The Sound of Silence : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

I am yet still alive, a quiet mood. A thought occurs to me as I gaze upon my doujinshi (what kind of doujinshi we won't get into right now): The vast majority of this stuff is untranslated Japanese. I know they're saying SOMETHING, I just don't know what. So I have to let the pictures tell the story. This is kind of nice, actually, ecpecially in the more action based stories. Gets down to cases without all that pointless dialogue. I don't NEED to hear a character say "Oh no! I'm out of gas!" When the panel clearly shows the needle pointing to the E. (After reading a few translations, I have found that much of the dialogue is actually like this.) Even when the characters are just talking to each other, I can usually tell the basics of what they're saying by their body language. The whole thing is just much simpler and just....cooler without words. Perhaps this explains why I like the Aeon Flux shorts so much. Other Thoughts For The Day: I have now (finally) recieved the first few episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena. The Wakaba thing was kind of confusing at first. I'm still trying to figure out Miki and his stopwatch. Love the Shadow Girls. And did you see the dub of the big Messiah vs. Antichrist episode of Sailormoon? They called it "Darkness My Old Friend." *snicker* Of course, even in the Japanese version this episode wasn't so great. Easily the best episodes of the season were the one where Uranas and Neptune get their hearts stolen (directed by His Holiness, Kunihiko Ikuhara) and the one where they get them back.

-- Frostbite (, August 01, 2000


Kristine, it seems we share an arcane enjoyment of untranslated Japanese visual narratives. I agree that with Japanese comics and animation, their impact, mystery and meanings are sometimes enhanced by virtue of being in an incomprehensible language. I've often found that the translated versions don't live up to what I'd imagined. I find myself reading deeper into the visual cues than I would with the support of words. The Aeon Flux shorts were unquestionably influenced by my desire to exploit this tendency. You could say that I wanted them to play like films in a foreign language where I dispensed with the language. For me, the AF shorts have strong replay value in a way similar to instrumental music. My hope is to work further with non-verbal storytelling in my future projects.

Also, my dreams are almost always non-verbal. A recurring feature of my dreams is that my voice becomes paralyzed and I'm unable to speak; I sometimes strain my throat with the effort to produce a sound, and I practically suffocate. Talking to strangers has always been hard for me, so maybe my dreams reflect this.

As for Revolutionary Girl Utena, my hat's off to Toei studios and Mr. Ikuhara. While I found the T.V. series enjoyable for the first few episodes, it quickly became fomulaic and overly mannered. However... the movie blew me away. Utterly and unabashedly great. Everything I could have hoped for and more. Produced for what must have been about 5% of the budget of bloated and dull-witted American animation supposedly aimed-at-older-viewers, namely, Titan A.E.

(I'm ragging on Fox Animation because back at the point when the movie was called Planet Ice and they fired the original director, they called me in and asked me to offer ideas on how to salvage the project. I made many specific suggestions and did revised character designs, to which they responded warmly; they then told me they couldn't actually implement any of them, and proceeded to kick the whole stinking mess over to Don Bluth, who apparently found nothing wrong with the original script and produced the turkey you've no doubt smartly avoided. Fox must have changed the title from Planet Ice when the project was in trouble, figuring that Titan A.E. sounded more like Titanic, their earlier mega-hit. However, I don't believe that their failure sets back the prospects for more mature-themed animation. I like to think that the audience is always ready to accept anything good.)

Oh, and I got back from Korea about a week ago with Checkers/Rally's #5 completed. After I'm done moving into my new house, I'm planning on devoting all my energies to my new independent feature project. Sorry, but I'm not giving away any info until I'm ready, so don't ask. I'll be happy to talk about anything else, though.

-- Peter Chung (, August 06, 2000.

Welcome Back Peter Chung!!! You left a hole in this forum when you left, but how wonderful that you got to go and do what you love best, animate. Lot's of luck with your new house, and really great to hear that you're soon to begin working on your new independent project, because that means it will be your canvas to paint, and I wonder what palette you're choosing, but an artist reveals his creation when he's ready. So, a polite audience will wait, because they know it's worth waiting for. As always, the inside info about this industry is fascinating, and I'm not surprised when I hear of the repeated choices that lead to so many 'turkeys'. When the artist doesn't get to call the shots, the work always suffers. They never learn. BTW, I named my new kitten Aeon, she's black, and jumps all over everything, just like...

-- Barb e. (, August 06, 2000.

Yes, welcome back! I for one am very appreciative of your presence here, and I think it's safe for me to say that everyone else here is as well.

