We’ve all seen it. Two lamps spring to life. In rolls a ball. Back and forth it goes until the smaller of the two gets a touch carried away. POP. Game over. Off slinks the humble little lamp, safe from the gaze of its disapproving senior.
Put together by John Lasseter in 1986, that unforgettable Pixar short not only marked a key moment in the rise of the famous animation studio, it also made a hero of the cheeky little task light that starred at its centre. Even today, Luxo Jr’s legacy remains undimmed, cemented forever in the company’s iconic ident sequence.
But the bright sparks at Pixar were not the first to find star potential in an articulated desk lamp. A full nine years before Lasseter, a little-known amateur filmmaker called Peter Ryde had tried something not so dissimilar with an Anglepoise® or three.
Featuring the Original1227™ and the now-retired 1970’s lamp, the Model75™, together with a late cameo from another 1970's Anglepoise design, the Model82™, his charming 1977 short, ‘Wranglepoise’, brings the very human characteristics of our famous designs into the limelight. And, as the title suggests, he has our rather quarrelsome duo bicker, battle, and break a bulb, before eventually they make their peace.
The lamps, for their part, put on a good show. But the hero of this piece is most certainly its maker. Crafted the old-fashioned way, by moving the lights manually and shooting just one frame at a time, Ryde’s piece is the proud work of a witty storyteller with a meticulous approach to his craft.
He tells a good story, too, on how he made it. Speaking with Anglepoise’s Simon Terry five years ago, Ryde confessed that, with the curtains pulled, the heat of the lights was so great that he was forced to film the whole thing in his swimming trunks.
For better or worse, none of this appears in the final cut. Have a look for yourself here. And Peter, if you’re reading this, we owe you one – where we are, ‘Wranglepoise’ plays on repeat.
Words: Tom Tytherleigh