Hello Kittens. I finally completed the re-master of my last film Jack and Jill – a wicked tale. J&J was in it’s final stages while I was going through he first stage of US immigration. And to be honest I was not in the best place creatively. I was never really 100% happy with the end result.

Since then though I have somehow managed to lose the raw files so I can never remake it the way I might like to, short of filming it again from scratch…which is NOT going to happen!

Now seemed like a good time to touch it up a bit though and correct some of the things that bugged me the most. The new film I am working on right now stars the Jill character and explores an extension of one of the ideas that came from my original musings when making the piece. Which sort of makes J&J the prelude.

The origins and meanings of fairy stories, folklore, mythology and nursery rhymes has been a near obsessive study of mine for many years. Some nursery rhymes really don’t mean anything and are simply nonsense rhymes for children’s games. That does not stop adults from trying to make them mean something…usually dark. For example almost everyone believes that the rhyme “ring-a-ring o’roses” is about the plague. Sorry to shock you kittens but the evidence is inconclusive on that one. It might refer to the black death (even though it likely dates to a period after the plague was over), or it might equally be nothing more than an innocent child’s dancing game. So what is Jack and Jill all about?.
Jack and Jill went up the hill, is one of the best known nursery rhymes and one of the most popular. So much so that in it’s history it has been on a level with full fairy tales.

There are many versions of the rhyme, one with 15 verses! The later verses of the most well known version, are probably leftovers from this extended version. The first verse alone has been seen in print since the 18th century. Though scholars believe that the rhyming of the words water with after (which in modern English do not rhyme, obviously) means it must date from somewhere in the 17th century.

There are some who have tried to suggest a much older date and to crowbar in some rather …creative hidden meanings. Probably none of them have any truth. Most historical uses of the names Jack and Jill, Shakespeare for example, do not refer to the rhyme, rather generic names. The same as saying “chicks and dudes” “guys and galls” I am sure you can think of many more and many stupider!. Jack is probably the most common name in nursery rhymes ..Jack sprat, Jack be nimble, the house that Jack built, Jack Horner,  and Jack-a-Nory! to name but a few. (Jack the ripper is worth a mention too) So we can say that “Jack” is a word to represent the masculine, making ‘Jill” it’s opposite.

One possibly valid origin theory  is tied to an old Scandinavian  story in which two children who were drawing water from a well, were captured by the moon.

Or another is  some kind of ritual collecting of dew as part of May day celebrations. Which has always been associated with fertility rites so that brings us to the meaning that makes the most sense to me….

The loss of innocence and the potential regrets/social consequences that follow.
That is how I always write it in my descriptions of the film. It sounds prettier don’t you think? It is also more vague, so you can draw your own conclusions. I prefer that. I am not the kind of artist who likes to spoon feed the audience my own intent and basically dictate how they feel about the piece. Someone said to me recently that I should say more about my films, and not rely on them to make my point…as a film maker the films ARE the point.

But the interpretation of the rhyme that started my train of thought that lead to this short film goes like this – “Up the hill” is a euphemism for sex. Like so many expressions we use when we don’t want to say up front what we are up to. “breaking your crown” would then mean losing your virginity. So a young couple sneaking off for some “personal time” and then facing the consequences.
The two additional verses most known today go like this –

  • -Up Jack got and home did trot, as fast as he could caper.   He went to bed to mend his head, With vinegar and brown paper. (vinegar and brown paper really was used for bruising back in the day)
  • -Then Jill came in and she did grin, To see Jack’s paper plaster. Her mother whipped her, across her knee, For laughing at Jack’s disaster.

As I said before these additional verses are most likely later additions and part of an even longer remix. But they can be read  in a way that speaks volumes about the gender inequality in our society when it comes to sex. An inequality so deeply ingrained that even today, when officially we do not class women as lesser beings, even women themselves accept it in alarming numbers, and without ever thinking about it. It shows up in all areas designated ‘sexual’ including fashion choices and body type. Though I did not use these later verse in the film they did colour my train of thought.

For me the use of sex as a symbolic device to represent the loss of innocence worked. To me innocence is something that must be lost for true purity to be gained.

When I am making a film the way that works best for me is to go with an idea and follow it all the way to the end. Or meditate on an image without questioning it and let it become what it is going to become. Often without a solid plan, let alone storyboards and animatics.

Years ago I used to try and fight this, do things the ‘right’ way. I am almost embarrassed to admit how long I tried to work in a way that did not come naturally to me….how long I didn’t trust my instincts…how long I assumed that others knew something I didn’t when they said “you can’t do that”. But with some well timed inspiration from two great artists I admire (I will talk about this another time) I decided to go with my own vision my own way. No matter how it turned out or what you think of it, it was the right thing to do and I hope that if I can achieve nothing else as an artist it would be to inspire someone to trust their vision no matter what anyone says.

I hope you enjoy this film. But if you don’t I honestly don’t care…sorry I know I am not supposed to say that, but I just did.

This film is an art piece. It is  not safe for work and not intended for children.  It is age restricted so you may need to be logged in to youtube and over 18 to see it.

Have an interesting day Kittens xxx