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SUNDAY MORNING

Six degrees

Mark Peters

 

Tim Burton’s new horror comedy, Frankenweenie, is the inspiration behind Times Square’s Halloween celebrations, with a replica of the movie’s pet cemetery the focus at the Causeway Bay shopping centre. The latest stop-motion animation movie by Burton is arguably his most personal to date. Many of its spooky visual treats are seemingly inspired by the Hollywood director’s own twisted-fairy-tale childhood; his parents bricked up his bedroom windows, leaving him only a small shaft of light. The film’s ghoulish soundtrack was scored by long-term collaborator Danny Elfman …

 

Now an award-winning film and television soundtrack composer, Elfman started his music career as vocalist and chief songwriter for 1980s new-wave band Oingo Boingo. They performed Cab Calloway covers and Russian ballet-inspired tunes while wearing clown makeup, before Elfman guided them in a more Devo-esque direction. Never comfortable in front of the camera, he turned his talents to full-time composing and is famous for scoring the theme song to The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening …

 

The American cartoonist has acquired a net worth of more than US$500 million in the 20 years since America’s longest-running sitcom started. In a rushed pitch for the original series, Groening quickly drew sketches of the family characters, believing that studio artists would clean them up before final production. However, he later discovered they simply traced over his basic drawings, thus creating the show’s iconic style. In 2004, Groening was presented with the award for “outstanding contribution to comedy” at the British Comedy Awards by host Jonathan Ross …

 

The Bafta-award-winning television and radio host’s career has seen its fair share of controversy. A day after receiving an OBE in the Queen’s Birthdays Honours list in 2005, he celebrated by playing the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen on his BBC 2 radio show, a song banned by the network in 1977. In 2008, Ross was suspended for 12 weeks by the BBC for making indecent phone calls with comedian Russell Brand. Ross showed more caring side, however, after the death of his good buddy’s cat, buying a kitten for Ricky Gervais …

 

The British comedian and TV star this year supported the Be Cruelty-Free campaign to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals around the world. When the Urban Decay brand decided not to sell its products in China, which requires animal testing, Gervais concurred: “Ethical principles shouldn’t be up for sale.” Wise words from the man who once jokingly deduced that “don’t send horses to perform medical procedures” was the moral of nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, a character popularised by Lewis Carroll …

 

The author of “literary nonsense” also wrote almost a dozen books on geometry and mathematical logic under his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The Oxford lecturer modestly described his work as “chiefly in the lower branches of mathematics”, but his headmaster had written that the boy, at 10, showed “a very uncommon share of genius”. In 1865, Carroll’s magical novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. And 145 years later, a version of Alice hit the big screen in a film by the fantastical Tim Burton.

 

 

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