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Star quality

Astragal

The meat of the lecture, which was illustrated with stills and film clips (all the technology was fine), concerned the relationship between art and science, hand and brain, and what Ruskin described as the mediating heart. Dr Rotwang, the 'mad scientist' in Metropolis, was a figure who recurred in various films in one form or another, including The Girl in the Moon by Lang, which featured a quite convincing rocket take-off. Countdowns, by the way, were invented in this film. It all culminated in the Peter Sellers portrayal of Dr Strangelove as a frustrated ex-Nazi.There have been suggestions recently that his portrayal was based on Edward Teller, the man who invented the hydrogen bomb. But Frayling showed conclusively that this is wrong; the portrayal was quite clearly that of von Braun, inventor of the V2 rocket that nearly finished us off in the Second World War, who negotiated his own surrender to the Americans and then joined their rocket programme. He also acted as a consultant to Disney and appeared on its television programme, complete with Strangelove accent. Spookily, von Braun as a young man had worked on the set of Metropolis. Even more amazingly, Ken Adam, set designer on many Bond films and designer of the War Room in the Dr Strangelove film, was in fact German - and went to the same school, at the same time, as von Braun.The RIBA dinner was attended by H G Wells, who had his own crack at the future, in fact 2036, in Things to Come, which appeared as a film in 1930.The futuristic furniture was the latest stuff from the Heal's catalogue. Fascinating cultural history, brilliantly presented.

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