Round and Round

24 MINS2009NR
Liz Manashil
Can you ever remember a time that you've been on or around a carousel that hasn't been a happy time in your life? This question is raised by W.P. Wilcox, a retired wood carver and subject of "Round and Round." W.P. describes the carousel world as "almost as addictive as gold fever," and, as a part-time gold prospector, has the authority to make the comparison.

Mr. Wilcox is just one of the handful of colorful characters profiled in this film. Some of his carvings rest in the warehouse of Lourinda Bray, a zookeeper of over 300 wooden creatures. Lourinda hosts an annual party for carousel enthusiasts at her home where she lives with dozens of live animals, including cats, birds, and raccoons. Rol and Jo Summit are annual guests at this party. The Summits are a sophisticated couple from an affluent Los Angeles suburb, who, after coffee or Sunday brunch, spend their days drilling, blowtorching, and painting animals in need of repair. Jo speculates that her obsession with restoring these animals was born from a traumatic childhood experience.

In 1943, her beloved merry-go-round that she frequented with her mother was destroyed by a fire. She explains: "I was devastated and my mom... drove me down to see the shambles... and the horses were silent and black. And all I wanted to do was take one home and fix it up. And I think somewhere that desire stayed latent, hidden, until now." Jo's nostalgia is shared by the many other merry-go- rounders in this film. This nostalgia is symbolized, too, by the few machines remaining in operation today.

ROUND AND ROUND is a visual tribute to these rides-- which all have distinct personalities. Some have survived the weathering of history-- like the cracked and peeling machine on a distant hilltop in Griffith Park. Others are newly manufactured from shiny, indestructible fiberglass. Despite their differences, carousels have one important thing in common: that to a child, they are all instruments of wonder.

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