Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Ontario Science Centre at 50 - Fabulous World

The Ontario Science Centre opened on September 26, 1969. In 1971 I made my first visit there as part of a school trip. The architecture and layout of the buildings, all interconnected by bridges and tunnels (containing escalators), made an impression on me. The exhibits, some of which exhibited and explained the explosion of technology, were equally memorable -- I remember playing with and being thrilled by the portable electronic calculator (which was secured to a table).

One of my strongest memories of the day concerns a certain motion picture which played in rotation at the museum's movie theatre. My dad played the role of a chaperone on that school trip, and he asked me if I wanted to see the flick as advertised by the one-sheet (showbill). I recognized which picture this was as I had seen it on German and French television a few times when we lived in (then) West Germany: The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (Original Czech: Vynález zkázy). I was enthralled and charmed.

On this side of the pond we got the slightly-Americanized version; complete with an unnecessary introduction by Hugh Downs. Almost certainly the print shown on my German-made telly was a dubbed version of the original Czech.

Interesting note: Pauline Kael, the Pauline Kael, liked Karel Zeman's The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. That's a seal of approval. (Ms Kael was second only to Leslie Halliwell in not liking a given film -- it would seem to me at times.)

I visited the Ontario Science Centre again in September of 1984 and noticed the differences right away -- technology.

Time to revisit....


Francois said...

Not exactly. But you remember quite well, though. It was the son-in-law of Karel Zeman that I met. Where where labouring studios at the NFB but I didn't actually worked for him. I was working with Ishulutaq Patel, from the same English Animation Studio. Zeman's son-in-law worked on all the very eccentric visual effects fantasy that their studio produced. They would shoot bi-pack loaded cameras on live action scenes to create in-camera live composites. Quite awesomely advanced stuff. I did the same on animation stands and 4 head optical prints. We talked a lot, changed ideas, but not really did anything together. After working 7 years on a film based on Native legends, the NFB cancelled his film before it was even finished. His executive producer had the brilliant (not so much) idea to show the unfinished film to natives that immediately screamed at "appropriation" and so this was the end of the project. He was so closed to be done, they should have just finished it, show it, get the bad reactions from the First Nations, then pull it out months later. At least the film would have had a chance and an audience for a short time.

Thanks for the blog.


Jon said...

Lots of good memories of that place. Of course what we thought of as 'high tech' in those days has changed...

Simon St. Laurent said...

Jon: That's often true. Also, "We'll all travel to work in our flying cars."

Francois: You are most welcome! Thanks for the informative notes! It sounds like there were some very creative times at the NFB.