‘Why Man Creates’: Saul Bass’s Manifesto for Creativity

by on January 29, 2015

A glimpse into how the creative mind works from none other than Saul Bass

Saul Bass, iconic graphic designer and film legend, delights us in this 1968 documentary on creativity. Tapping into the heart of the creative exercise, Saul Bass weaves a narrative that simultaneously traces the history of humanity’s creative quest and the modern idea landscape.

With the addition of charming animated sequences, the film begins at the beginning of civilisation: echoing the full trail of creative thought dotted with milestones. These include the invention of language, the age of antiquity, Plato and his idea of the Philosopher king and the company of other Greek philosophers, the clash of political systems, the dark ages, the age of enlightenment, the Renaissance, da Vinci and Beethoven, Galileo and Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein, right down to the politically turbulent times of the sixties in Bass’s own present day.

The film also goes beyond the creative process to feature interesting commentary on the relationship between the society and the creator, the audience and the artist. In one particularly snarky sequence, the film satirizes the audience and the critic alike. With the grand announcement, ‘Finally, where the society takes a part in the creative process’, Bass exposes the audience and the critics in an unanimous chorus of disapproval against the artist and his or her art.

Engaging, illuminating and woven with gentle humour, this 1968 documentary remains a must watch for fans of Saul Bass and those of us interested in understanding how creativity work’s in Bass’s own unique way.

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