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How Art Made The World -

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Good evening. Police have

praised the bravery of a young

surfer who dragged his fate aly

injured friend to shore.

16-year-old Peter Edmonds was

attacked by a shark at beach at

Ballina. Despite the danger,

his friend swam out to try to

rescue him. He may be

recommended for a bravery

award. A number of North coast

beaches have been closed

indefinitely because of the attack. A former Melbourne

underworld figure is on his way to Singapore to find out what

happened to money lost in the

Opes Prime collapse. Mick Gatto

was hired by a group of

investors who have been told

they'll get only 30 cents in

the dollar from their

investment in the stockbroking

firm. We're pretty confident.

We'll certainly get a better

result than the banks and the

receivers. In 2004, Gatto shot

Andrew Venimin dead but hewise

self-defence. An Adelaide man acquitted of murder claiming

has become the first person in

Australia to be jailed for

shining a laser light at an

aircraft. 23-year-old Lanfranco

helicopter. Baldetti shown a laser at a

There will be more news in

'Lateline' at 10:30.

on the red carpet and now I'm here. I always wanted to stand of others here to the premiere But what's brought me and hundreds in London's Leicester Square? of a Hollywood blockbuster to tell a story. power of feature film The answer is the extraordinary Stories that terrify us. Aaaagh! Stories that enchant us. And stories that inspire us. is not a modern phenomenon. of visual storytelling But the power are using techniques Feature films today in the distant past. developed way back For thousands of years, to bring their stories alive, artists grappled with ways to engage their audience. This is the story made the discoveries of how our ancient ancestors over our imaginations. that have given films such a hold pay money to do this... throughout the world Every year, seven billion people and watch pictures tell a story. sit down in front of a large screen you'll be all right. You'll be all right, Oh, Maa! Maa-aa!

