Thursday, July 19, 2012

The many joys of classic stop-motion

Yes, I am aware that I've been neglecting this site.

This past week I've been on a bit of a mythology kick. I've been thinking a lot about stories like Thesis and the Minotaur, Jason finding Golden Fleece, Perseus slaying the Gorgon Medusa...

And all this led me to one conclusion. There is just something special about classic stop-motion animation.

Take the giant octopus in the 1955 It Came From Beneath The Sea as an example. It's real. Not in the sense that there really is a colossal octopus attacking an ocean front city, but in the sense that somebody MADE this with their own two hands. The Kraken from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies may LOOK real, but it's not. It is just a computer generated image displayed on a screen.

This may sound like a backwards mentality from a student of computer graphics, but it's true. Classic stop-motion has more personality than digital special effects.

I've yet to see Clash of the Titans. Either of them. That's right, I haven't seen the original classic, and I haven't seen the modern re-make. I would like to someday. But I am sure that the 1981 movie has more character than the more recent Clash.

Somehow, my older brother convinced me that I needed to watch the 1996 television show "The Adventures of Sinbad". I must say it is FAR far cheesier than anything that came out of the '50s. This is mostly due to hammy acting, but also in part to the early attempts at computer generated special effects. If stop-motion has more personality than modern special effects, you can bet that I like it better than this cheesy animation. (Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying the show. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I happen to LIKE cheesy things.)

If any of this makes sense to you, I recommend you seek out the classic movies “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963) and “The Seventh voyage of Sinbad” (1958). They may both be dated and maybe a little cheesy by today’s ever-rising standards…but they are a whole lot of fun.