The Odyssey | The Paper Cinema

April 2014 | BAC, London

The Paper Cinema impresses its audiences with quirky illustrations and an original live score in this atmospheric and charming adaptation of the classic story.

Their Odyssey is a great example for the use of projectors and live feed cameras in a theatre, starting with the prologue in which the protagonist is drawn before us. Scenes float across the screen, soft illustrations that are sufficiently expressive yet light-hearted and poetic. As a fan of both silent film and graphic novels, I found this miniature theatre made for great storytelling. Part of the fun is the exposure of the performers constructing the images, using their makeshift props and rotating backdrops; a small arrow flies through the trees and slays a boar, Penelope’s suitors hound her as wolves, encircling her home, a motorbike speeds through the night as part of several montages including extensive travels and changing weather. The animators manage to create life from these static images by carefully manipulating the audience perspective, creating a sense of perpetual movement and rhythm in order to focus attention on particular minute details.

Abstract storytelling is not beyond them either, with the ability to illustrate what the characters are thinking. Various camera techniques like soft focusing for dream states or pinhole images in the protagonist’s mind (as projected on the forehead of Odysseus) offer the audience insight and context while music is used to enhance and suggest an emotional state.

Paper Cinema succeed in turning one dimensional images into a great cinematic experience of raging storms, love stories and epic adventures with the ability to switch from material to abstract ideas both thematically and theatrically, proving its collaborative style a winner. The Odyssey is imaginative, compelling and works for both adults and children.

4 thoughts on “The Odyssey | The Paper Cinema”

  1. I saw this one last time it was at BAC, and it’s worth mentioning that fans of Homer’s Odyssey will be able to spot lots of very cute little references to the original text. A particularly memorable leitmotif is ‘Rosey-fingered Dawn’ cropping up as a literal sunrise of fingers at the start of each chapter.

    1. Or for that matter, what reference? If I were a meticulously formatted and and erudite reference such as ‘Eugenio Barba, A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology (London: Routledge, 2005), pp.113-114.’ or ‘Ibid.’ then I too would be bound to take offence at such a patronisingly off-hand label as ‘cute.’ ‘Acute’ would be a great improvement, but I would prefer something more along the lines of ‘thorough’ or ‘well-researched’.

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