Maa-aa-aa! When we watch a really good film, something extraordinary happens. with what's going on, We become so involved in the story ourselves. we feel as though we're living power over our imaginations. Visual storytelling has a unique It captivates us. Home, pig! This is George Miller, of box-office hits, including Babe. the man responsible for a series an audience as much as you can. It's the storyteller's job to engage and knowledge of film-making You use all your techniques to enchant the audience, their disbelief, to have them suspend what's happening before them. to actually believe film which is only 100 years old Storytelling wasn't invented with which is only half a century. and television of human engagement really. It goes right back to the beginning So, how did film get its ability to transport us to other worlds? that give it such a hold over us? Where did the ingredients come from the art of visual storytelling Well, to find out, we need to trace right back to its ancient origins. at the very dawn of civilisation! And what better place to start than sands of the Middle East. This is Mesopotamia in the desert for granted today originated here. So many of the things we take Farming, mathematics, writing. between two rivers - They all started the Tigris and the Euphrates. we've come to Mesopotamia But the reason in the 19th century, is because it was here, made a revelatory discovery. that a British archaeologist His name was Austin Henry Layard. and found many treasures. ancient sites in Mesopotamia Layard and his team were excavating intriguing of these was a cache But far and away the most of 25,000 broken clay tablets, covered with unreadable markings. were brought back to London The tablets and painstakingly reassembled. world's first written language - The markings were found to be the cuneiform. Scholars originally assumed court records or accounts, that the tablets were just their code was finally cracked. but then after years of study, actually told a story. Some of these tablets ever written. It was the first story in the first city ever built, It was a story that began and ended southern Iraq called Uruk. a city in what is now Built 6,000 years ago, the world's largest city Uruk was for many centuries for more than five miles with walls that ran of almost half a million. and a population war and the encroaching desert Today, sadly, this wonder of the ancient world. have all but destroyed that this city inspired. But what has survived is the story who built its walls. the fame of the legendary king The city of Uruk lives on through the world's first great hero. His name was Gilgamesh and he was one man's search for eternal life. The story of Gilgamesh tells of In a series of daring adventures, and challenges the gods Gilgamesh defeats monsters to his beloved Uruk. before returning home of an action hero So compelling was this story for generations that it was passed down after it was first told, and 4,000 years here in the Middle East. it's still popular today in a bookshop in Kuwait City. of this ancient bestseller I found a copy The story of Gilgamesh human desire for a hero. had exploited the universal Most great stories have a hero. a number of heroic characters, The Star Wars trilogy tended to have in the first part of it. but Luke Skywalker themselves to be the hero. I don't think a person can declare by the actions that they undergo. by the events that happen to them A hero is defined and moral response to those events. and the response, the spiritual there was one event above all For Gilgamesh, that symbolised his heroism and killed a pride of lions. when he single-handedly attacked as a heroic figure The story of Gilgamesh spread across the Middle East. Kings and princes from Persia to ancient Egypt, they were all eager to exploit his fame. One king, in particular, sought to promote himself by capitalising on the hero's power and glamour. This was Ashurbanipal, the King of Assyria, what's now northern Iraq. We know that Ashurbanipal liked the story of Gilgamesh. He had several copies of it in his library, but he had one big problem. In 645 BC, hardly anyone could read a script like cuneiform. So how could Ashurbanipal use the heroic qualities of Gilgamesh to promote himself in the minds of his people? Ashurbanipal's solution was ground-breaking. He departed from a story told in words and devised instead a story told through pictures with himself, not Gilgamesh, playing the lead role. In a series of carved images, Ashurbanipal shows himself, like Gilgamesh before him, as a supreme lion slayer. The frieze is made up of four images. In the first, a servant lifts the gate on a cage, releasing a lion. The lion springs out and runs towards Ashurbanipal. As it leaps into mid-air, it's struck by an arrow. And in a final image, Ashurbanipal finishes off the lion with a sword stabbed through its body. The sculptors want us to share the thrill of the action. They've created a series of freeze frames, capturing the excitement of the moment. And dominating the frieze is its hero, Ashurbanipal. Originally, these magnificent friezes would have been painted in bright, vivid colours. Ashurbanipal had them prominently displayed on the walls of the throne room of his great palace at Nineveh. Although the palace no longer exists, using the archaeological remains, we've reconstructed what it might once have looked like. Ashurbanipal's story could be appreciated, not just by those select few who could read, but by everyone who could see. But in itself that wasn't enough. Imagine watching a film in which the hero only appears in one scene. So, what we need to find next is a story that develops, a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. In short, a gripping yarn. Ashurbanipal