Thursday, October 1, 2015

Art History through Thor

THOR: A History of Media and Art from an ancient story to a contemporary film

We start with a story.

Thor comes from Norse mythology. Norse mythology represents the spiritual beliefs of the ancient Germanic and Viking peoples. These stories are made of important metaphors, lessons, and beliefs that were put into poetry, so they could be memorized and passed on.

For hundreds of years it was passed down orally, spoken from one generation to the next. Verbal storytelling was the dominant media of the time.

A brief overview of the story:

Thor is the God of thunder, lightning, storms, strength, healing, oak trees and the protector of humanity. He is the son of Odin, who is the God of Gods. Thor’s trickster brother, Loki, is evil and conflicted. They live in Asgard, one of the nine worlds that are connected by the World Tree.

These characters and this story still has an effect on all of us, it’s where we get the names for Wednesday and Thursday.

Before writing on paper became a dominant form of media, the Germanic and Norse people would carve on stones to tell their story.

Thor’s hammer was worn as a pendant for luck and to symbolize their beliefs. These were made of metal during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Then in the 11th century the stories were written down in a book, and illustrated. The book is called the Poetic Edda. Here is a version that was done in 1908:

When printing was developed, in the 15th century, writing and images became available across greater distances. Drawing and painting on paper and canvas became more popular.

This image was first published in 1555.

This painting, done in oil on canvas was made in 1872. Many other paintings, sculptures, poems and stories have been created about this story since.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, black and white illustration became one of the dominant forms of media, to accompany writing. Here is an illustration of Thor from 1902.

In 1962, Stan Lee created the character of Thor for Marvel comics, drawn by Jack Kirby, written by Larry Lieber. Comics have been a popular form of story-telling from the time these were made up to today.

Kirby’s Asgard

Kirby’s Thor

Before the film was made, many artists worked on transforming the story
into images that would work in a film.

One of these artists is storyboard artist Federico D’Alessandro (head storyboard artist, and animatic supervisor Marvel Studios for Thor, The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and others).

He started the process by creating storyboards based on the script.

Other artists would be working on character development and set design as well, such as Production Illustrator Craig Shoji. He helped develop the environments.

Another artist worked mostly on character design, Michael Kutsche.

After the filming is done, post-production will add special effects and animation.

After the film is complete, the marketing becomes the important media. A central part of the marketing campaign is the internet presence of the project. One of the most important parts of the internet presence is the film’s website:

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