Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pictures At An Exhibition 3

Today I’m returning to my Pictures At An Exhibition. In case you haven’t read part 1, here’s the link

The mural discussed this time is off-exhibit, as the space in both the Paleozoic and Cenozoic sections of the Evolving Planet exhibits is limited. It’s not a very spectacular mural, but it’s a big one that requires a lot of space. The corresponding gallery is relatively small, forming up part of a larger room transitioning to another gallery. This is too bad-there’s not much in the mural itself, but it’s still a haunting piece by a master artist. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Movie Review: Behemoth the Sea Monster/The Giant Behemoth

One of the most interesting filmmakers when it comes to dinosaurs was Eugène Lourié. A Franco-Ukranian who fled the country after making the anti-Revolutionary film The Black Crows,  he revived his career in France as an artist for the film industry, acting as production designer for directors Jean Renoir and Rene Clair, and art designer for Rene Sti, Georges Marret, Jean de Limur, Marcel L’Herbier, Georges Lacombe, and fellow exile Viktor Tourjansky. As a director from 1953-61, he dabbled in American television, the high concept sci-fi film Colossus of New York, and three films about prehistoric sea monsters.  After his brief directorial stint, he returned to art direction, this time in Hollywood, doing such films as The Battle of the Bulge, Crack of the World, Confessions of an Opium Eater, and more TV work. His interest in special effects led him to work in the spectacular Krakatoa, East of Java. He retired after 1980’s Bronco Billy, and his only speaking role was as a doctor in the 1983 erotic thriller Breathless. He died in LA in 1991. 

His first, best, and most successful of the three Sea Monster films was The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. I’ve already discussed it but needless to say, his excellent eye combined with amazing effects by the master Ray Harryhausen to make a blockbuster. Godzilla was born of both the Beast and King Kong (the favorite film of both Harryhausen and his Toho counterpart Eiji Tsuburaya), proving to be just as successful as his parents. Both Godzilla and his Beastly progenitor proved to be decisive for Lourie’s next films.

The epic producer Ted Lloyd partnered up with thriller-focused David Diamond with Lourie to make a new science fiction epic. The rising interest in science fiction about atomic radiation prompted writers Allen Adler (who also wrote Forbidden Planet) and the obscure playright Robert Abel  to consider making a film about an amorphous bloblike being resembling a flying, glowing ball of light, that ravaged London with horrifying radiation. However, the distributors Eros Films and Allied Artists knew of Lourie’s dinosaur blockbuster, of course, and the 1956 Godzilla was an international smash as well. So, they insisted to change it to the more visually interesting, kid-friendly, ever popular dinosaur.