himself seems to have understood this because it was he who created what's probably the world's first really complete visual story. Ashurbanipal had a new series of reliefs made for his palace. They told the story of his war with his enemies, the Elamites. It's like a storyboard for an epic blockbuster. With a cast of thousands, the story begins with the Elamites, identified by their headbands, being driven from their camp by King Ashurbanipal's troops. During a mighty battle, the Battle of Til-Tuba, the Elamites are forced to retreat into the river. Soon it's running red with their blood. According to Ashurbanipal, the river was choked with corpses for three long days. These graphic images are as explicit as any you would see in a contemporary feature film. A bird is tearing out a soldier's eye and here one of Ashurbanipal's henchmen is holding the hair of the Elamite King, Teumman, severing his head from his body. The head is carried as a trophy through the enemy lines. After the battle, King Ashurbanipal and his Queen celebrate their victory in an idyllic garden scene, surrounded by their courtiers. But this story has a final gory twist. Fastened to one of the trees is the bloody head of Teumman. It's a grim reminder of the fate that would befall others who challenged the mighty Ashurbanipal's rule. The Battle of Til-Tuba was shown with visual storytelling techniques that had never been seen before. What we've got here is a complex tale unfolding over many scenes, but not only does it have a beginning, middle and end, it's got these sub-plots which make the whole story more intriguing. As the battle with the Elamites rages, something else is happening. A group of prisoners are being forced to grind down the bones of their ancestors to make bread. Just imagine what it would have been like for visitors to see this story on the wall of the Great Hall in Nineveh. You wouldn't have had to speak the Assyrian language to get the point. The Assyrians laid the foundations of visual storytelling. They established two key elements - a hero and a plot. But as any movie mogul today would be able to tell us, there's something critical missing here. Look again at these reliefs. While there's lots of blood and violence, here Teumman is having his head lopped off, no-one seems to mind. There's no rage, no tears, no emotion. And as a result, it's hard to be involved in the story, let alone to care what happens next. We just don't feel engaged with these characters, let alone suspend our disbelief and enter into their world in our imaginations. So, when and how did ancient artists make us care? To find our answer, we have to leave the Middle East. We need to come to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. Here was another ancient civilisation with a rich tradition of vivid, evocative storytelling. This civilisation left us with some of the most exciting and visually arresting stories ever told. Who else but the Greeks? If any civilisation could find a way to create characters that people could believe in and care about, then the Greeks could. The Greeks were obsessed with their epic stories, their myths, and there was one myth above all that the Greeks liked to visualise, Homer's tale of Odysseus. Here on the coastline of Sperlonga in southern Italy, Greek artists converted this enormous cave into a dining room where guests were lavishly fed and entertained. Today, the cave is empty, but in the 1st century BC, diners would have been surrounded by marble sculptures depicting key scenes from the story of Odysseus. And they'd be seen at their best not during the day, but at night-time by the light of flickering torches. The statues are now in a museum, but thanks to computer graphics, we can reunite them with their original location in the exact positions they were in over 2,000 years ago. This monumental sculpture illustrates an incident in the dramatic story of Odysseus's encounter with a giant Cyclops. But how do these sculptures advance visual storytelling? Well, first, you need to know the story. The Cyclops, a giant, one-eyed cannibal, traps Odysseus and his shipmates in a cave. Although they fear for their lives, they have an escape plan. Odysseus, cunningly, offers the monster some wine. It's a new drink for the Cyclops. He likes it and asks for some more. Then he asks Odysseus what his name is. "They call me Nobody," replies Odysseus. "Well, Nobody," grunts the Cyclops. "I shall eat you last of all. "That shall be your reward." The Cyclops soon becomes drowsy with drink and slumps to the floor of the cave. Odysseus and his companions seize their chance. They drive a stake into the single eye of the giant. What the sculptors have shown us is the moment of maximum tension, just before the climax. But why? Because it's at this moment the characters' emotions are at their most revealing. We know what they're thinking and feeling. By depicting realistic emotions, Greek artists had found a way to bring their stories alive. This is no longer a story that just tells you WHAT happens, but HOW it happened. It's got psychological credibility and wants to show you how people are feeling. And as such, it marks a crucial development in the history of visual storytelling. And if you care about what's happening to the characters, you'll want to know what happens next. The blind Cyclops staggers around the cave, shrieking with pain and shouting for help from the other giants. They want to know who's attacking him. His reply is, "Nobody! Nobody is attacking me!" And this allows our quick-witted hero to escape. Bringing characters alive so that we can relate to them and identify with their predicament is a crucial element in any visual story, even if the character involved is a pig. Come, pig. In order to tell