22 February 2013

The Tallest Statues of Jesus Christ in the World

Probably the most famous statue of Jesus on the planet, known for both size and location, is the statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (pictured above). You would be forgiven for thinking that this was the largest statue of Jesus in the world too – yet you would be mistaken.  The Jesus who towers above the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio is only the fourth largest statue of the Christ on Earth.  Take a look at some of the others - they get bigger as you go along.

Cristo Rey - Mexico
Height 20.5 m (67 feet)
The Christ the King statue sits atop of the hill named after a gambling implement of all things – a dice cup.  The hill,Cerro del Cubilete (more of a mountain if the truth be told) is 2,700 meters high and is situated in the state of Guanajuato in Mexico.

21 February 2013

An Animated History of Poland


The Polish Pavilion at Expo 2010 quickly drew crowds to see this amazing eight minute animation of the entire history of Poland as a country.  For those of us who heard about it but were unlucky enough not to make it to Shanghai we had to make do with a few thirty second clips on the internet which really really made everyone who saw it want to see the whole version.

Imagine my pleasure when I discovered the full version on Vimeo.  So, now it's here. The compelling animation traces Poland's history from feudal times to the present day.  You will see the world wars, the partition of the country, Chopin, the rise and fall of Communism, Solidarnosc (solidarity) and much more. To capture the entire history of a nation in just eight minutes is an amazing achievement. If you are not Polish then a number of the dates may not mean a great deal to you.  However, follow this link to Wikipedia's History of Poland page (which is excellent) and you will be able to find explanations behind each of the dates in the animation.

So, go make a drink, sit back and enjoy.  This is quite simply one of the most astounding pieces of animation I have ever seen.

żywa historia Polski  / historia Polska

Jan Chodkiewicz – The World’s Greatest Swordsman


Jan Chodkiewicz is often referred to as the world’s greatest swordsman – and perhaps it is in his blood.  The Gdansk based swordsman and sword maker is descended from the great knights, including Poland's most famous commander Jan Karol Chodkiewicz (1560-1621).  Yet even though the years of Communism in Poland saw the interruption of the family’s historic strings, Chodkiewicz continues in the traditions of his kinsfolk.

He also cuts quite a dash - the Polish film industry should take note - they have a ready-made action hero here: movie star looks and a world expert in sword fighting skills.

This short documentary was created by Michał Rytel-Przełomiec.

20 February 2013

The Danish Poet - Academy Award Winner, Best Animated Short Film 2006


I am thrilled to little pieces to be able to share The Danish Poet with you.  Created in a 2006 this animated short film was written, directed, and animated by Torill Kove and narrated by Liv Ullmann.

This delightful animated film focuses on Kasper Jørgensen a sad and lonely Danish poet in the 1940s.  His psychiatrist suggests that he travels on the ferry from Copenhagen to Norway to meet his favorite author, Sigrid Undset.

He agrees but gets waylaid by the Norwegian weather and takes refuge at a farm where he meets Ingeborg, the farmer’s daughter.

The two fall in love but fate gets in the way.  How Kasper and Ingeborg finally get together is something, I think, for you to discover for yourself but (without spoiling any surprise) it is more than their own fates that are at stake here.

The Danish Poet is a co-production of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and Mikrofilm AS of Norway, it has won both the Academy Award (the Oscar!) and Genie Award for best animated short film in 2006.

Slow Derek


After watching this animation by Dan Ojari I am not sure I will ever read one of those little information cards that you get in cereal packets again. Ever.  This animation tells the story of Slow Derek who, as the name suggest, like to take things at an easy pace.  However, one morning he reads an interesting planetary fact – on one of those infocards – and Derek learns how quickly the earth rotates.  Things are never the same again for Derek, poor soul, who can’t quite compute his new knowledge.

Who can blame him for getting in to something of a tizzy?  After all, at the equator, the circumference of the Earth is 40,070 kilometers, and the day is 24 hours long so the speed is 1670 kilometers/hour ( 1070 miles/hr). This decreases by the cosine of your latitude so that at a latitude of 45 degrees, cos(45) = .707 and the speed is .707 x 1670 = 1180 kilometers/hr.  This formula can be used to find the speed of rotation at any latitude.  I think I will go and sit down for a while.

Love From: MyVoucherCodes

With Valentine’s Day now a distant memory, you might be thinking the “what do I buy her?” dilemma has been put to rest for a while. However, with Mothering Sunday just over the horizon, it probably won’t be long before you’ll be wracking your brains for the answer once again.

However, when it comes to Mother’s Day, there really is no reason to feel tested. With most mums being happy with a bunch of withering carnations and a kiss on the cheek, even just a little more effort is guaranteed to be wildly appreciated. And in danger of being too sentimental, this is your mum we’re talking about; surely she deserves the very best?

