Fredonia Shakespeare Club views film ‘Why Man Creates’

The Fredonia Shakes-peare Club met recently for its 15th regular meeting of the 2013-2014 year, hosted at her home by Mrs. Rosie Sanden. Mrs. Robert Woodbury presided at the meeting.

In accordance with the theme for the year “Creativity & the Spark of Genius,” Sanden presented the film “Why Man Creates” and led a discussion of it. The presentation was about graphic artist Saul Bass followed by a streamed version of his 1968 Oscar-winning documentary titled “Why Man Creates,” available on YouTube.

Although Saul Bass’s name is not familiar to the general public, much of his work is immediately recognizable.

Born in 1920, he was a pioneer in the field of graphic design and his work in logo design, film, and theatre is still highly respected and even imitated by today’s artists.

Beginning in the 1950s, Bass did the opening credits and graphic design for such early films as “Psycho,” “Man with a Golden Arm,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Exodus.”

Bass even persuaded the reluctant Alfred Hitchcock to do the abrupt, shocking close up shots of Janet Leigh in Psycho’s infamous shower scene.

His theatre posters are still highly collectible and available online. Among the many, many logos he designed that are still used by companies and organizations are those of AT&T, IBM, the United Way, and Quaker Oats. He continued to produce outstanding work throughout the second half of the 20th century, including posters for the film “Schindler’s List” in 1993. He died three years later in 1996.

“Why Man Creates” subtitled “a series of explorations, episodes and comments on creativity,” is still judged a masterpiece, a testament to the graphic techniques which Bass developed.

His film illustrates how essential imagination has been to creative thinking, problem-solving, invention and the arts throughout human history.

Bass used a combination of animation and live action to explore the concept of creativity within the individual’s mind at play and then from the point of view of societal perception.

The 29-minute film consists of nine mini-episodes, each lasting from a minute to four minutes. These present the viewer with a capsulized vision of human inventiveness and creativity throughout history.

Sanden and Dr. Susan Besemer, as well as many other teachers and professors, have used this film in class to stimulate their own students’ creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

After this introduction, Mrs. Sanden gave members an outline guide of the seven brief episodes in the film. The first 4-minute episode, The Edifice, is an extremely clever cartoon synopsis of the entire history of human philosophies, discoveries, inventions, and arts. The next two, Fooling Around and The Process, deal with how creativity proceeds. This is then followed by The Judgment in which members of society at large make astute and less astute comments.

The fifth episode, A Parable, features an odd ball, a ping pong ball that bounces higher and farther than his fellow ping pong balls.

The last two sections titled A Digression and The Search again return to the way creativity has proceeded throughout human history.

Shakespeare Club members then pondered their own answers to the question: What is it that drives us human beings to create “something rather than nothing?”

After the presentation, Mrs. Sanden called the group for refreshments. She was assisted at the table by Dr. Susan Besemer. At the next meeting of the Club, to be hosted by Mrs. Arthur Walker at her home, Walker will present her paper on Louis Pasteur.