John and Faith Hubley are possibly the best-kept secret in town. Actually, as commercial animators they produced a living, and one of the most iconic bits in advertising. It is touching and creative enough that even Don Draper would be proud to produce it.
My love for older things might be the illusion that cultural and economic motors were hitting on all cylinders. Sometimes it blinds me from what is actually going on, not just presently but at that time. What you can gain from Hubley’s point of view is simple, “Hey, here we are now, we’ve been hurdling toward increased chaos for millennia upon millennia, where is this all heading?” It does not prophesize, it simply calls out the unknown along with our inner child.
In all honesty, attendance at this one time screening was disappointing. Too many empty seats. It was actually a fantastic Mother’s Day activity for some hidden reasons. The first reason being that Mother Earth, watching us like a cloud, discusses the fate of humanity with Father Time, treading the gears of physics compelling us in chaos, with a shred of free will. We the viewers and the humans depicted from that cosmic eye, are always innocent.
Even though it appears to be that arts and politics during America’s cultural revolution in the 1960’s were ideal, there were clearly some problems. Hubley is very concerned and pointing out the writing on the wall with this film. It transcends the so-called liberal point of view. There is a practicality about it and simplicity that is so insightful, I felt grateful to receive the message, even if forty years later.
But that message did get a little muddied up. The Cosmic Eye is a patchwork of shorts spanning their career (1950’s-1970’s) released for VHS and public broadcasting in 1986, so it is not entirely coherent. By this time, John Hubley was deceased. Faith Hubley and her daughter, Emily put this film together. Emily Hubley also guided the restoration project and film tour.
Coherency is not quite as important as the impact. And this brings me to the second reason why it was a great Mother’s Day gift. I felt like a child, or a step further back, like an infant lost in a world of color and incoherent distinction. But in that world, all is love and pain. And you get sleepy at random. Although I was totally in to it, I noticed that I was not the only person in the audience—I was only a row back from dead front center—nodding off like a baby in the back seat of a car.
There was a majesty and mystery in the whole experience. I wasn’t all that tired and certainly not bored. But it was almost like a psychedlic hallucination, uncomfortable sometimes but not inglorious at all; its impossible to ignore but part of you wants to go to sleep to it. Personally, I’d like to watch it again, with coffee over breakfast.
I am not clear what the techniques used were. I discussed the modern arts approach to Hubley’s animation in a review published last week. I would recommend, since both of NW Film Center’s Hubley screenings in Portland have come to pass, that you attend whichever one hits your town. And if that isn’t possible, get Youtubin’ because you cannot only see the artistic works, but lots of classic commercials by the love-dynamite team, John and Faith Hubley.
While I could discuss the world religious heritage lesson, the jazz music by Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, and many varied and weird pieces of music featured throughout a fairly complete world mythology lesson, depicted with many bright and colorful vignette pieces, I think of the whole thing like that baby, lost in a sea of beautiful chaos, the details of which are entirely yours to discover. Once you have a taste, you’ll be saying, I want my Hubley.