Your comments about the replay value of the shorts are dead on, a good analogy. As far as the distraction of foreign sounds in a film, I find that when I'm watching an untranslated foreign film, I tend to look at the characters lips and facial expressions more often than at the subtitles, usually causing me to miss some little verbal detail. I think it's the way my mind works, I tend to prefer gesticulation, which I suppose is why I tend to be more drawn to the shorts than the longer episodes.

Peter, I can identify with your lack of voice in dreams. I'm victim to extreme nearsightedness, and my equivalent is sometimes being "forced" to endure long and otherwise exciting or interesting dreams without the benefit of clear vision, really frustrating. I also tend to stumble around like an idiot, probably flashbacks from feeling awkward in high school.

Hmm, Titan AE bad? I would never have thought it :) I was seriously considering seeing it a few times but never got around to it. I didn't expect much anyway. Maybe on video eventually. I saw "Anastasia" and wondered what the fuss was all about concerning Fox Studio's great breakthrough into the industry. It was nothing more than a reiteration of what Disney puts out every year or two, and I though the animation quality was even worse. From what I've seen, Titan AE seemed about the same, only without the musical aspect. Then again, I've heard that the movie was filled with overplayed pop hits, which is equally as bad.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 06, 2000.

Also, concerning the shorts, I sometimes find the music distracting. It's excellent music, but very complex in its own right and sometimes I even think, too complex for these films. It tends to draw me in a bit too deeply at times. I've found that after turning down the volume, it's possible to see the shorts in a completely different light, or at least, more clearly.

Concerning the matter of the music of AF, Peter, I've always wondered how involved you were with the development of it and how it fit with the imagery and events of a story. Did you basically let Drew work all that out on his own, or did you have specific intentions on what you wanted the music to be like? My own feelings about filmmaking place music on as high a pedestal as imagery, taking fully half of the credit for the total experience, and when I get ideas for a story, I often dwell on the musical aspect as much as any other. I personally would have a hard time making the visual half of a film then leaving it entirely up to someone else to develop the musical half of it, I'd prefer to have strict control.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 06, 2000.

Peter, what you said about your dreams interests me. A few years ago there was a series of books very popular, by Carlos Castaneda, basically the story of a young man who goes to Mexico and meets a sorcerer, of the Yaqui Indian tribe. One of the things he is taught is that the nonverbal 'spaces' in a man's internal dialogue is where the sorcerer must go, for that is where the magic works. That passage made me realize that it is through language that we are socialized into thoughts and ideas of others, perhaps you unconsciously recognize that these 'words we live by' also constrict the inner natural mind from working out thoughts of our own, and your being unable to speak is symbolic of not being able to think for yourself. Just a thought.

-- Barb e. (, August 06, 2000.

Barb, I concur completely with your view of the restrictive power of language. Too often, artificial tools such as language, the law, religion, money, and politics are seen as ends in themselves and not as constructs invented to facilitate social life. There are lawyers who hold that the states we call "guilty" and "innocent" cannot exist without a judicial process which confers them. In other words, an offender has not committed a crime until a judge has pronounced him guilty. This is an extreme case of denial of the world in favor of the word.

Matt, I cannot give enough credit to the contribution of Drew's music to the effectiveness of AF episodes, especially the shorts. Our collaborative process was different in each case. There were a few rare occasions when I asked for changes and he reworked passages, but for the most part, he had an uncanny sense of what a particular sequence needed. Usually, he'd come up with ways to tell the story with sound which I could never have dreamed of, let alone asked for. Of course, many creative solutions arise by spontaneous improvisation in any field-- but being non-musically gifted, I was mostly baffled by Drew's methods. After sending him the edited picture, I usually talked to him at length about what ambience I wanted and talked him through specific points that had to be emphasized. Then, after having stayed up for three days straight and guzzling gallons of coffee, Drew would call me and play a tape of the music he'd created over the phone, and I'd be listening with a huge grin on my face and interjecting, "great, great...."

While I might agree with you that in the viewing experience, the music may carry half the load of the film's impact, it's still the story and picture which define the composer's choices (except for music videos and the odd exception like Fantasia). I believe that a well-directed film will communicate its emotions and ideas effectively even before the music is added. The music exists to enhance and support the picture, and not the other way around. Music tracks are a stylistic convention that we've learned to accept. Their desirability (Titan AE notwithstanding) is just another argument against the pursuit of strict realism in film.

Matt, don't bother with Titan AE, even on video (it'll be out any day now, I guess). But instead run at the first chance you get to see the Utena movie "Apocalypse of Adolescence", in Japanese, if necessary.

-- Peter Chung (, August 07, 2000.

