Monday, March 30, 2015

On Retro-Futuristic Clamshell Phones

Read any think piece on It Folows and you will hear about the importance of Yara’s clamshell e-reader phone. It’s the mystery device on which she’s reading The Idiot throughout the film, and director David Robert Mitchell specifically created it so that a real smartphone didn’t immediately date the film.

As he explains in an interview with The A.V. Club:
That e-reader cell phone — or “shell phone” — you’re talking about is not a real device. It’s a ’60s shell compact that we turned into a cell phone e-reader. So I wanted modern things, but if you show a specific smartphone now, it dates it. It’s too real for the movie. It would bother me anyway. So we made one up. And all of that is really just to create the effect of a dream — to place it outside of time, and to make people wonder about where they are.
It seemed vaguely familiar to me, and I think that’s the point, but I couldn’t place exactly why such a device would seem familiar until this weekend, when I realized there’s a precedent for a retro-futuristic clamshell phone.

April O’Neli uses one in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Not that it’s intentional, necessarily, but if we’re having a conversation about retro-futuristic clamshell phones…

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