Monday, April 21, 2014

Ravens Are Big In Hollywood Right Now (In Case You Hadn't Noticed)

We have raven-like wings looming everywhere in LA at the moment and yes, it's supposed to be ominous and an ill omen. Not a big brain twister since crows, and particularly ravens, are fairly large carrion birds. They're big, noticeable and generally where they are, there are dead things. Put a human form in the middle and you have something very akin to an angel of death...

It's very interesting that suddenly three prominent marketing campaigns are using almost identical imagery in the same period of time - like there's a "conspiracy of ravens" (pun intended) descending on LA.

But there's more to it, as any good symbolist will be aware. Crows and ravens are uber-smart, and thought of as a trickster form (you saw the recent article about crows proving the Aesop's Tales correct, right?) and have that uncanny ability to know stuff we don't, meaning they're the keepers of mysteries (both light and dark by the way).

Odin was known as the Raven God and he had many daughters, called valkyries (often depicted just as Maleficent is when she has her wings, before turning to the dark side), who could take raven forms, while in Greek culture the raven was associated with Athena and Apollo. That's right, the raven was as solar-symboled animal! It was associated with illumination and wisdom, but, being rather conversational was punished for getting a little too chatty about things it shouldn't and Apollo burned its feathers black. (There's a great article HERE that details a lot of how the raven was seen in different cultures - definitely worth a look if you love corvids!)

Since one of these prominent ads is for the soon-to-be-released, Sleeping Beauty re-visioning, Maleficent, I thought I'd share a couple of raven-associated tidbits from behind-the-scenes of the movie I've come across in the past (and kept my links for) that I never figured out a good reason to post before:

First, from Sam Reilly, who plays Maleficent's right-hand raven:
Says Riley, “I play a raven – I’m Angelina’s lackey, basically. No, there are worse jobs. She’s not Method. She’s very nice. She took me under her wing, so to speak. We had a great time.” He refers to his character as a “mird,” which is part man, part bird.
And a brief story from a UK net maker who was called, out of the blue, to construct some raven-catching nets for the film:
Briar Rose Productions, the UK company handling the British filming at Pinewood, wanted Mr Leadley’s firm Caedmon Nets to make four lightweight nets which are used in the movie to catch ravens. “I took the call and really thought it was a wind-up from one of my mates,” said Mr Leadley, the managing director. "Then they followed it up with an email, and we realised it was genuine. They said it’s for an actress to catch a pair of ravens – I didn’t think much about it. I didn’t realise the ravens, and catching the ravens, was an integral part of the film and where the characters stem from. I think she’s throwing the net.” Mr Leadley, 48, who runs the business with his wife Diane, got to work straight away but the nets were too heavy. “We made the first versions from sisal (natural fibre rope), but they were just too heavy for the actress to handle so we sourced some lighter-weight spun flax from Egypt,” he said. “The four nets are all eight feet square, two with a two-inch, and two with a three-inch mesh. “We had to be careful about things like the colouring of the flax – the nets had to look authentic in the movie’s medieval setting. We can’t wait to see them in action.”
While crows and ravens will always be popular with filmmakers and ad designers, whether it's the basic pop culture surface association and familiar ominous symbol it's generally taken to be, or whether they're looking to layer their meanings a little more, it's still pretty weird to turn around and see different incarnations of the same symbol everywhere you look.

What do you think it might mean?

(That is, apart from the distinct possibility that a single agency pitched the same concept to multiple companies, who all coincidentally decided to use it at the same time...)

Note: aren't the wallpapers awesome? You can find out more information about the line and the designer HERE.
Disneyland Paris: The raven hidden in the wings of La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant 

No comments:

Post a Comment