I checked out Between the Folds (796.892 BET), a documentary about
origami, mainly because of the critics’ blurbs emblazoned on the DVD cover:
“Luminous,” Mezmerizingly beautiful!” “Exhilarating,” “Breathtaking . . .
wondrous!” So it seemed like the critics liked it. But how could a movie about
origami be that wonderful? I was soon to find out. This is less about the cute little kid’s craft
that we all know, of laboriously folding bunnies and sailboats, and more about
the world of the brilliant, rather strange people consumed by the glory of
patterning and folding. In their hands, transforming a two-dimensional piece of
paper into a three-dimensional object is a magic act. The key word here is “transforming,” as it is
a peculiarly human trait to want to transform what we see into something else,
and in some ways Between the Folds is a long look at the wonders of human
intelligence. During the course of of the movie, we meet ten artists and
scientists who do “extreme” origami. Some make their own paper; others paint
the paper first with abstract shapes, and still others wet the paper before
folding so as to stretch and mold it.
Getting just a glimpse of these extraordinarily intelligent
people as they folded and talked, I felt a bit like a crestfallen Neanderthal having a
first encounter with Homo sapiens,
and I couldn’t help but think of my own rather lumpy folded cranes. One of my
favorites of the group is artist Chris K. Palmer, who makes collapsible flower
towers. You can see more of his work at www.shadowfolds.com.
If, as you watch, you still think origami is just an
interesting, but trivial, craft, keep watching. The last featured scientist
notes that the proteins in the cells of our bodies are folded, and that
problems with folding could be what causes some diseases, including ALS or MS.
He also points out that the entire universe may be folded in on itself.
So there’s a lot to enjoy in this documentary, including a
mesmerizing soundtrack composed especially for it. When Between the Folds
was over, I went to my bookshelf and pulled down several origami books. I saw
origami entirely differently, and isn’t this one of the reasons why we watch
movies, to see with new eyes?