Thursday, April 12, 2012

March of the Maiasaura - Let's Watch "Dinosaur!"

April is shaping up to be an insane month. I've got a lot of family commitments, including my cousin's wedding, and I'm not even sure if I'll be able to go to Boston Comicon at all! This is the point where I'm going to have to start posting things whenever I can instead of regularly.

So because this may be the last new post for (horrors) a week or two, I've got a special treat. I've talked about this documentary a lot in the past but I do not think I ever sat down to watch it in full to discuss it in detail. Well, it's late at night and I'm bored, so...

When I was about seven years old, this show melted my face off. Now I wasn't keen on the old movie footage (mostly because I didn't know who Ray Harryhausen was yet) or the scenes where Christopher Reeve is walking around in the museum or even the interviews with the paleontologists. Nope, I was AAAAaaaall about Phil Tippet's animation. And hot dog, does it look better than like 70% of the effects in feature films today.

More importantly, this was the first piece of animation I ever saw where the dinosaurs were allowed to act like normal animals in their own environment instead of some kind of fantastic monsters out to kill all humans. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal today. Indeed, around last year, dinosaur-involving media had got to the state where "Dinosaur Revolution" was controversial because -horrors- some of the animation was exaggerated and silly. But it was downright flabbergasting to my young mind and I loved the film for it.

Other fun things to notice:

* - The aforementioned vintage film clips. They run the gamut from stone-cold classics like "The Lost World" and "King Kong" to some of the aforementioned Ray Harryhausen's stranger offerings to... not-so-classic things like the weird remake of "Gertie the Dinosaur", "Baby", and "Caveman".

* - The interviews with all the paleontologists, mostly because everyone is so

* - The school group making stop-motion animated films. Holy cow, they are so quotable. "Brontosaurus is a sweet guy". Indeed.

* - Overall, the reminder of what dinosaur popular culture was like in a pre-"Jurassic Park" world. I kind of want to build some fanciful animals out of repurposed scraps of metal, don't you?

* - Most notably, this documentary takes a turn for the very strange in the last twenty minutes or so:

In quick succession, there is a long discussion of cryptozoological animals that MIGHT be dinosaurs but probably aren't, and anyway plesiosaurs aren't dinosaurs and we just heard Bob Bakker explain that sauropods do not work that way so never mind. Then there is the very briefest mention possible of the dinosaur-bird connection. This is ended as swiftly as possible so that Dale Russel can talk about your friends and mine, the Dinosauroid.

So, basically, "Okay there MIGHT be real dinosaurs around today and that would be awesome except that the two ones we're talking about here are probably mythical creatures. Oh wait, yeah, birds are dinosaurs, so there's that. But since nobody could possibly wish for that to be elaborated on here in 1985 when it is still a pretty mind-blowing concept, let's talk to this dude about his deeply embarrassing Human Alien thing!"


Sketch of the Day!

Here, have a little dragon:

3.30.12 - A Commission (sort of) in Progress

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! I have been looking for this documentary... show... whatever it is... since I was a kid! Only one clip stood out in my head (The part with the dino stealing the other dino's eggs.) I could never find the appropriate keywords to search until I came across your blog!

Thank you!