1. Archive

PBS special is refreshing montage

You're standing in the river. The cool water rushes through your legs and the round pebbles below massage your feet. You reflect: The river water is always the same and always different. Watching Art of Indonesia: Tales From the Shadow World, a documentary that airs tonight on PBS at 10 p.m., locally on WEDU-Channel 3, inspires Buddhist meditations such as these, piquing one's thoughts to consider nature's more metaphysical lessons.

After all, the lotus blossom, like the self, has many layers.

The documentary is more a montage of beguiling images than of explanatory narration. There are lush shots of the verdant Bali and Java countryside wrapped in gauzy mist; strange and unusual Bronze-age icons of gods and goddesses; temples, sculptures and Buddha statues with their mysterious Mona Lisa smiles.

Spun between the evocative pictures are snippets of Indonesian folklore. The village blacksmith was revered because he forged new elements in the fire, which cleansed and purified the metals while creating something new.

There are magic scrolls, singing healers, wise women and the puppet master who tells tales of heroes and kings with his carved stick figures who dance before a linen screen.

Writer-director Andrea Simon took a film crew to numerous locations in Indonesia's 13,000 island archipelago chain, such as Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument where serene Buddhas watch out over Java's countryside.

"Turn from desire and leave behind the world of suffering," a narrator intones.

If there is a problem with Art of Indonesia it's that too much is packed into its scant 30 minutes. The several vignettes quickly hopscotch around, giving it a blustery feel _ like an autumn leaf tossed in the wind.

Although it lacks a cohesive thread, the documentary does retain the quality of the river water running through your feet _ always different, always the same, but refreshing nonetheless.

The film coincides with an art exhibition, "The Sculpture of Indonesia," and an 18-month Festival of Indonesia, which began last month in Washington, D.C., and includes 250 events and exhibitions in more than 50 cities, according to the filmmakers.

Scott, Norville to anchor annual Macy's Parade

The harbinger of the holiday season is just around the corner: NBC will present its 39th live telecast of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 22.

Hosting the exclusive start-to-finish coverage of the 64th annual parade will be Today's Willard Scott, America's most popular weatherman, who returns for his fourth year in a row as host. He will be joined by his morning-show colleague, Today co-anchor Deborah Norville, who will co-host the telecast for the second consecutive year.

The parade telecast will spotlight the magnificent balloons that are the hallmark of the event.

Newcomers to the helium lineup include Bart Simpson, who will float into New York City's Herald Square on a skateboard, and Clifford the Big Red Dog, a beloved children's character.