My Favourite Film of 1914.

Film Back to animation, and even further in time to Gertie The Dinosaur, Winsor McCay's thrilling animated short in which he attempted and succeeded through a series of drawings to recreate what he thought a Brontosaurus must have been like and getting the beast to perform for the camera. The Wikipedia has an incredibly detailed production history for the film and the fascinating release.

A vaudeville man, McCay effectively achieved the same showmanship as Hammond in Jurassic Park, but utilising a technology which is a distant forerunner to how the dinosaurs were partly created for the Spielberg film.  While project the film before the audience, he'd interact with the animation, coaxing Gertie to do tricks much as a circus trainer might.

You can see how this would work from the intertitles in the later theatrical release version.  He'd ask the animal to raise its left and right leg, to eat some fruit and so forth and eventually take a bough.  The animation falls into some repetition here and there presumably to cover audience reaction and allow for some verisimilitude in the performer's improvisation.

Over a hundred years later the effect is being somewhat recreated through Walking With Dinosaurs Live with another human introducing big beasts, albeit animatronic and with a more palaeontological approach.  But its just the same sort of showmanship and with the same motivation to engender a sense of wonder amongst those watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment