Film Author: Dr. Kim Johnson
Fifty years ago I attended the first Panorama. I was eight and with my parents. It was an innocent time and I easily gave them the slip. They didn’t see me again until someone spotted me with the crowd pushing racks of pans across the stage.
I don’t recall the incident – it’s a family story – but I do remember the intense joy I felt every Carnival whenever I found myself in a steelband, pushing those unwieldy racks of drums as they trundled around the city flooding the streets with music. It was the pleasure, which can still be experienced today, of dissolving into something big and powerful and ravishingly beautiful.
My adult attempts to join the movement by learning the instrument did not get far: my young daughter allowed little time for pan. Besides, by then I had fallen in love with and become wedded to the written word. So, instead, I wrote the stories of the early panmen, and in time came to publish four books on the subject, because pan was to me our Taj Mahal in intelligence and beauty, the music was our New World Symphonies and the stories of the panmen our Odyssey.
Two of my books were lavishly-illustrated coffee-table volumes, because words alone didn’t capture the fullness of pan history. But even with their hundreds of images they were limited. In 2010 I curated a museum exhibition entitled The Audacity of the Creole Imagination, which included the sound, as well as words and images of pan. But even that lacked movement – one of the defining characteristics of pan’s early years.
Hence, PAN! We Are The World. Because nothing can evoke the emotional experience of pan – the sights and sounds and movement – like film. Of all the arts only film can create a multi-sensory experience and convey to the world the exquisite thrill of complete immersion in pan, the music, the instrument and the ensemble, a feeling not unlike falling in love.
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