So as lots of retailers start to fill stores with all sorts designed to spoil, now’s the perfect time to splash out. Whether you choose to treat her to a pampering experience day or a bouquet to bowl her over, check out the great gift ideas from every mum’s favourite: the Marks and Spencer sale. Alternatively, be sure to use a Wallis discount code for a great deal on jewellery, clothing, or endless other ways to treat the number one lady in your life.

Image Credit Flickr User Steeljam

18 February 2013

Fat


Life is good down on the farm until things start getting fat.  First one of the hens and then one by one the other animals suddenly inflate in size.  What is a farmer to do? If you have a certain Gallic insouciance you shrug your shoulders and get on with it – but one thing always seems to lead to another.

Incredibly, Fat is a student film.  It was directed by three Supinfocom students, Gary Fouchy, Yohann Auroux Bernard  and Sebastien De Oliveira Bispo as their graduation film in 2011.

Can You Watch This Video Without Yawning?


Have you ever wondered why you yawn simply by looking at someone who is in the process of yawning themselves? No one is quite sure why this happens but one thing is for sure – watch the video above and the chances are you will be yawning within a minute.  I know I was. That was something of a relief because I read somewhere that contagious yawners score lower on the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire which was designed to see if people had somewhat altered perceptions of reality which could lead to paranoia. So, phew.

I am sure that if you watched the video and didn’t yawn, however, that it does not mean you are inevitably heading for a psychotic break.

The video was created by Daniel Mercadante using found footage from the internet.

17 February 2013

Daleks Cross Westminster Bridge in Recreation of Iconic Sixties Episode

Early this morning, the Daleks invaded Earth - again.  The most infamous enemies of a certain space and time traveling Timelord known as the Doctor took over central London and struck fear once more in the heart of its citizens.  Yet something seemed eerily familiar as they glided over Westminster Bridge on their path to planetary domination and conquest – a definite sense of déjà vu.

It wouldn’t have been the first time that the timey wimey thing had foxed us.  Yet, for older viewers of the BBC TV series Doctor Who, which in 2013 is celebrating fifty years since it first went on air the scene could have triggered some long distant memories of a time when they had seen something remarkably like this before.  Plus, weren’t those Daleks a different model than those featured in the series since its 2005 reboot?

16 February 2013

The Day the Lights Went Out


Light pollution is becoming more and more of a problem and this short film illustrates the issue in a charming manner.

In fact this was created by Madhouse Video who were approached by the US National Park Service and Global Explorers who are working together to promote appreciation of starry night skies and natural darkness.

There are numerous reasons why we should be concerned about the amount of light that we produce. The preservation of dark skies is important for many reasons including astronomy, energy conservation, cost, wildlife and even human health.

John Henry and The Railroad


Do you like your tales tall? Then settle in for the story of John Henry and the Railroad.  John Henry is an American folk hero whose name and reputation has been used, over the years, in the struggle for Civil Rights and the Labor Movement.  We travel back to the 1870s to witness John, a freed slave, and his son apply for work as steel-drivers – a physically arduous task hammering out the railway lines and chiselling rock to create tunnels.

Yet even though John’s team looks like it will be successful in completing their contract something diabolical turns up – which will give John Henry the greatest challenge of his life.  This joyously created short movie dramatizes this encounter but it is as much a film about the relationship between father and son as it is the competition between man and machine.  It was created by Atlanta based Whitestone Motion Pictures and was written and directed by Brandon McCormick and produced by McCormick with Nicholas Kirk.  It stars E Roger Mitchell as John Henry with Michael Iluma as Young Jack Henry and Eugene H Russell as the narrator.

10 February 2013

The Timey Wimey of Doctor Who


Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff has been going in a certain British TV show for decades now and as it has entered its fiftieth year it is only right that we feature the good Doctor a little more (even) than usual.

Currently the lead writer and executive producer of the show, Steven Moffat puts it well when he says that “You can be dealing with the consequences of an action that you have not yet performed. That’s brilliant.”

It seems in the universe of Doctor Who, some moments in time are fixed and some are not but we simply have to go along for the ride!  Don’t worry if you don’t quite get it, really. Sometimes even the Doctor becomes a little frustrated by these laws and so he went just a little more bonkers than usual in the excellent (and under repeated) Waters of Mars. This cool piece of film was created for BBC America and features a number of contributors including Chris Hardwick, Eugene Mirman and Chloe Dykstra.

This documentary short was cut by Bogdan Szabo of Infinity Plus One.