Peter, thanks for the tip, I'll definitely look into it. I've tended not to explore Japanese animation in the past, with the exception of a few, more popular/big-budget films (I.E. "Ghost in the Shell", "Akira"), but with all this talk on the subject, that may be changing for me very soon. Often I've been turned off by the "genre" (if you can call it that. Surely Japanese animation shouldn't be confined and generalized into one single group, that'd be like putting "Aeon Flux" and "Dumbo" in the same boat and calling it all "American animation"). I've always sort of been turned off by the idea of Americans watching Japanese animation in order to dwell on the bizarre, Japanese pop culture aspects of it (and building a subculture around it), rather than on the actual filmic value. I've seen a lot of this and it kind of disenchanted me, maybe unfairly. There's nothing wrong with watching the stuff for those reasons, but I never could identify with it. Also, a lot of Japanese animation I've seen briefly has been so full of stereotypical conventions of the "genre" that it seems formulaic to me. Of course, I'm certain there must be exceptions, and this conversation has prompted me to start looking for them.

On the subject of music in a film, I agree with you in that certain films need not have highly-developed musical scores, such as documentaries or realistic movies. But I do still believe that certain types of movies benefit from finding a fine balance between expressive visuals and script on the one hand and an equally expressive musical score on the other, with neither more emphasized than the other. I'm not sure I've ever seen a film like this, but I'd like to see it done at some point. I think most people are trained to gloss over the music of a movie, and that often the music is geared toward just being in the background. I'd like to see this changed.

Come to think of it, there are some films I can think of that possibly come close to this, such as "La Femme Nikita", "The Professional", and "The Fifth Element". These are entertaining movies, all by Luc Besson. I've noticed that the way he uses music (usually by the highly dramatic Eric Serra) sort of brings it to the forefront, and (especially in "The Fifth Element") even almost lets it behave as a character in itself. Coincidentally, the volume of the music seems to be higher than in other movies I've seen, forcing it to be felt. In these films the music really deepens the emotional impact, where perhaps there was very little to be found in the expressions or dialogue alone. I suppose this is what I'm getting at; I'm having a hard time expressing myself here. But I hope you all get the picture.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 07, 2000.

Oh, as far as music videos, I've always been a fan of them in general, not really the typical "show the band" types but the more innovative and "cinematic" ones. Considering the emphasis I place on the importance of music in film, I guess that's understandable. I think many music videos are great short films, perhaps not always exploring concepts as in-depth as other films world, but certainly are fine audiovisual works in themselves. Some of my favorite directors are, or were, known primarily for the videos they've done (Mark Romanek, especially, and David Fincher). Romanek's video for Madonna's "Bedtime Story" is a favorite of mine, it manages to capture the idea of a dreamstate perfectly, and the images are haunting. This is one director I'd really like to see branch out into more conventional, narrative film.

To clarify, in case I didn't convey this, I guess what I'd like to see (or make, for that matter) is a film in which the images and events are drawn as much from the music as the music is drawn from the images and events, each drawing from the other in a sort of neverending wheel until a balance is created. I guess it would have to be unconventional by its very nature, maybe it wouldn't even work well as a film, but I think with delicacy it could have a chance.

God, I'm blabbering. I guess I should become a filmmaker. :)

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 07, 2000.

Peter! What a surprise, welcome back. So you are a real regular with checkers/Rally these days. Hope we will see the new one soon. I can't wait to see your new project, I think that it is really different that you want to make non-verbal animation. I think I read once that dreams play a part in your creation, is that true? Do you have any dreams from a long time ago that you still hope to one day make into a film, of any length? Do you think that your mind is more relaxed and liable to be more creative when you sleep? Have you ever dreamt of Aeon Flux? Hope this isn't too many questions, thanks for any answers.

-- KM (, August 08, 2000.

Peter, this column is aptly named. Does this always happen to you? ahh the drawbacks of being god around here. Well, I certainly do not mean to be irreverent, but I really do just love Aeon, and to just plain be able to ask the artist questions is too much for me, there are times when I just admire the artwork and the colors, I love the skies, gorgeous colors, but I really do want to ask, what is the attraction between Trevor and Aeon all about? They certainly have different views, I guess I ask this because, like everyone else, I'm aware that this sort of thing really happens between people, they are attracted to someone who is totally different from them. I can't help but wonder, is it an inner draw to change on the part of them? Or just some physical thing? Some people say it's like a soul mate? Indicating more a metaphysical plane to it. This affair you created has real depth, real cosmic reaching implications, you know. It's quite fascinating, really. Not just anime to me.

-- Barb e (, August 08, 2000.

