By Luna Wyatt/11th grade
An intergalactic-themed showroom, dark and eerie. Two lounge on a circular sofa, so casually that they appear to belong in the movie on the screen before them. Several are gathered around the projector, showing universality through the lens of a 35-millimeter camera. A young daughter tells her father she’ll be an astronaut one day. I know you will, he says. Blink, and an astronaut onscreen is struggling. Horror shadows her face – and she’s tired of fighting. It’s in her eyes – there isn’t any hope. She unlocks her safety belt. Time seems to stand still now, because we knew, and she knew too. She drifts slowly into space, and the room swells with the loudest emotion I’ve ever heard. But no one says a word. There’s nothing to say.
The former was one of the magical moments experienced at the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum. The Museum seemed to focus intently on education and immersion of the visitor. Included was history about Indigenous peoples, such as using the Mount Rushmore location for shooting. I learned that the carving of Mount Rushmore was disruptive to a Native American tribe and their land. I viewed a fierce short film dedicated to the awareness of corruption and sexual assault in the movie industry. Climate change awareness was present and communicated. There was a space dedicated to films created by Oscar Micheaux, with a solely Black cast created solely for Black theatres. A spacious exhibit was dedicated to Hispanic director Pedro Almodóvar. Specifically, we appreciated the Hayao Miyazaki exhibit. The director’s films themselves have a touch of childlike innocence, and one could not help but feel as if they had stepped into one of his films in this exhibit.
Not only the praise of diverse film contributors shined in this museum, but also varying techniques. The viewer was able to see a comprehensive account of the filmmaking process, from storyboards for Psycho to costume design from Midsommar and Edward Scissorhands. We appreciated the insight on a director’s thought process. Included was a fascinating animation exhibit. We learned about maquettes, or a miniscule sculpture used by filmmakers to test ideas without producing a full-scale piece. There were maquettes of the Three Good Fairies from Sleeping Beauty, Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas, Victor Van Dort from Corpse Bride, and more. I was half expecting the maquettes to come to life and start moving. I learned about cel animation, or traditional animation, in which each frame is hand-drawn. I learned about the origins of film, specifically in regards to the Lumiére brothers. With the example of Wizard of Oz, we learned about how makeup and costume determined the casting of certain characters.
Although the museum seemed to miss some movie periods, I think the comprehensive movie experience is hard to achieve, due to the subjectivity and range in genre and theme of film. Walking in, I got a completely different feel than what I had expected. On a breezy afternoon in Los Angeles, it felt quite casual. Staff acted kindly and appropriately, staying out of the visitor’s way. The building itself felt open, airy, and lively with people, encouraging individual exploration. I appreciated the requirement of vaccination or a negative covid test, as following guidelines and safety is crucial. All in all, I’m not convinced the $30 adult ticket was worth it. I really appreciated the free youth ticket, as it was educational for any student or an individual with little knowledge on film. I do wish it had been advertised more for its educational value. If you are a beginner to film looking for an educational and immersive experience, this one’s for you.