the story, you need a character or characters with whom the audience can engage. It's one of the reasons why actors who have charisma are so important to a story. In the case of a talking animal picture, you need a way of taking your central characters and humanising them to some degree, so the audience can engage more. BARKING With the lion-killing exploits of King Ashurbanipal, artists discovered a heroic lead. With his battle scenes, they invented a gripping story line. But in the cave of Sperlonga, the Greeks showed how to create characters an audience could begin to identify with emotionally. But so far, none of them had combined all these ingredients into a single, visual narrative. Well, not that is until about 100 years after the birth of Christ when the Romans constructed the world's most ambitious storytelling monument. Welcome to Trajan's Column in the heart of Rome. It's a towering achievement and quite literally the highest form of storytelling that there is. At 35 metres high, the marble column stood above all other buildings in Ancient Rome. The column was built by the Emperor Trajan. It commemorates his victory in the war against his enemies, the Dacians, in what is today modern Romania. The spoils of these wars paid not just for the column, but also for the surrounding complex of markets, libraries, squares and public monuments of Trajan's Forum. Alas, today, the Forum is little more than rubble. Trajan's Column alone has survived because for almost 2,000 years it's held a fascination for some of the most powerful men in history. Napoleon Bonaparte admired the column so much, he wanted it dismantled and brought to Paris. He was only dissuaded when told it wouldn't survive the journey. The column was also special to the Italian dictator, Mussolini. When the Second World War broke out, he had it protected by bomb-proof cladding. So, what was it about the column that so impressed Roman citizens, foreign emperors, fascist dictators and modern tourists alike? It was here that all the visual storytelling discoveries of the ancient world came together. Over a continuous 200-metre-long frieze, we've got a complex tale. It spirals around the monument 23 times and tells the detailed story of Trajan's campaign against the Dacians. It's been called a movie epic frozen in stone. In Emperor Trajan, we have an undisputed hero. He appears as a powerful and dignified leader in almost every scene. Over the monument as a whole, he appears 59 times. We've also got our villain, the Dacian leader, Decebalus, crafty, scheming, convincingly evil. And we've got an epic supporting cast of 2,500 extras whose emotions and feelings are made individually apparent. But that's just the start. As a masterpiece of visual storytelling, Trajan's Column has so much more. It was even anticipating certain film techniques that directors today would be familiar with. Here the sculptor has depicted a tree, but this isn't just to adorn the landscape. This tree has a more important role. The sculptor's used it to divide two distinct scenes. Just as today a film director would use a visual cut. Elsewhere the sculptors have used another visual device familiar to film-makers today. They've chosen to show the Roman army buried under their shields from above. It's called a bird's-eye view. They've also chosen to show other soldiers involved in the same scene with a different viewpoint from a lower angle. What the sculptors realised is that by offering multiple viewpoints, they could make the battle more dramatic. There isn't a film-maker today who does not exploit these same visual techniques. Cinema is a kind of visual music that you play with the colours and instrumentations as you would in an orchestra, so with various shots. There is a difference between the close-up and the wide shot. But the creators of Trajan's Column had yet another trick up their sleeves. They found a way of summarising the most dramatic moments of the story. By looking up the northwest vertical axis, the viewer can see at a glance the highlighted version of this epic. It goes something like this. One Emperor wants to conquer the world. No-one stands in his way. Except one man who is prepared to sacrifice all to save his people. War is inevitable. Torture. Arson. Betrayal. But only one side has the support of the gods. Only one side can win ultimate victory. There you go - the world's first ever trailer. Trajan's Column seems to have everything. It's the culmination of thousands of years of discoveries in the art of telling stories with pictures. I would love to say that, looking at it, I feel deeply moved. But I've got to confess that I don't. It may have grabbed the imaginations of Ancient Romans, but I don't think it does very much for us today. Indeed, it's hard to believe even when you're standing close to this monument you're being taken on a virtual journey to the killing fields of Romania. It just doesn't do it. Even though it uses so many of the storytelling devices of modern-day films, it hasn't got the power to captivate us. That's not just because the pictures aren't in motion. Trajan's Column seems to be missing a final element. But perhaps we've been looking in the wrong places. We wouldn't be the first to do so. This is Cambridge University where I work. For centuries, the great centres of learning had looked exclusively to the west for the answers to their questions. Scholars believed the classical civilisations of Greece and Rome had made the great breakthroughs in the ancient world. But just like us on our quest, they began to realise that maybe the classical civilisations didn't hold all of the answers. Yes, what the Greeks and Romans had achieved was truly astonishing, but it wasn't the full story. And so researchers began to look elsewhere. Researchers began to explore parts of the world much further afield. They began to investigate cultures that had been totally ignored. What they discovered would give us the final piece of our jigsaw, a way of telling stories with pictures that is truly captivating. And this same technique is one that has proved crucial to the success of every feature film made today. That discovery was made on a continent thousands of miles from Europe on the other side of the world - Australia. When the first Europeans arrived here back in the 18th century, they found themselves in a severe and hostile landscape. As the Europeans began to explore this landscape, they found something that baffled them. In many of the caves and rock shelters, they came across strange and mysterious images. Here in Arnhemland in the north of Australia are some of the oldest painted images found anywhere in the world. Recent research has shown that some date back over 40,000 years. These are the world's first art galleries. The first European settlers had a sense that these were very old images. They hadn't a clue what they meant and little interest in finding out. They look at this and dismiss it - "childish doodle". And for the settlers for the next 200 years, these paintings remained just that - doodles. Then at the beginning of the 20th century, an Englishman arrived in the small community of Oenpelli in Arnhemland. He was a biologist by training and his name was Baldwin Spencer. During his stay, Spencer lived among the Aboriginal people. He had spent time with other Aboriginal communities, but he found something here he had never seen before. The Aboriginal people of Oenpelli were obsessed by painting. Wherever he went, he found artists at work, either painting on bits of bark from the eucalyptus tree or on the cave walls. It's the same even today. Spencer became more and more intrigued by these paintings. It was this curiosity that led to his breakthrough. He noticed how Aboriginal artists were painting the same images over and over again. The image of the barramundi fish, the image of the Earth Mother, Yingana, or the Lightning Man. While watching these artists, Spencer noticed that the images they were painting on their pieces of bark seemed strangely familiar. Then he had his revelation. These images are the same as those he had seen painted on the rocks and the hills around here and behind us now. And those images had been painted many thousands of years earlier. This, for instance, is a group of barramundi fish painted by a modern Aboriginal artist. And this is the same subject painted thousands of years before. This is Yingana, the Earth Mother, as painted today. And this is Yingana from the ancient past. The same is true of many of the important Aboriginal images. What this meant was that here in Arnhemland, uniquely in the world, there is a continuous artistic link from the ancient past to the present day. Spencer realised he now had a rare opportunity. If he could only discover the inspiration behind 20th century Aboriginal art, he could then unlock the secrets of the ancient painting in the caves and the rock shelters. What Spencer discovered next is crucial to our quest because when he talked to the Aboriginal people about their art, they told him their paintings were anything but doodles. Their paintings were telling stories. When you look at them, it's hard to believe that these single images can tell a whole story. So, how do they work? I met up with the most famous Aboriginal artist in the area - Thompson Yulidjirri. He took me to a sacred site. As he painted an image, Thompson began to tell me the story. In the beginning, a little orphan boy was playing with his brother when he became hungry. But when he found out his favourite food, the yams, had been eaten by his family, he began to cry. His brother called up an ancestral spirit, the rainbow serpent, and asked for his help and the family were punished for being so greedy. Aboriginal artists don't paint a sequence of images to tell their stories. They use single, stylised images to trigger in the onlooker's mind stories they would already know. It's these painted stories, told in a single image, that have endured for thousands of years. So what enabled them to captivate the minds of Aboriginal people and pass it on through countless generations? This wouldn't be revealed to a worldwide audience until the 1960s. It was then that a young television presenter came with his crew to this remote region. His name - David Attenborough. I have very vivid memories of squeezing through cracks and coming up and looking up and seeing the surface of the crack that I'm in only a few inches from my head, and suddenly being aware there were huge barramundi fish on the ceiling and kangaroos. And then spirit figures. Strange stick-like figures that were hunting. Unforgettable! David Attenborough was fascinated by the stories told through these single images. Like Spencer, he too realised that the key to the past lay in understanding the present. This is a sacred place, a cave sacred to the Aborigines of this part of northern Australia. The Aborigines still paint. From them we may get some insight into the very origins of art. So, David Attenborough spent time with modern Aboriginal painters to try to understand why their stories had lasted so long. He met an Aboriginal painter called Mugane. I didn't really know what to expect. I used to sit with him and he had a brush that was made by chewing on the end of a little stick and he would put these marks on them and I'd watch them. Anyway, so we got to know one another. So I was able to ask him not directly, "Why are you painting?" You'd say, "What happened to this fella? What is that?" Tell me about this place here. What's that? A dog. A dog? 