100 years ago, Charlie Chaplin put on some floppy shoes, oversized trousers, a bowler, a mustache and became The Tramp. Within a year or two, he was internationally famous and in two years, he was making $670,000/year, an unprecedented figure in those days.
"It was amazingly fast," says David Robinson, a film critic who has written a definitive biography of Chaplin (His Life and Art) and is giving an already sold-out talk titled "100 Years of the Tramp" at the festival. "By mid-1914 he was already popular. By 1915 he was international. The speed with which it happened, without the modern media, is astonishing."
Consider the following: At the end of 1963, virtually no one in America had heard of the Beatles. Yet on Feb. 9, 1964, they drew the largest TV audience in history -- 73 million viewers -- when they appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show." How could such a conquest have occurred so quickly? I once asked my friend Lenny Kaye that question, and he answered: "Everybody was ready for the '60s to begin." There's some truth to that, but of course there's much more to the story. The explosion of the Beatles in America was the result of combined forces -- artistic, social and technological -- as well as persistence, showbiz rivalries and more than a bit of luck. So how did it happen that the Beatles came out of nowhere to become the biggest cultural sensation ever, in six weeks?
On February 1st, reviews exploded to 800 in a single hour. 6,500 iTunes App Store reviews in a single day. February 1st is the day Dong Nguyen woke up, stretched, checked email, checked Twitter, checked iTunes, and witnessed millions of downloads happening.
You can only imagine what that must have felt like.
This is the same app no one cared about for more than half a year. Just one month prior, it was a great day if Flappy Bird got 20 total reviews on the App Store. Up until January 9th, there had never been an hour in which Flappy Bird received even 10 reviews (most of the time it was under 5).
A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.
Chang has taken 100 of those records, recorded the audio, and overlaid the resulting 100 tracks into one glorious track. Here's Side 1 x 100 (Side 2 is available on vinyl only):
The albums, as it turns out, have also aged with some variety. Some played cleanly, others had scratches, noise from embedded dirt, or vinyl wear. And though the recordings are identical, variations in the pressings, and natural fluctuations in the speed of Mr. Chang's analogue turntable, meant that the 100 recordings slowly moved out of sync, in the manner of an early Steve Reich piece: the opening of "Back in the U.S.S.R." is entirely unified, but at the start of "Dear Prudence," you hear the first line echoing several times, and by "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" the track is a nearly unrecognizeable roar.
Peter Dean is a big Beatles fan. And so he set out to reproduce exactly -- from photographic evidence only -- an old circus poster owned by John Lennon. In true Sgt. Pepper's fashion, he had a little help from his friends.
This is a reproduction of the poster that inspired John Lennon to write the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, which appeared on The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is printed in a limited edition of 1,967.
Lennon bought the poster in an antiques shop and hung it in his music room. While writing for Sgt. Pepper one day, he drew inspiration from the quirky, old-fashioned language and set the words to music.
Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese traces Harrison's live from his musical beginnings in Liverpool though his life as a musician, a seeker, a philanthropist and a filmmaker, weaving together interviews with Harrison and his closest friends, performances, home movies and photographs. Much of the material in the film has never been seen or heard before. The result is a rare glimpse into the mind and soul of one of the most talented artists of his generation and a profoundly intimate and affecting work of cinema.
A short documentary report from a thousand years into the future about The Beatles.
First-hand records are certainly scarce. There's a lot we don't know about The Beatles, but we do know that these four young men -- John Lennon, Paul MacKenzie, Greg Hutchinson, and Scottie Pippen -- were some of the finest musicians that ever existed. The Beatles rose to prominence when they travelled from their native Linverton to America to perform at Ed Sullivan's annual Woodstock festival.
Possibly the worst idea in the world: a movie version of Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles (with Lennon as Gollum) and directed by Stanley Kubrick. According to Peter Jackson, this was a possibility but JRR said hells no.
According to Peter Jackson, who knows a little something about making Lord of the Rings movies, John Lennon was the Beatle most keen on LOTR back in the '60s -- and he wanted to play Gollum, while Paul McCartney would play Frodo, Ringo Starr would take on Sam and George Harrison would beard it up for Gandalf. And he approached a pre-2001 Stanley Kubrick to direct.
In his new series for Slate about creative partnerships, Joshua Shenk explores one of the most fruitful creative collaborations in history: that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Part three, about the break-up the Beatles, comes to a conclusion that's different than some of the theories you may have heard previously.
Yet, looking for concrete divisions in their labor, though not irrelevant, can certainly seem myopic. It feels, from Davies' account, as though the two men were bound by a thousand invisible strings.
Davies looked on at the partners before Yoko, before The White Album -- "the tension album" Paul said. But tension had always been key to their work. The strings connecting them hardly dissolved, even in the times when the collaboration was adversarial, the kind of exchange that Andre Agassi described when he said that, if he hadn't faced Pete Sampras, he'd have a better record, "but I'd be less." Picking up on that incisive line, Michael Kimmelman wrote in his review of Agassi's book Open that "rivalry ... [is] the heart of sports, and, for athletes, no matter how bitter or fierce, something strangely akin to love: two vulnerable protagonists for a time lifted up not despite their differences but because of them."
This is nasty stuff. But the opposite of intimacy isn't conflict. It's indifference. The relationship between Paul and John had always been a tug of war -- and that hardly stopped when they ceased to collaborate directly. Asked what he thought Paul would make of his first solo album, Lennon said, "I think it'll probably scare him into doing something decent, and then he'll scare me into doing something decent, like that."
I've said it before: love and hate are the same emotion. (via @tcarmody)
According to Roy Carr's The Beatles at the Movies, talks were once in the works for a Beatle-zation -- with John Lennon wanting to play Gollum, Paul McCartney Frodo, George Harrison Gandalf, and Ringo Starr Sam. Collaborating with director John Boorman, screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg thought the Beatles should play the four hobbits (and agreed with McCartney that he would be the ideal Frodo).
Video of The Beatles' last public performance in three parts: one, two, three. They performed on top of the group's own building with an audience situated on rooftops and down on the street. (via the year in pictures)
To novice Beatles fans, I warn you not to believe the hype about "Revolution 9." I've listened to it many times over the years, waiting for the light in my head to switch on so I could unlock its mysteries. All I've ever gotten out of it is the vague feeling that immediately after listening to it, something is going to rise out from under my bed and butcher me in my sleep.
Each choice is extensively annotated and defended; start here if you want to work your way through them all.