Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's In A Rainbow?

For some reason this past week I found myself thinking about rainbows more than a schoolgirl with CareBear wallpaper.

It all started when my friend Terry and I came to Genesis 9 in our Sunday School class and had to lead a discussion on the significance of the rainbow for God's covenant with the earth.

Then along came news of Radiohead's new album "In Rainbows", which you can download and name your own price. Unfortunately I thought 3 pounds was about 5 dollars but it turns out it is more like 8. Doesn't matter, I've heard it now and still think I got a pretty good deal. It isn't a great album, but it is enjoyable. It isn't as much of a departure as their last few albums, which should please those who find them hard to catch on to, and which is just fine with me since I haven't grown tired of the niche they've already carved.

What the title is about I don't know. But upon reflection Terry and I discovered that there can actually be quite a lot in a rainbow besides a varied prism and a realm of unicorns and lepricons.

Consider the following:

- When God put the rainbow in the sky it was more to remind Himself of his promise not to destroy the earth with a flood again, not us. (Check Genesis 9 if you don't believe me). It reminds me of that scene in Apollo 13 when Kevin Bacon puts a sticky note on the button which could eject the other astronauts into space and ensure his own safe return to earth. The sticky note said "NO!" In this case, God's sticky note is a glorious array of colour and light which for all intents and purposes says "IN SPITE OF EVIL, DO NOT DESTROY!"

- The rainbow has for some reason been chosen as the symbol for Gay Pride. Not sure why but it's interesting anyway.

- Terry dug up another interesting thought. The rainbow is a bow. I never really thought about it but we're not talking about the kind of bow you put on a Christmas present but the sort which is used to shoot an arrow. Where is this bow facing? To heaven. And strangely, the bow is pretty relaxed. Not stretched like it is shooting but in the posture of peace. How 'bout that.

- Why all the beauty and colour? Was this not around before the flood? It appears it was not the kind of environment conducive to rainbows pre-flood. What changed? And isn't it interesting that the sign God chooses is one so incredible and universal, rather than some monument of rocks only visible to one tribe for a limited time. Or some word in some language that only a few can understand. Rather than that it is a symbol which everyone for all time gets to gawk at and get stirred by. It's almost like the sticky note says, "THERE IS SOMETHING LEFT TO LIVE FOR."

- Intriguing that the rainbow always follows the rain. You have to go through some dark clouds to get to it.

- Also very telling that you can never touch the rainbow. It is always moving further away, no matter how much you try. Whatever is left worth living for is something which can not yet be had in its fullness. For all our grasping we do not yet find satisfaction. Only through a glass darkly (a prism perhaps?) can we hold it for now.

- Just imagine what it would be like to be "in rainbows". I don't know if that's what Radiohead is trying to evoke, but it is a mindboggling thought, all things considered. Once you get past all the unicorns and lepricons of course.


bcmatt said...

This is probably the best all-round blog post I have ever read in my life. I salute you.

Dave McGregor said...

i have also enjoyed the in rainbows album. a couple of the tracks on it have actually been kicking around since the ok computer days. To my knowledge though they haven't been available on any commercial releases. They perform the song 'nude' in the documentary meeting people is easy. I always liked it and i'm very glad that it is finally available.

I notice that you recently watched taste of cherry. I was and still am a very big fan of that film and that director. It's seems like he is making films the way i've always wanted to see them but just didn't know it. He also says some pretty interesting things in the special features interview

jon or angie said...

bcmatt: wow. thanks.

dave: it was quite a film. i'll have to watch the special features. the film-making was quite something and, while it took me awhile to get through it because i only watch movies late at night and fell asleep on it a few times, i really appreciate that kind of directing as well. great film. amazing end.

Tony Tanti said...

Rainbows eh? Great stuff in this post, I've never been so intrigued by rainbows.

As for Taste of Cherry, I've had this debate with Jeff at length but I sure didn't like that movie. Granted there was some great dialogue when the movie wasn't showing me slow silent shots of the car driving the same road over and over. The ending was also great, it redeemed the viewing experience for me a bit. Overall though I found it to be a simple story told in a slow and boring way without much visually engaging about it. I know I'm way out on my own with that opinion compared to most people but there you have it.

Back to rainbows, I love your Apollo 13 reference, gave me a whole new angle on how to look at a rainbow.

jon or angie said...

I sort of agree with you Tanti, about the movie and the recurring shots of the winding roads. It put me to sleep a couple times (again, because I tend to watch movies late after a long day). But then again, there is incredible value in this kind of film-making. It is back to this sense of movies being moving pictures. Think of the screen as your frame and the picture within it, frame by frame, can be seen as a work of art. What an amazing picture of the Iranian landscape (and even a part of its way of life) this film gave me, without a word of dialogue.

But beyond that I felt the long shots of a) the guy's face (and his inscrutible eyes) and b) the truck on the winding road really did something important for the film that might not have been done as effectively otherwise: it caught you up in his desperate search, his lonely longin. He is amongst many people on the road side, all of them caught up in their different lives, and he is wandering between them just looking for someone to .... (well, I won't ruin it for anyone). The point is that by following him up and down these windy, dusty, and yet somewhat beautiful hills, we are brought into his perplexing search.

In other words, these long shots make you feel that intangible "something" that you are supposed to feel along with the main character. And whereas many hollywood movies would use a "cheat" -- like a peice of explanatory dialogue to fill that need -- this movie just brings you into the experience the character is having.

it makes in some ways for a picture that is less entertaining and harder to follow, but in other ways it makes for a film that is in a league of its own.

Tony Tanti said...

I know what you mean and I suppose I agree. Jeff made a good point when I told him that this story could have been told in 15 minutes, he said that it could have but then it would have missed the portrayal of the lonely slow search.

I agree but...I just didn't enjoy it. I'm not saying a movie has to entertain me to be great but I guess I just wasn't struck by the imagery the way everyone else seems to have been so it was only the dialogue that I found interesting which there wasn't much of.

What an ending though!

jon or angie said...

yeah. in the end you are left with the subjectivity of film-evaluation. we can talk about reasons we appreciate it, but in the end we personally might not appreciate certain things to the same degree.

most times, even if i don't like a movie i like to at least understand why someone might. in cases such as transformers i find this difficult, but if i tap into my nostalgic side and suspend most of what i look for in a movie i can begin to do so. i give such movies two stars, because i can at least appreciate them through someone else's eyes.
but sometimes i can't for the life of me see any reason why any living human being should like a movie. those movies get one star, which seems generous, but you have to give something credit just for taking the trouble to exist.

while we're at it, i'd say that three stars go to the entertaining movies i didn't love or were just normal. four stars to good or even marginally great films that i just hesitate to put up there with the all timers. and five stars just go to the ones i'm compelled to consider great and would be willing to argue for as such.

speaking of which, i just saw We Own The Night, and i can't decide if it is 4 stars or 5. Way better than Departed though, I must say.

Tony Tanti said...

Interesting, nice to get a breakdown of your star awarding. I've heard very mixed reviews of We Own the Night so you have me intrigued.

My first criteria for judging movies is how engaged I was. That's similar to basing it on entertainment value but truthfully not every movie is entertaining in the true sense of the word. Sometimes a movie is mostly just entertaining and doesn't have much more to it (Transformers) but I can still enjoy those if don't expect much more.

Obviously the quality of the movie making, acting etc... plays a role in my impression of it but a movie can have all the elements but not grab my attention or enterain me. That was what happened with Taste of Cherry for me. I saw things that were high quality but overall most of it seemed simple and I was never "into it."