'And then on one painting, there was this long, long, rectangular shape.' I said, "What's that?" And Mugane leaned forward and said rather hoarsely, "Secret." WHISPERS Why you talk so soft? they might hear me. If we talk hard, who might hear? Our enemy. So, I said, "Could you tell ME what it was?" And he thought about it for a bit and then he said, "OK. Tomorrow time. You come tomorrow time." We walked for... I suppose about 20 minutes. And there was a little encampment. Inside this encampment, covered in leaves, very secret, there was this huge pipe, a didgeridoo, I mean, like four and a half, five feet long. And this was what was represented in the painting. And then we entered the bush where a big ceremony was going to take place in which the trumpet with its designs was an essential element. The stories painted by Aboriginal artists had gained their power because they'd been combined with music. They were designed to stimulate two senses - the eyes and the ears. And it was this that had made them so enduring. The Aboriginal community at Oenpelli still performs storytelling ceremonies to this day. Just like David Attenborough 50 years before me, I would be lucky enough to experience one. The preparations had started. RHYTHMIC TAPPING, FAINT SINGING People assembled in the morning. One of them started singing with click sticks, then they painted themselves with totemic designs on their chests. It was a sense of privilege and there was a holding of the breath because you were in the presence of something powerful and meaningful. It's a highly emotionally charged moment. As night fell, my own anticipation was rising. FAINT DIDGERIDOO MUSIC The dancers were assembling beneath a rock canopy that was covered in ancient painted stories. Then these stories began to come alive. CHANTING In the ancient past, long before the classical civilisations of the west had made their storytelling discoveries, Aboriginal artists had found a way to captivate their audience and transport them to imaginary worlds. To try and identify the truth of which those paintings were a part, you have to recognise they are only a part. They don't exist by themselves. They are accompanied by music, by singing, by didgeridoo, by click sticks and they are accompanied by narrative in song of immensely complex stories. So, the music is an integral element from all kinds of points of view and to abstract that from a piece of painting is to... impoverish the painting. RHYTHMIC TAPPING This then is the key to Aboriginal storytelling. It's this soundtrack that's given their stories the power to survive for thousands of years and it's the same element that lifts our imaginations when we sit down to watch a film - images pulsing with sound. Aboriginal storytellers understood the power of combining sound with pictures thousands of years ago. But the rest of the world wouldn't exploit this technique until much, much later, long after the classical civilisations had been and gone. CHANTING It wasn't until the great religions realised the full potential of the soundtrack that its use began to spread across the world. When it did, the result was explosive. # Hallelujah, hallelujah # Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah... # Now religious storytellers could use the captivating power of pictures combined with music to reinforce their spiritual message. Then in 1894, a new visual storytelling medium was invented - moving pictures. This is the first feature film in history. Also from Australia, it tells the story of the outlaw, Ned Kelly. Here is a hero, a plot and characters with emotions, but it lacks that crucial ingredient. ENGINE WHINES As soon as film-makers discovered how to put sound on to their films, cinema really took off. Aaaagh! Finally, directors could unlock the full potential of moving pictures. They'd found a way to move an audience so much, they felt they'd been transported to another world. One cannot underestimate the power of sound effects and music in modern-day film-making, so that when you come to something like Lorenzo's Oil where we have a scene where the parents, having learnt of the terrible diagnosis of their son, have to make the long walk out of the doctor's office. LOUD FOOTSTEPS We enhance their demeanour, their mood, their anguish by the exaggerated sound of their footsteps... GIGGLING ..by the laughter of a little girl and with the music. MELANCHOLY CHORAL MUSIC They're hiding their emotions because they don't want their son to know how they're feeling, yet the music is telling us how they feel. When we get home, can you read a story? Of course, my darling. Lorenzino, let's go home. You know what it's like when you've watched a really good film and rather than leave the cinema, you stay in your seat, almost unable to move, listening to the music and watching the end credits roll by. Well, it's because you've been transported to another world and it's been such a powerful experience, you just can't bear for the magic to end. Subtitles by Subtext for BBC Broadcast 2005

e-mail us at subtitling@bbc.co.uk

Hello, and welcome to Foreign Correspondent. I'm Mark Corcoran. Tonight - confessions of a coup leader. You know, I was bloody stupid! (Laughs) Mea culpa. A mercenary comes clean. And a road trip through America's Deep South. MUSIC PLAYS Simon Mann has always been an international man of mystery.

The product of the British establishment, this son of an English cricket captain and heir to a brewing fortune served in the SAS, before founding one the most ruthlessly efficient mercenary forces in Africa. But, in 2004, it all went horribly wrong when he launched a coup too far,

plotting to overthrow the oil-rich nation of Equatorial Guinea. Simon Mann has spent the past four years