James Stewart admiring a portrait of himself and his best mate, Harvey.
Harvey - Mary Chase
What can anyone say about this screenplay but that it is pure brilliance. Harvey tests the boundaries of reality with a mythological pooka and questions social perceptions of normality.
Made in 1950, staring James Stewart and Josephine Hull and based on the 1944 Pulitzer Prize winning play by the American playwright Mary Chase.
Critic Bosley Crowther commented "Josephine Hull plays Elwood's sister with such hilarious confusion and daft concern that she brings quite as much to the picture as does Mr. Stewart - or his pal to be sure...and it would be an unhappy screen version that did not contain her rotund frame, her scatter-brained fussing and fluttering and her angelic gentleness of soul." (New York Times, December 22 1950).
Gentleness of soul is precisely the essence that is captured. Hilarious, wise and profoundly moving. The film performances are outstanding and leaves the viewer marvelling at the outstanding levels of craft of all those involved in creating this exceptional piece of work.
Chase parodies ideas about mental health systems and patient treatment. She brings to life unique characters who each possess flaws, vulnerabilities and strengths. Her witty dialogue, and insight into social prejudice, combine to create a comedy that withstands the tests of time.
Axolotl - Julio Cortaza
Cortaza, a brilliant artist who exploited grammatical conventions to create conceptual masterpieces.
"There was a time when I thought a great deal about the axolotls. I went to see them in the aquarium at the Jardin des Plantes and stayed for hours watching them, observing their immobility, their faint movements. Now I am an axolotl."
Read the short story here and see how he manipulates ambiguity, obsession to detail, and point of view to create a transformation from human to axolotl.
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Simply presented, yet a tale that is imaginative and complex. This story works on many levels. It can be read by adults and children and is a timeless classic. Key questions are explored regarding leadership, power and corruption. It prompts the reader to ask - are there elements in human nature that are inherently corrupt?
Quite controversial at the time of publication, with a lot of heat around the political content, but it is clear that this story has undeniable depth. It's interpretation is wider than any particular political system. The themes presented in the text are analogous to working class experiences in contemporary capitalist systems, communist systems, and the organisational dictatorships we encounter in our daily lives.
Orwell was a master at creating a critical distance but he also displayed insight as to where to place the reader in the text. Notice how he positions the reader with the animals in the barn. He demonstrates an exceptional literary understanding and skill.