In regards to every well-worn fairy tale, “It’s not the tale, but how it’s told” is the order of the day. Parents and other creative adults well-versed in story time voices and acting have this mantra branded on their brain cells and know how to make any yarn they spin keep kids at rapt attention. Still, for many of his longtime fans, Ray Harryhausen’s incredible stop-motion versions of Mother Goose stories and five classic fairy tales are some of the most memorable versions ever created.
Save for The Tortoise and the Hare (which was incomplete until its 2002 premiere), I can recall some of these films along with his earlier Mother Goose shorts being shown during assembly hall sessions or in the occasional class where a regular teacher was out sick and the substitute called in hadn’t time to whip up a proper lesson plan. While most of these 16mm shorts were part of my childhood, I’d imagine plenty of today’s little (and more tech savvy) whippersnappers haven’t a clue who Harryhausen was or what made (and still makes him) him great and such a huge inspiration of countless filmmakers and visual effects artists to this day.
You know we’re screwed as a species when the wealthy ones start talking about packing up and moving to Mars with increasing fervor while failing to mention that, oh yeah – the poor people aren’t getting up there at all with their crime and diseases and lack of money and such. While it’s a wonderful idea to pick up and leave an old house and hoof it over to a new one if you can afford it, the truth of the matter is it’s not quite that simple. EVERYTHING on any planet that’s not Earth-like will need to be paid for and shipped from air to water to food to people to get things up and running so all of those things required for living can be manufactured on that new old planet. Relying on shipments from Earth once one is on Mars is pretty much the worst idea ever (well, next to thinking a trip to Mars isn’t going to cost a lot more money, time and lives than anyone can imagine should a single thing go wrong in transit), but I don’t expect to change the minds of those committed to this expensive errand.
Instead, I’d highly recommend those people determined to go (and those of us headed for the history books) to watch Rudolph Maté’s When Worlds Collide, the classic 1951 sci-fi drama produced by George Pal and based on the book by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer that’s somewhat dated on many fronts, but still packs quite a wallop in terms of its visual effects that probably sent plenty of paranoid theater-goers home to cower under the covers for a while despite the somewhat hopeful ending (well, for SOME lucky space travelers)… Continue reading →
I recall seeing Alexander Mackendrick’s 1951 film The Man in the White Suit listed as both a comedy and a science fiction film in two separate movie books and as I hadn’t seen it at that time, I was a bit perplexed. Of course, I think I was also about twelve years old, so I was perplexed about a great many things. And in a constant state of perplexed about those great many things believe you me.
Thankfully, once I finally saw this classic a few years later, all my questions were answered – it’s a comedy AND a science fiction film (and a bit of social commentary, to boot). And of course, it’s an Ealing Studios film so it’s just about perfect in every aspect and yes indeed, comes very highly recommended… Continue reading →