Image Credit The Daring Librarian


Ben Wilson: The Chewing Gum Man


A couple of years ago we featured the work of Ben Wilson (left) who has scoured the streets of London for years with one thing of his mind – to transform the gum that the people leave behind in to art.  So it was great to discover this short film by Ed Elmsley and Tom Millen.

They were able to follow Wilson around and record his thoughts and feelings as he created his chewing gum art.  We get a glimpse in to the process of how Wilson ensures that his work lasts more than a few days.  It also serves as a snapshot of the UK under the present government and how, despite effectively disenfranchising a lot of people, there are still those who chose to voice their dissent in a less than usual manner.


Painkiller


I wasn’t going to feature Painkiller on Kuriositas as it is a little more extreme in some ways than the short films we normally show in terms of language and violence.  Yet since I watched it a week or two it has had what I can only call a resonant effect on me, by which I mean I keep recalling moments from the film not to mention the fact I have been trying to work out where its moral center lies – it certainly has one but I am unsure of its exact geography!  Perhaps it is up to the individual to decide that.

For many of us who live in urban areas, Painkiller centers around one of our worst nightmare scenarios – to be caught up in the middle of a holdup in a grocery store.  Yet for would be robber, the savvy and street wise Dominic, one customer, Jay, presents something of a surprise - and a problem.  I won’t give any spoilers here apart from that teaser but it is something which makes this black comedy a much more complex issue-driven film than you might expect.

Although five actors are given credit this is really a two-header between the main protagonists, Dominic and Jay.  Benedict Wong is moving and full of pathos as the pained taxi-driver Jay.  You may recognize his face from any number of British dramas such as Spooks, Top Boy, The IT Crew and Law and Order (UK)

Yet the film belongs to young Gambian-British actor Franz Drameh (left) who you may have caught in Attack the Block.  He gives an assured, enigmatic performance as the confident yet ultimately sympathetic Dominic – a sociopath with a sociable side.  This short film promises great things for and from him in the future.  One can only hope that the number of roles for young black actors in the UK increases as otherwise we will probably see him putting on an American accent in a prime-time US show.

Painkiller is a BBC Writersroom and B3 Media commissioned short film. BBC Writersroom identifies and champions new writing talent and diversity across BBC Drama, Entertainment and Children's programmes, here represented by writer Selina Lim and director Mustapha Kseibati.  Painkiller was produced by Michael Berliner of Pico Pictures, a London-based film production company.

Revolution: The Story of a Single Water Droplet


You could almost call this the story of water as Revolution shows the journey cycle of a single drop of water.  Using the notion of a popup book we see the various processes which make up the water cycle: condensation, infiltration, runoff, evaporation, precipitation and transpiration.  Who said that science had to be boring?

Revolution is a collaborative film by photographer Chris Turner, animator Jess Deacon and paper engineer Helen Friel who, from original idea to execution, pooled their individual talents to bring the project to life.


9 February 2013

Ice Storm: Splendor in Devastation

An ice storm brings misery with it, predictable and inescapable.  Yet even in midst of natural disaster, beauty may be discovered.  The ice covers everything, like some vast experiment in cryogenics.  Fruit, flowers, branches – all are encased within its merciless grip, perfectly frozen in time until the thaw inevitably comes.  There is splendor in devastation.

One Man


When a girl is in peril only one man can save her! This is an animated short for any of you who have sat watching a superhero movie rolling your eyes and thinking what a complete narcissistic waste of space the guy at the center of the action is – especially the way that he takes forever to save the damsel in distress.

Not only that, but while he is taking forever to save her, his heroics in the pursuit of glory seem to be a device in place simply to sate the need to cram as many explosions and crashes in the movie as possible.

The direction, story and CG Art of One Man is by Graciliano Camargo who developed this short for his final project at Méliès School of Cinema, 3D and Animation.

Bob


Bob by Weird Al' Yankovic is one of those songs which can be incredibly irritating as, ostensibly, it means very little. The fact it’s clever (one could even say pallin-dramatic!) might not endear it any further to some but it certainly grabbed the attention of Oliver Smith. He was looking for a song which contained as many potential fake film titles as possible.

He managed to find 38 in total – all of which could, at one level or another, be given to a movie as its title. The result is something quite ingenious. My own favorite comes early in with a possible Gene Wilder movie To Hot to Hoot. You will see many major movie stars and a number of famous studios and director name checked in the next few minutes…

8 February 2013

Doomed: A Biological Cartoon


I must confess I have often watched the likes of David Attenborough and other natural world presenters on the TV and hardly given a thought for the amount of time and effort that has gone in to their work.  The time and energy spent in sometimes capturing just a few moments of  film is often immense.

