Metamorphoses, or Winds of Change [星のオルフェウス Orpheus of the Stars] (1978-79)

1978’s Metamorphoses (it was called Hoshi no Orufeusu or “Orpheus of the Stars” in Japan) was a feature-length film directed by Takashi Masunaga that was released in the United States by Sanrio Communications. The surreal film was a five-part animated anthology of stories from Ovid, including those of Perseus, Actaeon, Aglaurus and Herse (“The House of Envy”), Orpheus and Eurydice, and Phaeton. Each vignette featured a recurring boy character named Wondermaker as the hero of the story. Metamorphoses was intended as a Fantasia for the rock era, with no speaking characters and music by Joan Baez and Mick Jagger. However, the film was not well-received and so it underwent a metamorphosis of its own, being re-released in 1979 as Winds of Change, with a disco score by Alex Costandinos and narration by famed actor Peter Ustinov. The film features a veritable smorgasbord of influences from the late 1970s: a clear echo of Disney is present in the illustration and its opening sequence is an exact copy of Star Wars. Though considered a box-office failure, Metamorphoses looks forward to the distinctive and often random ways that Japanese anime of the 80s and 90s will go on to engage with the Classical past.


Sanrio and Me


The Cave: A Parable (1974)

This eight-minute educational film was produced by American publishing giant CRM/McGraw Hill Films in 1974 and tells the story of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in a psychedelic style. It features actor Orson Welles as its narrator and was animated by illustrator Dick Oden.  There is little additional information available about the circumstances of this film’s production; however, its philosophical subject matter  — authority, obedience, perception and the nature of reality — were themes that were being explored in a number of experimental films and cartoons of the 1970s (see also “The Return to Olympus” and “Metamorphoses”). An intriguing description of the film suggests that it was made in order to educate workers and those in positions of leadership about “the strategies that managers use to train and supervise their employees.”

watch 4 minutes; 0-4.00


The Roman Holidays (1972)

In its sit-com sensibilities and with its extremely catchy theme song, this Hanna-Barbera series closely followed the model of its famed 1960s predecessors, “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” though it lasted only one season (13 half-hour episodes). It depicted a regular family circa 63 CE — dad Augustus “Gus” Holiday, his wife Laurie, their daughter Precocia, their teen-aged son Happius (nicknamed “Hap”), and their pet lion Brutus — as they deal with distinctly modern problems, in particular with their landlord Mr. Evictus of the Venus de Milo Arms (who was voiced by Dom DeLuise).



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