Barb, I'm sorry, but I really do think that this is one of those questions that are better left unanswered. I will say this: in my experience of falling in love, the strength of my feelings of attraction has always been in inverse proportion to the natural compatibility of the person desired. Isn't that what makes love so tragic and comic at the same time?

-- Peter Chung (, August 09, 2000.

To KM - or do I call you Kitty? Dreams have always played a great part in my creative work; I'd even say they are my most important source of ideas. I'd be happy to some day succeed in conveying on film to others the intensity and urgency conveyed to me in my dreams. I believe that the conscious mind is inhibited by learned patterns of thought and expression. Our brains have evolved to filter out thoughts which interfere with the task of day-to-day survival. But dreams (and other-conscious states) offer an experience of pure awareness. These experiences are as often as not delusional, but I'd hold that they are no more so than the reasoned opinions of, say, our nation's leaders. (I guess this isn't surprising, considering how many of them used drugs) And when dreams do speak the truth, their impact is devastating.

Creating art is an attempt to reify a subjective state of consciousness; I'd grade the value of a work of art based on the level of specificty and elusiveness of what is being defined by it. For this reason, David Lynch's work rates highly, while Steven Spielberg doesn't even make the cut. Lynch demands that I shift my consciousness, because to attempt to use my ordinary patterns of everyday thinking in understanding his work will leave me lost. With Spielberg, the agenda seems to be to normalize even the most rarefied events; and never to require the viewer to be anyone but himself. It's ironic that Lynch's films are considered esoteric; in fact, his themes are the primary states from which we are drifting out of touch. I understand them by unlearning the habits of expectation that are not of myself. By trusting my own responses to what I'm seeing, I can't go wrong. To me, Eraserhead is not a weird film. Lost Highway -- it might as well be the story of my life. (By contrast, Indiana Jones movies are alienating and irrelevant -- but by their method, they stroke the viewer's responses to make them seem gripping.)

By the way, it seems that this forum has become much like a collaborative diary for a small group of people. Barb e, Frostbite, and Matthew, you really let it all hang out. Matthew, please blabber all you want. It's fun for us to trace your struggle to clarify yourself on torturous trains of thought. We're all doing it here.

-- Peter Chung (, August 09, 2000.

Tortuous trains of thought - how right you are. I'm glad someone can understand, and thanks for that! It's actually fun and frustrating at once to work out my ideas through discussion. While growing up, my mom and I would have long, engaging discussions (borderline arguments) on metaphysics. Art for me is an elusive concept that even I have a hard time defining for myself, something that I know when I feel it, but to describe it is quite another thing unfortunately. I suppose it must be intuitive and undefined for me. For me, art is, among other things, a therapy. One of my motivations to become an artist is to convey to people who know me my inner state, which I could never describe to them in words, either out of embarrasment or sheer inability. For me, art is a selfish pursuit.

Anyway, if it is fun for others to read about all this, than all the better. :) I am impressed, thought, with how this group has evolved into a somewhat tightly-knit gathering based on topics sparked by but beyond Aeon Flux. Especially lately, I think it's been very fruitful and has definitely triggered my mind to work even harder.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 09, 2000.

And as for love... Peter, I cannot agree more. What you described has been a continuing theme in the stories I've been writing, probably because it's been a continuing theme in my own life. Thanks to you, as well, for spilling yourself out in words.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 09, 2000.

As regards love: Sometimes it seems attraction is heightened by spaces of time in which a person can safely reflect on their feelings, and this seems to happen more when compatability is low, as there is fewer moments of closeness. Does this makes sense?

-- Mary Brody (, August 09, 2000.

Oh Peter! When I first read your answer to my question about the nature of the relationship between Aeon and Trevor, I felt so blue, because you felt it best not to answer that question. Then I noticed something, you said, 'the strength of your feelings of attraction INCREASES when the compatibility is inverse, and that is what makes love so tragic and comic at the same time'. You compared their relationship with love.

-- Barb e (, August 10, 2000.

So much to think about with the comment you made regarding dreams. Thoughts and expression are placed into our minds with the language of others daily. To recognize dreams as pure awareness, and then draw from it as a source for artistic expression is no easy feat. What you said about D. Lynch, 'unlearning the habits of expectation that are not from myself' and to trust your own responses, a lot said in that. Pretty good thoughts there, it's sure nice to digest these ideas of yours.

-- Barb e. (, August 11, 2000.

love is alot like an old acoustic guitar: the more you eat, the less time you spend in line

-- scott (, August 11, 2000.

Sounds like a koan, to me. I see your point.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 11, 2000.

As JMS has said many times in Babylon 5 "there are no words." Sometimes trying to write emotions is an almost impossible task. When I try to describe love I can mention all the symptoms, hearts pounding, eyes fluttering, the tears of relief but the emotion itself is unapproachable, it would be easier nailing smoke to the wall I think.