Spare a thought, then, for the makers of this, ahem, documentary.  El Señor Studio has created what we didn’t know that we had been waiting for all this time.  Here are the failures of natural selection. We have the cube fish which by its very shape seems destined for a dinner plate and then we have the poor old inverted hedgehog (pictured).  This sad little species has its spines on the inside and has to be very careful not to sneeze.  Altogether this animated short, written and directed by Guillermo Garcia Carsi, shows introduces to a host of species which are, as the title indicates, doomed.

5 February 2013

Help the Airfood Project



Each year the European Food Aid helps out millions of people who would otherwise not get access to food which helps with their basic nutritional needs.  Yet this emergency aid scheme is currently under threat.  For an organisation which has helped out 18 million Europeans over a 25 year period you can easily see that its abolition would be detrimental to the health of a huge number of people.

To help protest against this threat, the Airfood Project has been set up and it is really easy to get involved and join in.  You can film yourself performing an airfood session (if you have ever played air guitar this will come naturally!) and share the video.  You can also go to the Airfood Project site and sign the petition there – and please get your friends to sign it too.

Every year European Food Aid helps out so many people and now in a time of deep economic recession the decision has made to close it.  Your local political decision makers will know about this, so you could email them… you could even tweet your head of state (which will only take seconds) to ask them to reconsider this decision.

You may be surprised that in this day and age so many Europeans need food aid but for many it is essential for their survival.  If this decision is not reversed then airfood may become a reality to a great number of Europeans.

Sponsored Post

2 February 2013

Alien Nations: Up Close and Impersonal with Insects and Spiders

Over at the Ark in Space there are a number of insects and spiders awaiting your company.  Don't think you will be able to squish these representatives of seemingly alien nations on Earth, however. Thanks to macrophotography they look as big as you or I - and a few of them look like they would quite fancy us for their tea too!

Above is the eight eyes of a Hentzia palmarum Jumping Spider - or as many as can be seen without a 360 degree pan.  Head over to the Ark in Space for the rest of the collection.

Image Credit Flickr User Thomas Shahan

The Flying Duck Orchid - Australia's Other Amazing Anatine Attraction

The Caleana is more often known as the Duck Orchid – and for fairly obvious reasons.  It looks like a duck in flight, its wings swept back, head and beak held high and proud. This attractive yet amusing addition to the orchid genus is a native of Australia, famed perhaps more for its marsupials than its mallards (platypodes aside).  Yet as a result of the shape of its labellum (or lip) its anatine association will be that by which it is always remembered.

The labellum which gives the duck orchid its distinct characteristics is a vital part of its strategy to propagate the species.   Botanically speaking, the labellum is the part of the flower which has developed to attract the insects which, it is hoped, will pollinate the flower.  Furthermore, its length and breadth serves as a landing pad for the insect – in the case of the duck orchid that insect is the sawfly.

Dramatic Iceland


Iceland is home to one of nature’s more spectacular phenomena – the aurora borealis.  Claus and Anna Possberg recently stayed on the most appropriately named island in the world and captured the wonderful natural sights at the Jokülsarlon glacial lake. Iceland in the winter is a remarkable place – and, oh, the lights!

The music accompanying this amazing footage is Alpha Command by Justin R Durban.

Eyes on the Stars


Eyes on the Stars may well bring a tear or two to your own.  It tells the story of the day the nine year old Ronald E. McNair was drawn to his local library. Yet his attempts to borrow some books led with disapproval and denial – the library was 'not for coloreds'.

Nevertheless this young boy persevered and was destined to become only the second African-American in space.  McNair was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA astronaut program.

On January 28, 1986, the day which was to be McNair’s second journey on the shuttle, the NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when it exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. McNair was killed along with the six other astronauts on board.

This story is told by his brother, Carl.  It was created by Story Corps, a truly amazing organisation which provides Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives.

Eyes on the Stars is a wonderful tribute to McNair (left) and, indeed, all those others like him who strive to better themselves and those around them through education and then go on to break new ground.

1 February 2013

Stardust


When Dutch graphic designer Arjan Groot died last year his colleagues at PostPanic in Amsterdam created Stardust to strectch their own creative CGI techniques to create something to commemorate his life. Stardust is the end result of that particularly personal project. Directed by Mischa Rozema it focuses on Voyager 1 which is the furthest man-made object away from the sun.

The crux of the concept is that as we are all stardust then nothing, however short-lived, is ever wasted. Our memories of our loved ones persist in the very fabric of the universe. What an incredibly moving, inspired and imaginative way to celebrate the life of a friend who has returned to stardust.
Amung Feedjit
Follow Kuriositas on Facebook