman
Fifteen-year old Helena works at the family circus with her father and mother, but wants to run away from the circus and join 'real life’. She spends much of her time drawing an elaborate imaginary world on the walls of her room. After a fight with her parents about her future plans, her mother falls ill and Helena is afraid that it might be her fault. On the eve of her mother's critical surgery, she slips into a dream inside her own created world, complete with an evil queen, extraordinary architecture, bizarre creatures, and strange inhabitants. But Helena finds that there is a also a crisis in this new world - the white queen has fallen ill and can only be restored by the lost Mirrormask -, and finding it is her only way out. But as her adventures continue, she catches glimpses of a shadow Helena on the other side of her drawings, who has taken her place back in the real world.
Director: Tarsem Singh Writer: Tarsem Singh, Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis
While young Alexandria is recuperating from a fractured arm in a Los Angeles Hospital, she befriends Roy Walker, a dejected silent-film stunt man who has been paralized by a fall from a bridge. He begins to tell her a story: a group of men are on a quest to seek revenge against the oppressive and powerful Governor Odious, who has committed an offense against each of the six: an Italian explosions expert; a Native American; a runaway slave; an East Indian swordsman; Charles Darwin accompanied by a monkey sidekick; and their leader, the masked Black Bandit. With the telling of each episode, Roy incorporates elements from his own life, and Alexandra's into the story, which becomes transformed through her imagination into something much different, and much richer, than Roy's simple cowboy story. Is the story then Roy's or Alexandria's?