-- TK (, August 12, 2000.

Woah. I should have checked back sooner.

-- Frostbite (, August 12, 2000.

Oh, incidentally, I've seen more Utena now. I am now convinced that Anthy is either extremely cunning or extremely lucky. She might even be psychic (Hell, there has to be more to being the Rose Bride than having a sword stuck in your chest). She's also slightly insane, which is nice too. I'm looking forward to seeing more Anthy bits almost as much as I'm looking forward to seeing THE GODDESS NANAMI duel.

-- Frostbite (, August 12, 2000.

Mr. Chung!!!!!!!!! Welcome back!! I am so happy to see that you have returned safley from Korea! What a surprise it was for me when i returned to the forum to see you!! I also have a new house and it has been very tiring to move! So i know what you must be going through. So i shall patiently wait for you to get urself situated, so that i may further enjoy ur presence in the forum. i was very interested to hear of your dreams playing a part in ur creative work!! I often find myself writing down certain dreams that i have, whether it be because it inspires me, or tugs at some hidden inner feeling within. I usally find some use in writing them down. I hope to see some news on ur new project very soon, I am truly excited to learn more of it!! Well, thanks for coming....oh and good luck on ur move!!! :O)

-- Lady Morgan (, August 12, 2000.

*sigh* Well, now I have seen the third and fourth videos of Utena and... wshew... that WAS dissapointing. Made even worse by the fact that my two favourite characters, Nanami and Touga, are now a psychotic moron and Just Plain Evil, respectively. And what is this "seven duels" buisness? Oh, and it turns out Anthy ISN'T more than she appears to be, after all. *sigh* Eh...

-- Frostbite (, August 13, 2000.

Apocalypse of Adolescence, here I come.

-- Frostbite (, August 13, 2000.

Oh, and the whole "Anthy is a zombie" thing simply Does Not Make Sense. Alright, I'll stop now.

-- Frostbite (, August 13, 2000.

Been meaning to say you don't have to stop on my account, I find your stuff about anime very informative, and it's interesting it brought Peter to us again, as you seem to have similiar outlooks.

-- Barb e. (, August 17, 2000.

Seriously. *explodes with pride*

-- Frostbite (, August 18, 2000.

By the way Peter; I came in late one night after seeing the mask drop from my inversely compatible others face, tears streaming from my eyes for hours, and not a friend in the world at hand to console me, until I came home and pulled up your post regarding love being tragic and comic. Yes. You're very right.

-- Barb e. (, September 03, 2000.

Interesting quote of the day, from Lizzard (regarding Kunihiko Ikuhara): "I've met him. He's a strange man. A VERY strange man, in fact. One might even go as far as to say Ikuhara is the ultimate example of insane intelligence. When asked why he made the

-- Frostbite (, September 10, 2000.

Ahhhh, shit. I'll try again.

Interesting quote of the day, from Lizzard (regarding Kunihiko Ikuhara): "I've met him. He's a strange man. A VERY strange man, in fact. One might even go as far as to say Ikuhara is the ultimate example of insane intelligence. When asked why he made the Utena movie, he just smiled, looked off into space, and replied that he wanted to turn pretty girls into cars."

-- Frostbite (, September 10, 2000.

Insane intelligence, I like that. One can understand, sort of like, mad genius.

-- Barb e. (, September 10, 2000.

People turning into cars? Sounds like something I've been thinking up lately (though maybe not that literally). I've really got to see this movie, anyone know when it's coming out here?

-- Matthew Rebholz (, September 11, 2000.

You can buy the first 13 episodes of Utena (dubbed) from A funsub of the movie can be found (among other places, I'm sure) at

-- Frostbite (, September 15, 2000.

Frost, Peter, I know what you mean about visual narrative... just last night, UCLA was screening Angel's Egg (actually a substitution, they couldn't get "Blood" in time). It was in raw Japanese, and completely blew me away. Truthfully, I don't think I missed much; there's hardly any dialogue. But the images that this film presents are haunting, and slightly baffling... I'm still not quite sure what that final image was. It's old, and not as gorgeous as, say, Utena, but just as good in it's own way. It made walking home at night an eerie experience.

Oh, and I saw the new Vampire Hunter D, which was pretty good. The character design actually reminded me a lot of Alexander, and John Lee's character is like a blood-sucking version of Trevor Goodchild. Recommended, but the one to really look out for is Angel's Egg (which apparently bombed at the Japanese box office). This has been a fascinating thread, I'll have to read some of that doujinshi sometime.

-- Paul (, November 01, 2000.

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