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Posts Tagged ‘The Lost World

“Dinosaurs are nature’s special effects”*…

 

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The Lost World, released in 1925, was a silent film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel of the same name.  Public Domain Review elaborates:

Directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O’Brien (an invaluable warm up for his work on the original King Kong directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). In 1922, Conan Doyle showed O’Brien’s test reel to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, which included Harry Houdini. The astounded audience watched footage of a Triceratops family, an attack by an Allosaurus and some Stegosaurus footage. Doyle refused to discuss the film’s origins. On the next day, the New York Times ran a front page article about it, saying “(Conan Doyle’s) monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces”.

It is a film of many firsts: first film to be shown to airline passengers, in April 1925 on a London-Paris flight by the company Imperial Airways; first feature length film made in the United States, possibly the world, to feature model animation as the primary special effect, or stop motion animation in general; first dinosaur-oriented film hit, and it led to other dinosaur movies, from King Kong to the Jurassic Park trilogy.

See The Lost World at The Internet Archive, or download it: Ogg | MPEG4 | Torrent

* paleontologist Robert T. Bakker

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As we lavish love on lizards, we might send dusty birthday greetings to paleontologist Barnum Brown; he was born on this date in 1873 in Carbondale, Kansas.  Brown (who was named after the famous showman) discovered the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex during a 66-year career in which he became the most famous fossil hunter in the world.

Though most of his work was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History (where most of his finds reside), some was underwritten by the Sinclair Oil Company– which adopted an image of the Apatosaurus (then known as Brontosaurus) in its logo.

Brown, who often worked on-site in fur coat, tie, and fedora, in the field in Montana in 1914

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Written by LW

February 12, 2014 at 1:01 am

The March of Progress, Dinosaur Edition…

Among the many chastening revelations that come of aging, surely the most disturbing is the discovery that the dinosaurs whose names and characteristics one so lovingly committed to childhood memory didn’t actually exist…  at least not in forms that even vaguely resemble the ones one knew and loved.

Consider the pterodactyl, that leathery flying lizard, denizen of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World,

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and inspiration for Rodan.

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Turns out that no such beast actually existed.  Rather, the march of science has revealed, there were a family of creatures, Pterosaurs, with rather different– though not necessarily less cinematic– characteristics.  For instance,

Caulkicephalus trimicrodon (illustration: Luis Rey)

Happily, Dave Hone has created Pterosaur.net— a font of remedial information.

As we come to terms with the advance of knowledge, we might give a tip o’ the birthday hat to Susan Sontag, the essayist (“Against Interpretation,” “Illness as Metaphor”), critic (“Notes on Camp,” “On Photography”), novelist (Death Kit, The Volcano Lovers, In America— which won the National Book Award for fiction in 2000), and Berkeley grad; she was born on this date in 1933.

Susan Sontag, by (her partner) Annie Leibovitz

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