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Pop culture references to Relativity[]

  • Matt Groening parodied Relativity in the comic strip Life in Hell, where the cartoon rabbits fall down stairs at impossible angles. The joke was later reused as a couch gag on The Simpsons, and parodied in The Simpsons Movie.
  • In the city building game Afterlife, Hell's ultimate punishment for Envy is called the Escher pit and is designed to torture souls by having them all be given different punishments, and after a few days are allowed to switch with a neighbor, thinking he/she is better off, only to find that all punishments are worse than the last. The outside slightly resembles Relativity.
  • In the Futurama episode "I, Roommate", Fry and Bender go apartment-hunting and visit a room that resembles the lithograph. Fry claims that he does not want to pay for a dimension he isn't going to use; Bender then trips down one of the stairs and continues to fall.
  • In the Drawn Together episode "Clara's Dirty Little Secret", Clara thinks she is pregnant, and Toot suggests that she fall down some stairs. Clara thinks of a suitable room and leads them to the "M. C. Escher room", where Toot pushes Clara down (and up, around, and back down) a flight of stairs.
  • A man created a Lego version of Relativity.[1]
  • In the Family Guy episode "Brian Goes Back To College", Stewie and Brian share a room where Stewie puts up a framed print of Relativity, which he calls "Crazy Stairs." He then breaks it while playing Ultimate Frisbee and asks "Oh no, did that hit crazy stairs?". In a later episode, "No Meals on Wheels", Peter complains that "this is weirder than that rap video by M.C. Escher." Escher is then depicted inside Relativity dressed like MC Hammer in "U Can't Touch This" and rapping, "Going up the stairs and going down the stairs and going up the stairs and going down the stairs and going up the sideways stairs."
  • In the music video for the song Otherside by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the hero enters a room resembling the one in Relativity.
  • In the Keroro Gunso episode "Keroro, Huge Transformation! A Massive Remodeling, near the end of the episode, it reveals that Keroro has remodeled part of the household to parody "Relativity".
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, one room is partially based on this. The gravitational problems are compensated for by gravity switching to whichever staircase the player is about to climb.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, one section of the Merovingian's Rooms is based principally on this lithograph.
  • In the climactic scene of the film Labyrinth, Jareth the Goblin King takes Sarah to a stairwell that closely resembles Relativity, and walk as if defying gravity. A copy of the picture can be seen hanging on her bedroom wall earlier in the film. The Escher estate was given acknowledgment in the credits for the film.[2]
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, a Xiaolin Showdown with Grandmaster Dashi vs. Omi the village morphs to something like the lithograph.
  • In Chrono Cross for the Playstation, the second and third rooms of the Temporal Distortion area are based on Relativity. The first room is based on Van Gogh's works.
  • In the film Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life the film's climax in the cradle also has several different gravity sources, which along with the lighting effects create a disorientating experience for the viewer.
  • In the film A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Child the heroine, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) faces Freddy in a series of steps similar to Relativity.
  • In the anime Cardcaptor Sakura, The Maze card creates a maze similar to Relativity.
  • Sierra's early PC adventure game Quest for Glory featured a puzzle room with multiple false exits and trap doors. The game's narrative jokingly wonders if the room was designed by M.C. Escher.
  • Christian rock band Prodigal mimicked Relativity for the cover art of its 1982 self-titled debut album. However, the inhabitants and much of the imagery is inspired by the song titles on the album.
  • In Haunting Ground for Playstation 2, there is a room modelled after the lithograph, complete with its inhabitants.
  • In the anime Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Millennium Puzzle, an Egyptian artifact owned by the protagonist, is said to contain the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh. The insides of the puzzle look remarkably like Relativity, which represents the Pharaoh's inability to remember his past. When various characters enter the puzzle during the course of the series, there are multiple gravitational pulls and strange dimensions (such as the instance when a main character, Joey, looks through a door, only to see himself inside looking through the same door some distance below).
  • In the game Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, the final level of the Dream Realm, known as the Maze of Illusion, is somewhat based around Relativity.
  • In the Digimon episode List of Digimon Adventure episodes, the heroes find themselves in a room where gravity is upside-down.[3]
  • In the Mickey Mouse comic stealers, a castle just like Escher's one is pictured.
  • The Marvel comic book Avengers Forever #7 (June 1999) and the 2002 DC Comics book JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice both feature a number of the story's superheroes finding themselves in a realm with multiple gravity sources assigned to different surfaces, much as in Relativity. In the former, the heroes almost immediately fall through space the moment they find themselves there. In the latter, they do not. Interestingly, while the books were not written by the same author, both were illustrated by Carlos Pacheco.
  • Other variations of Relativity appear in the Captain Future anime series ("The Comet Kings" part 3) and the Jackie Chan Adventures ("The Lotus Temple").
  • In the Fighting Fantasy role-playing series book 45 Spectral Stalkers, Relativity is shown in a picture as the room of the mysterious Loremaster, whom the player may encounter.
  • In Larry Niven's novel Protector, protagonist Brennan builds a working model of Relativity using gravitational engineering in his private world, Kobold.[4]
  • In the manga Berserk, the realm occupied by the God's Hand demons resembles Relativity. The antagonists are able to bring themselves into that world, dubbed hell, through the use of the artifacts called Behelit.
  • The chorus of the Teenage Fanclub song "Escher" from the album Thirteen contains the lines "and I don't know if I'm going up or down", an apparent reference to the theme of this picture.
  • In the Walt Disney World version of Haunted Mansion, there is a room that reflects Relativity. It seems to go on forever, and has glowing, ghostly footprints ascending and descending the 'haunted' stairs.
  • In the Sprint commercial "Manning's Mind" Peyton Manning views multiple copies of himself running the stairs of a real-life version of Relativity.
  • In the manga series Aqua one of the chapter covers features an M.C. Escher-like world.
  • An episode of Sonic the Hedgehog, Blast from the Past, contains a scene where Sonic and Sally walk around a room full of stairs going at odd angles, reminiscent of "relativity".
  • In Persona 3, the distorted features of the tower Tartarus was inspired by Relativity. However the in-game gravity is linear and is not affected by the tower's design.
  • The geometry textbook Discovering Geometry features one of Escher's lithographs on the first page of every chapter, and uses several lithographs in the chapter on tessellations.
  • The PS3/PSP game Echochrome was inspired by M.C. Escher, namely Relativity influenced.
  • Pokémon Platinum Version features a place called the Distortion World which features different angles and an isometric view based on a few of these art pieces.
  • In the videogame Uncharted: Drake's Fortune there is an Escher-esque level featuring upside down staircases leading to dead ends.
  • The design of the Mines of Moria in the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was largely inspired by Escher's work, "Relativity" in particular. A scrapped sequence in The Two Towers involving an "Endless Stair" made specific reference to "Relativity" in its concept art.
  • The floors of Wayside School in the Canadian cartoon Wayside are depicted and based on this artwork, such as with sideways doors on walls and ceilings and stairs that can lead to another place or nowhere.

