Wednesday, July 31, 2013
31 July 2013
Harry Potter b. 1980 (the character, not Daniel Radcliffe)
J. K. Rowling b. 1965
(won the 2001 Hugo for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Michael Biehn b. 1956 (Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss)
Richard Griffiths b. 1947 died 28 March 2013 (Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films)
Michael Biehn is the odd man out in this set of birthdays, as today would sensibly be celebrated at Harry Potter Day, since it is the birthday of the author and the character and one of the actors to boot.
Harry Potter is 33! Very likely wondering what he has done with his life since leaving school.
Many happy returns to the living on this list and a fond remembrance of Mr. Griffiths.
In the year 2000!
Prediction: ...[W]hen the phonograph has been developed, when moving pictures have been perfected, what a vast implement of amusement may be foreseen! Each of these inventions is comparatively new. We imagine... any sounds which have once existed in the presence of a recording machine can be reproduced at will... without any loss of timbre and quality...
[T]he actor's art, like the art of the executant musician, will have the endowment of permanency... By this fact not only will the pleasures of the theatre be made cheap, convenient and varied, but the art of the theatre will be vastly improved.
What [the actor] has once played can, if he choose, be constantly repeated. The executant will be paid by a royalty on each reproduction, when he is wise. Less prudent artists will sell their records for a lump sum, just as the unthrifty author sells his copyrights.
Predictor: T. Baron Russell in his 1905 book A Hundred Years Hence: The Expectations of an Optimist
Reality: Welcome to Wednesday, the first without my man-crush John Elfreth Watkins. His replacement is T. Baron Russell, who wrote several books at the the turn of the 20th Century but is nearly a ghost when it comes to biographical information. He has no page on Wikipedia, nor is this book mentioned there, though I have been able to find the entire text online.
As an intro, I put together several paragraphs and edited them. Expect to see the ellipsis in his quotes often, he is much more wordy than Watkins was. This is a very strong prediction, going from the phonograph and silent films of his day to talking pictures, improved sound fidelity, artists' royalties for film and the improvement of acting techniques. Wow, that's a strong set of assumptions. If you have any questions about the improvement of acting techniques, watch surviving talkies from before 1933 or so, like All Quiet on the Western Front or The Most Dangerous Game. These are considered classics, but the acting is ridiculously hammy. By the mid 1930s, actors had figured out how much they could tone down their gestures and facial expressions as well as deliver lines in a more natural way.
Not all Russell's predictions will be this great, but he's no slouch. I'm sure some readers will feel this change is like Curly being replaced by Shemp, but in the long run I hope it will feel more like Richard Harris being replaced by Michael Gambon.
Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
Another regular coming to the end of his run is Arthur C. Clarke. We will hear from him tomorrow.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!