Pop culture references to other works[]

  • The Doctor Who episode Castrovalva takes its name from Escher's early lithograph of the same name, though Escher's view of Castrovalva has none of the paradoxical elements of his later works to which the setting of the episode could more readily be compared.[5]
  • Eric Shanower's illustrations of the Absurd City in Paradox in Oz are clearly based on Escher's illustrations.[citation needed]
  • Sheila Chandra included a piece called "Escher's Triangle" on her CD Roots and Wings - the title refers to Escher's use of the Penrose triangle in pictures like Waterfall.
  • The bonus stages of the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, feature an animated background of birds turning into fish, a reference to Sky and Water.[citation needed]
  • The early nineties rock music group Chagall Guevara wrote a song called "Escher's World" which made many references to the impossible structures that can be found in Escher's work.[6]
  • Escher is also the subject of a song by the rock group The Breakfast. The song is called "Escher's Etchings" and is included on their 2003 live album Bona Fide. The lyrics can be read here[citation needed]
  • The music video for "Around the World" by Daft Punk, directed by Michel Gondry, is based on Escher's Encounter.[citation needed]
  • The music video for "Drive" by Incubus is based on Drawing Hands, beginning with an animated hand drawing a piece of paper and second hand to form the actual Escher drawing. It also shows the hand drawing lead singer Brandon Boyd to attach itself to. All drawings in the video were done by the band members themselves.[citation needed]
  • A comic crossover between Mike Allred's Madman and Bernie Mireault's The Jam, features Escher as a central character when the two characters enter into an alternate universe created by a somewhat godlike Escher, based on many of his works.[7]
  • "Escher" is the title of a song by the British band Teenage Fanclub. The song is about a man who doesn't know if he is up or down.[8]
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's 2006 song, "White & Nerdy" contains the lyrics "M.C. Escher—that's my favorite MC."
  • In 2006 Audi released a commercial with many Escher-inspired scenes.[9]
  • In the film Donnie Darko, the poster on Donnie's bedroom wall is M. C. Escher's "Eye".
  • In the film The Quiet Earth, Escher's Another World is seen on the wall of Zac Hobson's home during the surrealistic 'Effect Tremor' sequence. Given the subject matter of the film, the presence of the artwork is akin to a sly in-joke.
  • In the Psygnosis game "Lemmings", the 18th level of "Taxing" is named "Tribute to M.C.Escher", as the level is seemingly impossible.
  • Mott the Hoople's debut album's cover was Escher's Lizards.
  • The Flight of the Conchords song "Inner City Pressure" contains the lyrics, "You've lost perspective like a picture by Escher".
  • On the Joy Electric album, My Grandfater, the Cubist, there is a song titled "Draw For Me, M.C. Escher".
  • On the SyFy show Warehouse 13, Escher is said by Agent Artie Nielsen to be one of the architects, along with Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, who designed the Warehouse, despite the fact that it was built the year Escher was born.
  • In the video game God of War III, the puzzle "Hera's Garden" is based on Escher's Waterfall

References[]

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